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"A Painter's Paradise": Cole and His Transformative Experience in Florence

  • Thomas Cole Historic Site (map)


John F. McGuigan, Jr.

Although Cole’s fame as a largely self-taught American artist was launched in 1825, it was his tutelage in Florence in 1831-2 with two of the most eminent artists then working in Tuscany – Giuseppe Bezzuoli, who became his drawing master, and Pietro Benvenuti, president of the Accademia delle Belle Arti – and the seminal influence of Scottish landscape painter George Augusts Wallis, that heralded Cole’s shift from being a gifted artist to his emergence as a great one. Join independent scholar John McGuigan as he explores the critical twelve months Cole lived and worked in Florence, the place Cole’s biographer called “next to home itself, the happiest place in which he ever lived,” and where he produced some of the finest paintings of his career.

Thomas Cole, View of Florence, 1837. Oil on canvas. 39 11/8 x 63 1/8 inches. Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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