Thomas Cole America's leading landscape painter during the first half of the nineteenth century, was born on February 1, 1801 in Bolton-le-Moor, England. Before emigrating with his family to the United States in 1818, he served as an engraver's assistant and as an apprentice to a designer of calico prints. Cole worked briefly as an engraver in Philadelphia before joining his family in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1819.
While in Ohio he apparently learned the rudiments of oil painting from an itinerant portrait painter named Stein. In 1823, during a stay in Pittsburgh, Cole began drawing from nature, creating closely observed and intensely expressive images of trees and branches.