Ink on paper
9 5/8 H x 7 1/4 W
Signed, dated, and inscribed, lower left: Thomas Cole / May 20th 1823 / from Nature
Executed only four days after his Button Wood Tree, this drawing of a gnarled old tree trunk is one of Thomas Cole's most memorable images, rivaling his paintings in its ability to suggest meaning. The anthropomorphic tree, with hair-like grasses clinging to the upper branches, and stubby leg-like roots, evokes thoughts of old age and the transience of life. We know that this is one of Cole's early drawings made soon after he decided to work outdoors in order to portray nature fully and successfully. From Nature, with its intricately detailed, closely observed forms, clearly indicates how readily Cole took to his new task. This drawing is part of the Albany Institute's premier collection of more than 500 works by Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River school of painting.