Artists in Space: Thomas Cole and Frederic E. Church/ by Laurence Carr

One of my pleasurable, and always rewarding excursions in every season is to The Thomas Cole House and Olana, the home of Frederic E. Church. Cole, the founding figure of the Hudson River School of painting, and mentor to the younger Church, who became the central figure in the Hudson River School, have impressive homes and studio spaces.  And even if my artistic eye often drifts toward the abstract, there is a comfort and a complexity in viewing the 19th century works by these two masters of color, light, and form. 

Thomas Cole Studio

Both Cole and Church were artists of their time, steeped in the works of earlier schools of painting. But even as this laid the groundwork for their artistic sense, a new and very American tradition was being created. The expanse of the United States’ majestic landscape, and specifically the Hudson River Valley and the Catskill mountains, much of it untouched in the 19th century, inspired a deep sense of connection between artist and the land.

Cole’s Color Wheel

Lightwood magazine continues its series, “Artists in Space”, with photos of these artists’ working spaces and personal painting tools. And we hope you’ll get a chance to visit both the Thomas Cole country house and studio and Frederick Church’s eclectic Olana, with its Moorish and Italinate styles. Both give tours with knowledgeable docents and each presents extended exhibitions from both period and contemporary artists. This, along with the growing number of art museums and galleries in New York’s Hudson Valley, makes it a destination for the art enthusiast. Visit online:

The Thomas Cole Historical Site

Olana State Historic Site


Cole’s Paint Brush

Thomas Cole (1801-1848) was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England. In 1818, he and his family emigrated to the United States where he eventually created a home in Catskill, New York. In 1844, Cole took on the pupil, Frederick E. Church (1826-1900), who later became a central figure in the Hudson River School and known for his large-scale panoramic paintings.

Cole’s Painting Tools

Cole worked in what was called The Old Studio near his home. It provided the space where he could grind and mix pigments, build and stretch canvases and frame his paintings. From 1839 to 1846, Cole used The Old Studio. Afterwards The New Studio became his primary workspace.

Cole’s Pigments
Cole’s Palette

Church, an avid world traveler, also kept up his relationship with the New York City art scene and maintained a studio at the 10th Street Studio Building while living and entertaining at Olana in Hudson, NY.

Church’s Easel
Church’s Painting Tool Box

Church’s Tools


Laurence Carr is the publisher of

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