Thomas Cole's Paper Trail

Albany, Taken from the East Side of the River Thomas Cole (1801-1848), c. 1844, Ink on wove paper, 14 7/8 H x 17 1/2 W Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase, 1940.21.1


In 1818, the youthful Thomas Cole left his native England with his parents to begin a new life in the United States. After several years of struggle and relocation, he embarked on a career as an artist and began to receive praise for his landscape paintings in 1825. Now, during the bicentennial year of his arrival in the United States, this naturalized American artist is being publicly recognized once again at museums and historic sites on both sides of the Atlantic.

The exhibition, Thomas Cole’s Paper Trail, highlights selections from the Albany Institute’s holdings of Cole drawings and manuscript materials, including his earliest sketchbook and tree studies from 1823, his account book that lists the arrival of Frederic Church as a student, drawings of Hudson River scenes that were likely meant to be engraved as a collection of picturesque prints, and letters to and from family, friends, and patrons. The exhibition traces Cole’s artistic career, his personal life, and the legacy he left behind following his untimely death in 1848.