Cole's Circle


Gellée, Claude (c.1600-82)

Commonly known as Claude Lorrain, French-born landscape painter of the Baroque period, who worked predominantly in Rome. Cole was deeply influenced by Claude's paintings of beautiful and pastoral landscapes. Claude's works are particularly admired for their soft brushwork, pastel color palette, and framing motifs. Upon seeing Claude's work in Europe, Cole began to incorporate these techniques into his own work, such as in The Course of Empire: The Arcadian or Pastoral State (1834) and View on the Catskill, Early Autumn (1837).

Gifford, Sanford Robinson (1823-80)

Hudson River School painter and member of the National Academy of Design, where he took drawing lessons as a young aspiring artist. Like Asher B. Durand, Gifford turned from portrait to landscape painting after going on several sketching trips to the Catskills. Gifford may be considered a second-generation Hudson River School painter, turning away from Cole’s dramatic painting style in favor of a more subdued approach. A classic example of Gifford’s luminist work is Kauterskill Clove (1862). See Sanford R. Gifford.

Gilmor, Jr., Robert (1774–1848)

Merchant and prominent nineteenth-century art collector from Baltimore. One of Cole's early patrons, Gilmor commissioned A Wild Scene in 1831, which became the basis for The Course of Empire: The Savage State (1834). The correspondence between Gilmor and Cole reflects their conflicting opinions about composition and subject matter, and Cole often struggled with the difficult decision of whether to exercise his artistic autonomy or to paint exclusively to meet his patron's requirements.