Existing comment: Thomas Cole
View of Mount Etna, ca 1842

Thomas Cole, considered the founder of the Hudson River school, is most celebrated for his naturalistic landscapes of New York's Catskills regions. Yet he also had a deep reverence for Italian painting and Old World scenery, as this work suggests. A southern view of the iconic volcano looming over a fertile Sicilian valley, the oil is one of approximately six versions of Cole's favorite Italian subject; he called Mount Etna "one of the grandest scenes in the world." In such imagery the artist celebrated Italy's many natural and historic wonders, rendering them with an aesthetic grandeur and rich symbolism in his pursuit of a more elevated form of landscape painting.
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