Thomas Cole’s Studio

Memory and Inspiration

In Thomas Cole’s New Studio

APRIL 30-OCTOBER 30, 2022

Exhibition Catalogue

Exhibition Overview

The artwork that Thomas Cole left behind in his studio when he died suddenly at the age of 47 in 1848 shaped the course of American art. The exhibition, “Thomas Cole’s Studio: Memory and Inspiration,” will for the first time reassemble many of those significant works and explore how Thomas Cole’s example so powerfully affected the evolution of art in America. The exhibition is curated is Franklin Kelly, Senior Curator and Christiane Ellis Valone Curator of American Paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

Thomas Cole’s death shook the American art world. His family preserved his studio as a shrine and the leading artists of the day visited to draw inspiration. The exhibition presents a selection of major paintings and artifacts to serve as the first reimagining of what visitors would have seen upon entering the artist’s studio, a building that Cole designed and called his “New Studio.” The exhibition will consider Cole’s plans for The Cross and the World, a five-canvas work he envisioned as a successor to his famous series paintings, The Course of Empire and The Voyage of Life, but which remained unfinished at the time of his death.”

The exhibition organized by the Thomas Cole National Historic Site will open at the historic site in Catskill, NY, from April 30 to October 30, 2022. It will then travel to the Albuquerque Museum in Albuquerque, NM, and be on view there from November 19, 2022, to February 12, 2023. In creating this exhibition, Dr. Kelly has been joined by Consulting Curator Annette Blaugrund, the independent scholar and author of “Thomas Cole: The Artist as Architect,” and Kate Menconeri, Chief Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, Contemporary Art, and Fellowship at the Thomas Cole Site.

A fully illustrated catalogue published by Hirmer Publishers in Munich, Germany, will accompany the exhibition with a principal essay by Franklin Kelly. Other essays are written by Annette Blaugrund; William L. Coleman, Director of Collections at The Olana Partnership, and Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, acclaimed painting conservators.

Read the press release


“This intimate show tantalizes in unexpected ways” “Splendid exhibition catalog” The Wall Street Journal

“This is an important show.” Albany Times Union

“Cole’s paintings showcase the natural splendor of the Catskill region” The New York Times

“[Thomas Cole’s Studio: Memory and Inspiration] promises to give viewers an idea of the creative directions of the painter’s last years with a selection of works left in his studio at his death.” —Hyperallergic

Listen to the Curator on WAMC NPR’s The Roundtable

Thomas Cole’s Studio: Memory and Inspiration is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Major support is provided by the Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore Foundation.

Additional support is provided by Candace and Rick Beinecke, and Richard T. Sharp.

The exhibition and publication are also supported by the Warner Foundation, The Lunder Foundation, Lisa Fox Martin, Anne Miller and Stuart Breslow, Greene County Legislature through the Greene County Cultural Fund, administered in Greene County by CREATE Council on the Arts, Stainman Family Foundation, National Trust Insurance Services, LLC, The Bank of Greene County Charitable Foundation, Stephen Hannock, Annette and Stanley Blaugrund, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and the Kindred Spirits Society of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.

Organized by the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.

“[Landscape with Clouds] lodged in my mind something like 45 years ago, when I first saw it hanging on loan at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (along with the big version of Prometheus [Bound])….it seemed then, and it still does, such an incredible image, both in its grandeur and its emptiness, and for what it is and what it isn’t, forever unfinished, enigmatic, beautifully mysterious.” –Franklin Kelly, Curator

Installation view © Peter Aaron/OTTO

Installation view © Peter Aaron/OTTO

Installation view © Peter Aaron/OTTO

Thomas Cole, Landscape with Clouds, 1846-47, oil on canvas, 48 x 72 in., Private Collection.

Detail of exhibition catalogue (including: Emily Cole Sitting in Thomas Cole’s Studio, at Cedar Grove, Catskill, New York (detail), c. 1880, albumen photographic print on card, Albany Institute of History & Art Library, Thomas Cole Papers &  Thomas Cole, Landscape with Clouds, 1846-47, oil on canvas, 48 x 78 in., Private Collection)

Thomas Cole, Niagara Falls, c.1830, oil on canvas, 18 5/6 x 24 1/2 in., National Park Service, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, MABI 1770.

Thomas Cole, Tornado in an American Forest, 1831, oil on canvas, 46 3/8 x 64 5/6 in. National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection, Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund, 2014.136.117.

Thomas Cole, Study for “Catskill Creek,” c.1844-45, oil on wood, 12 x 18 in., National Gallery of Art, Washington, Avalon Fund, 1998.67.1.

Thomas Cole, The Pilgrim of the Cross at the End of His Journey (Study for series, The Cross and the World), c. 1846-48, oil on canvas, 12 x 18 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1965.10.

Thomas Cole, Clouds, c.1838, oil on paper laid down on canvas, 8 3/4 × 10 7/8 in., Metropolitan Museum of Art, Morris K. Jesup Fund, 2013.201

Thomas Cole,View of Schroon Mountain, 1838, oil on panel, 9 ¾ x 14 ½ in., Private Collection

Thomas Cole’s New Studio © Peter Aaron/OTTO

Jennifer GreimThomas Cole’s Studio Memory And Inspiration