Arts Everyday Living:The Grandeur & Beauty of the Nation’s Landscape–Soul of American Art

Thomas Cole, A View of the Mountain Pass Called the Notch of the White Mountains (Crawford Notch), 1839, oil on canvas, Andrew W. Mellon Fund, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Landscape—The Soul of American Art

When American master Thomas Cole (1801-1848) first saw this view almost 185 years ago, he was awestruck by its autumnal grandeur and beauty; the mountain rising majestically some two thousand feet amid swirling clouds, while below stretched the endless multi-colored forests of the wilderness. Yet, at the base of the mountain, you can already see signs of settlement: a white frame house with smoke rising from its chimney, another shack nearby, and a dirt road on which a man on a black horse is riding into the distance.

Cole, a poet as well as painter, was born in England but moved to the United States when he was eighteen. On foot, he traveled through the mountains of his adopted land–the Catskills and the Adirondacks of New York, the White Mountains of New Hampshire–sketching and recording for posterity the reverence and love he felt for the world of nature.

A View of Crawford Notch is impressive in size, measuring more than three feet in height and just over five feet in width. Yet, if you look closely and magnify the image, you can spot details such as a woman and small child as well as a stagecoach in the background. The fallen trees and general debris in the foreground might represent the aftermath of an avalanche that occurred in the Crawford Notch area.



In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art does not endorse or approve use of the above image or any of the material on this website. Nor has the National Gallery of Art participated in any projects utilizing the said image.

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