View on the Catskill – Early Autumn (1836-1837)

I’m still catching my breath after writing Thursday’s big post on the life of Caroline Clark’s mentor, John G. McKindley. We’ll return to Caroline (Clark) Woodward, and see how her time with McKindley influenced her adult life and work, in just a bit.

In the meantime, here’s a lovely fall scene that would have looked very familiar to Mary (Turck) Clark’s mother Rachael (Gay) Turck, and to Rachael’s Gay and Van Loon / Van Loan parents and ancestors:

Cole, Thomas, View on the Catskill—Early Autumn, 1836-1837. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, gift in memory of Jonathan Sturges by his children, 1895. Public domain. Click to open larger image in new window.

Thomas Cole and the Catskill

Thomas Cole was born in England in 1801, and emigrated to the United States in 1818. In 1825 he moved to the town of Catskill, New York, where he lived and painted until his death in 1848. After early work as an engraver, Cole turned to painting and became famous for his evocative landscapes. He was a prominent member of the Hudson River School, and is considered one of the great American artists of the nineteenth century.

Cole was enraptured by the mountains, crags, and verdant valleys that rim the Hudson River in upstate New York and spent much of his time at his house near the town of Catskill, on the banks of Catskill Creek. By 1837, however, the landscape no longer resembled this canvas. The Canajoharie and Catskill Railroad was being constructed through its heart, dooming hundreds of trees. Cole, who was also a poet and an essayist, wrote in despair of the ruthless sacrifice. In the painting, the misty distant mountains, the calm light on the water, and the pastoral figures in the foreground constitute a scene that he mourned as lost forever.


The Catskill and Greene county, New York

Kill” is an old Dutch word for a body of water, most typically a creek or small river. The redundantly-named Catskill Creek is a tributary of the Hudson River, It originates in New York’s Catskill Mountains and flows down through parts of Schoharie and Albany counties before passing through Greene county and into the Hudson at Catskill village.

Greene county was the birthplace of Mary (Turck) Clark and her three closest siblings, Joseph R. Turck, Adamy (Turck) Whitehead, and Elizabeth (Turck) Maxon. It’s possible that Mary—born in 1821—might have remembered a Greene county view such as this from her childhood. Mary and her family moved to Wayne county, New York circa 1828, so siblings Joseph and Adamy—and certainly newborn Elizabeth—were probably too young to remember such a scene.

For more on Greene county and its role in Mary Clark’s Turck family—and her mother’s Gay, Groom and Van Loan/Van Loon families—see our earlier posts, including:

Coming up

I’ll be back next week with lots more on Caroline (Clark) Woodward’s life, work, and family. Then on to some Henry Clark and related Civil War matters, plus a few more “How’d they get here?” posts, interspersed with the usual hodgepodge of art, occupational portraits, and the occasional random bit of nonsense.

Enjoy your Fall weekend, wherever you are. See you soon.