New York: H. Peters, 1855. Proofs. Print. Thomas Cole is known as the founder of the Hudson River School of landscape painting and produced both realistic and imaginary landscapes. Samuel Ward commissioned Cole to paint a set of four allegorical paintings in 1839. In September 1839, Cole described his painting of "Childhood" as "the finest picture that I have painted". Cole's paintings depict the stages of life from birth to death. Ward died before the set was finished and tussles with his estate led Cole, who had done tracings of the original paintings, to paint a second set of the oil paintings while in Europe.
In 1849, James Smillie, considered one of the finest engravers in he US, engraved "Youth" for the American Art Union (1839-1851). The favorable reception of this print led Smillie to engrave the three other voyages and issue the four print set in 1855."*
On offer here are the proof engravings of the set of four images. The first three, Childhood / Youth / Manhood all bear the text: Painted by Thomas Cole / Engraved by James Smillie / bottom Printed by H. Peters / Proof / (Title) / (two sets of verse) / From the Original Painting by Thomas Cole in the Possession of Revd. Gorham D. Abbott, Spingler Institute. New York. "Entered According to Act of Congress USA - by James Smillie in the Clerk's Office of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York". The fourth "Old Age" is a proof without letters. It bears only this text: "Painted by Thomas Cole / Engraved by James Smillie / "Entered According to Act of Congress USA - by James Smillie in the Clerk's Office of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York".
Restored & backed on acid free paper. The image "Youth" has a repaired closed tear from the margin just into the title & two marginal closed tears restored, and some faint water marks in the sky area. The other three images have only small marginal repairs. In all, a clean and stable set.
4 folio engravings, image size 15 1/4 x 22 3/4" plus text, on paper 20 x 26". Warm, white paper with wide margins.
* . Ref: "Thomas Cole. One Hundred Years Later. A Loan Exhibition." Boston and New York: Wadsworth Athenæum and Whitney Museum of American Art, 1949. Matthew Baigell, "Thomas Cole," New York, 1981. Very good condition. Item #26320