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Cedar Grove, Home of Thomas Cole

Thomas Cole, one of the founding members of America's first school of art, the Hudson River School, arrived at the Catskill Mountain wilderness in 1825 and painted the breathtakingly beautiful landscapes he saw there. Many of these views remain remarkably unchanged, and can be found within 15 miles of Cedar Grove. He returned in subsequent years, eventually boarding at Cedar Grove, a farm owned by the local merchant, John A. Thomson. Initially, Cole was at Cedar Grove in the summer, but in 1836 he found a permanent home at the property when he married one of Mr. Thomson's nieces, Maria Bartow. From the first, Cedar Grove and the Catskill Mountain region nurtured Thomas Cole's artistry. In his “Essay on American Scenery” (1835), Cole said the local landscape had “varied, undulating, and exceedingly beautiful outlines – [the Catskills] heave from the valley of the Hudson like the subsiding billows of the ocean after a storm.” In this setting, in his “painting room” at Cedar Grove, Thomas Cole created many of the Hudson River School masterpieces that assured his fame.

Thomas Cole was born in 1801 at Bolton, Lancashire in Northwestern England and emigrated with his family to the United States in 1818. During the early years Cole lived for short periods in Philadelphia, Ohio, and Pittsburgh where he worked as an itinerant portrait artist. Although primarily self-taught, Cole worked with members of the Philadelphia Academy, and his canvases were included in the Academy's exhibitions.

Cole discovered the haunting beauty of the Catskill wilderness. His exhibition of small paintings of landscapes came to the attention of prominent figures on the New York City art scene including Asher B. Durand, who became a life-long friend, and his fame spread. While he was still in his twenties, Cole was made a fellow of the National Academy.

 

You are invited to come and visit Cole's home and studio in Catskill. A visit to Cedar Grove provides entry to the world of the man who became the father of American landscape painting and founder of the Hudson River School of art. Visitors are invited to gather in the Visitor Center where they may purchase tickets and reserve a place for the guided tour of the Main House and the Old Studio. Admission to the grounds is free of charge, including the historic perennial gardens, the 200-year-old Honey Locust tree, and the west porch where one of the most perfect views of the Catskill Mountain range can be enjoyed. A mountain-view guide is situated on the western part of the porch to enable you to identify the major peaks in the mountain landscape. The guided tour leaves from the Visitor Center with groups of about 12 visitors at a time, and enters the 1815 Federal yellow-brick Main House which contains the historic rooms where the Cole family lived, including the West Parlor where Thomas Cole was married, and the West Bedroom where his children were born and where Cole breathed his last breath in 1848. The Main House also includes gallery rooms, where exhibitions of art from the Hudson River School and beyond are on display. The tour continues into the "Old Studio" where Cole painted many of his best known works, and where Cole's original easel and art-making materials are on view. At the conclusion of the tour, visitors may wish to browse the museum shop where a variety of items related to Thomas Cole and landscape painting are available for purchase, and to read the educational panels and displays before they depart.

Visiting Cedar Grove

Hours: The Main House and Studio are open by guided tour. From the first Saturday in May through the last Sunday in October, tours are offered Friday, Saturday & Sunday 10 am-4 pm. In addition, the house is open Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Independence Day, 1-4 pm. Tours are offered at other times by appointment. Tours of the Main House begin approximately every hour on a first-come-first-served basis. Tours last about 40 minutes, and each tour is limited to approximately 12 people. Group tours are welcome 7 days a week by advance appointment by calling 518-943-7465 or email grouptours@thomascole.org.

Admission: Admission to the Main House and Old Studio is by guided tour. Tickets are $6 per person during regular open hours. Please purchase tickets in the Visitor Center. Admission to the grounds is free of charge.

Specifics on visiting Thomas Cole's Cedar Grove were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
 
 
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