Thomas Cole | Art Exhibition | Ravalli County Museum

Thomas Cole in Montana

Nina Sangimino | July 5th, 2013 | Posted in News

When one thinks of American artist Thomas Cole, images of the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains come to mind. But what about the wilderness of Montana? Well, that’s exactly where Cole has settled this summer with the new exhibition Thomas Cole: Wild Land and the Birth of the American Landscape at the Ravalli County Museum at the Old Courthouse in Hamilton, Montana. On view through August 11, the citizens of Montana now have the opportunity to learn more about an artist that helped form an American identity. Museum Director Tamar Stanley told the Ravalli Republic, “I can assure you that there is nothing like this in this part of the state right now.”

In an effort to bring important American art to the people of her state, Stanley applied to the National Endowment for the Humanities, NEH on the Road, to host this traveling exhibition organized by the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Inspired by the still somewhat untouched Montana landscape—there is only one person for every seven square miles in the state—Stanley thought views of the wilderness from the mid-19th century would be familiar to the Ravalli’s visitors and make for an easy introduction to this historic artistic movement.

The exhibition focuses on how artists of the Hudson   River School, led by Thomas Cole, as well as contemporary writers and intellectuals, shaped our views of the American landscape. Their work led to an appreciation that resulted in a conservation movement and National Park system. They also helped to forge a unique identity for the young nation, which strove to differentiate itself from Europe. The canvases of Thomas Cole helped us recognize our most distinct and valuable resources.

Thomas Cole, Ravalli County Museum, american landscape painting, art exhibition, art museum

Installation view of “Thomas Cole: Wild Land and the Birth of the American Landscape” at the Ravalli County Museum at the Old Courthouse, Hamilton, Montana

Thomas Cole, Lake with Dead Trees Catskill, 1825, oil on canvas

Thomas Cole, “Lake with Dead Trees (Catskill)”, 1825, oil on canvas, 27 x 33¾ inches. Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio. Gift of Charles F. Olney, 1904.1183.


Nina Sangimino is the Senior Researcher at Questroyal Fine Art. Nina discovered her love of art in high school drawing and painting classes. She went on to study art history at the University at Albany and earned an MS in the same field from Pratt Institute. Prior to joining Questroyal, Nina was a curatorial apprentice at the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport, New York.