Thomas Cole's Falls of the Kaaterskill
I n 1826, Thomas Cole, a transplanted Englishman, painted this view of the Kaaterskill Falls in New York State, and thereby launched the first genuinely American school of painting, the Hudson River School. The painting is an evocative image of a wild landscape, an inverted triangle through which the river falls, from the upper right through a dark chasm to the second falls at the center left, leaping toward the viewer and crashing onto the rocks below. An otherworldly shaft of light falls from the threatening sky above and illuminates the brilliant colors of the autumn foliage flanking the lower . . .
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Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.
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