Genesee Scenery is an oil painting by Thomas Cole, which was completed in 1847. The painting is a celebration of nature’s beauty depicted through the Genesee River in New York State. Cole was the first to depict this section of the river and relied on carefully drawn sketches to construct a composite viewpoint for the painting.
Critics regard Genesee Scenery as one of Cole’s “real” paintings, but he likely idealized some elements to capture nature’s best features rather than providing a direct transcription of the scene onto canvas. The style of traditional landscape painting presented natural scenes that were both romanticized and idealized by images that promoted beauty, picturesque aesthetics, and wilderness preservation movements.
Thomas Cole founded the Hudson River School art movement that celebrated America’s countryside while reflecting moral sentiments about progress at large. In Genesee Scenery, he illustrates how diverse landscape views can stimulate different human feelings depending on one’s personal encounters with natural environments. Overall, this artwork serves as a monument to American nation-building dreams and anxieties about westward expansion during the mid-19th century.