The Catskill Mountains were an important subject for Cole from the beginning of his career; in 1836 he moved to the village of Catskill on the west bank of the Hudson River, and the distinctive undulating mountain peaks were a regular motif in his work. In this painting from his late career, the artist acknowledged the encroachment of civilization on his beloved mountains, but nonetheless depicted them as a haven where man and nature could harmoniously co-exist. From the 1820s on, the Catskill area became an increasingly popular tourist destination and commercial enterprise made inroads as well, to Cole's grave concern. In 1836 the Canajoharie & Catskill Railroad begin clearing land for a 26-mile line. In a letter that year to his patron Luman Reed, Cole fumed at "the dollar-godded utilitarians" who were cutting down trees in the valley. In this autumnal twilight view, the ax-hewn tree in the left foreground is a pointed reminder of man's presence, and the smoke in the background, carefully placed at the center of the composition, hints ominously at growing industry in the area. However, the viewer's eye ultimately rests upon the foreground figure pulling his small boat from the water as a companion, almost hidden in the rocks, gestures toward the still-wild, primeval woods.
QualityNYHistory Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections of the New-York Historical Society. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.
SelectionMany of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery. A variety of molding styles means our custom framed prints can match any type of decor.