The painter Thomas Cole was an analog kind of guy. He created things that were used as models for other things. His most famous stuff, of course, were the paintings he created. He turned out to have real talent at that.
But he also did other things. The man who would become the founding painter of the Hudson River School learned as a teenager in England to draw designs on fabrics and in Pittsburgh to decorate textiles that his father made. This future landscape painter was attracted by landscape design and interior decorating. He liked to draw images to adorn furniture. He would add representational pictorial ornamentation to objects.
Two years ago a visiting conservator was excited to discover that Cole had made drawings on the interior walls in his house in Catskill. Senator Charles Schumer announced federal money was being made available to restore these friezes. “When people from abroad come to my office, they know the Hudson River School,” the senior senator told a New York Times reporter last July. “It’s like something out of a movie.”
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