Thomas Cole was born in 1801 at Bolton, Lancashire in Northwestern England and emigrated with his family to the United States in 1818. During the early years Cole lived for short periods in Philadelphia, Ohio, and Pittsburgh where he worked as an itinerant portrait artist. Although primarily self-taught, Cole worked with members of the Philadelphia Academy, and his canvases were included in the Academy's exhibitions.In 1825, Cole discovered the haunting beauty of the Catskill wilderness. His exhibition of small paintings of Catskill landscapes came to the attention of prominent figures on the New York City art scene including Asher B. Durand, who became a life-long friend, and his fame spread. While he was still in his twenties, Cole was made a fellow of the National Academy.