Landscape Painting in America: Cole and Composed Paintings



Cole was most successful in selling composed landscape paintings, that is, landscape paintings of imaginary places. However, buyers generally prefered paintings of real places and wanted to know where they could go to compare the painting to the original. He frequently had to tell a buyer that the place was very far away and hard to find.

Cole was reluctant to paint real places because he believed that creativity arose out of the composition of imaginary places. To paint a real place would not involve any creativity, only technical skill.

Note the Salvator Rosa stump in the lower left.

Thomas Cole, The Notch of the White Mountains, 1839, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.