Sketchbook No. 1, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
Date: 1823
Medium: Paper and leather, pencil, ink, charcoal
Dimensions: 9 5/8 H x 7 3/4 W, 29 pp.
Inscribed on front cover: My sketches [?] Book / No.1. / Pitsburg [sic] 1823
Credit: Gift of Mrs. Florence Cole Vincent
Accession Number: 1958.28.109
Thomas Cole's early Pittsburgh sketchbook, dated 1823, reveals the artist's fascination with nature, especially individual plants and trees. His close observation of nature is revealed in the color notes he made for the bark of different trees he observed along the Monongahela River and other locations in western Pennsylvania. One page of flower sketches, however, stands out in contrast to the more detailed and naturalistic drawings that Cole was making in 1823. The flowers are distinctively stylized and closely resemble the formulaic flowers and leaves presented in drawing instruction books of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.