The Easel

The greats outdoors: How Thomas Cole shaped the American landscape

1830’s America was slowly evolving into a distinct society. Cole, founder of the Hudson River School, is now seen as the first identifiably American landscapist. His masterpiece, The Oxbow, expresses a young nation’s optimism. It’s panoramic valley and sunlit plains, unmarked by “old” European civilisations, shows “an American Arcadia, all neatly tended fields, careful husbandry, peace and prosperity”.