Monday, July 9, 2007

Asher Durand at the Cole House

Yesterday Larry and I took a ride up to Catskill to the Thomas Cole house.

Thomas Cole was the founder of the Hudson River School of Art and changed the course of landscape painting in America. He was the teacher of Asher Durand and Frederick Church who became great painters themselves, and spawned a few generations of Hudson River Painters.

Cole lived a mere 47 years but his legacy lives on in history. The house has been restored after years of neglect. The state had bought Olana, Church's estate, and was offered Cole's house, studio and paintings for a pittance but turned it down. I bet they are kicking themselves in the butt now!

There is a small show of Asher B. Durand's work in one of the rooms of the Cole house, two of the paintings shown here. I took the photos in natural light as I would never flash artwork. Photos hand held on my Canon Powershot A75 (still need that mono pod however). Graphics get totally compressed here, but you get the sense of the paintings.

Durand was an engraver, and Cole recognized his talent and gave him painting lessons. Cole attended the academy only briefly, and was for the most part self-taught. (oh am I jealous..) Durand became quite a good painter, and is known for the painting Kindred Spirits which was a memoriam to Cole after he died. Cole is shown standing on a rock ledge in a generic Catskill landscape with William Cullen Bryant. The painting was sold to the Walmart heiress a few years ago and made front page headlines for its record-breaking price.

The tour was not long enough for me as I am a looker, however if you take the tour, you can also head up the road to Olana, Frederick Church's estate which is much more lavish than Coles. It has just reopened from more restoration work...and that will be our next trip. (Larry and I got married at Olana overlooking the Hudson over 10 years ago...another place of magic in the Catskills)

Two other mansions of note: Clermont on the Hudson, which was owned my the Livingstons of railroad fame, and Montgomery Place near Bard College. All are in the same area and are within 30 minutes or so from one another. Bring lunch and money as Olana and Montgomery place have quite lovely gift shops. Cole's shop is much smaller, but has some wonderful books.

PS: Bard collage is another wonderful place to visit. There is a museum, wonderful gardens, Fisher Hall designed by Frank Gehry, and the fabulous Spiegeltent Cabaret is up featuring incredible entertainment and dancing. See you there!!


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