When Thomas Cole suddenly appeared on the New York art scene in 1825 American artists could only marvel at the genius that his paintings exuded. His depictions of the Hudson River Valley and the Catskill Mountains immediately redirected the course of American art. Cole’s art proclaimed a radically new concept: the wilderness was not merely picturesque—it was also a revelation of the divine spirit. It was a subject to be painted as a celebration of the uniqueness and grandeur of nature in the New World. This idea transformed landscape painting into a visionary act, elevating the spectator to a higher plane of awareness.