A “single blow of genius.” That’s how one 19th-century observer described Thomas Cole’s renowned work, Prometheus Bound. Now, the painting will be on display at Vassar College’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center from November to May – as part of a 5-year loan arrangement with its owner, the Catskill Public Library.
Come to the first “Late Night at the Lehman Loeb” event that will include Prometheus Bound. The Art Center stays open late on Thursday evenings for “Late Night,” which includes tours, entertainment, and refreshments from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Docents will be available this Thursday to talk about Prometheus Bound and its significance in the Hudson River School movement. The event is always free and open to the public.
Before coming to Vassar, Prometheus Bound was on display at Cedar Grove, the Thomas Cole Historic Site in Catskill, which will also have the painting for part of each year, over the next five years. Cole took his inspiration for the 1847 canvas from the play by the same name written by Aeschylus. According to ancient mythology, the Greek Titan Prometheus used his god-like powers to give humans the gifts of life, creativity, and fire. However, he stole the fire from tyrannical Zeus – and Zeus punished Prometheus by chaining him to Mount Caucasus, a high peak between the Black and Caspian Seas. Day after day, an eagle or vulture fed on Prometheus, whose defenseless body was bound to the rock.
Prometheus Bound was one of several large paintings Cole produced in the mid-1840s. He entered Prometheus Bound in a competition at Westminster Hall, London, for the selection of paintings to hang in the new British Houses of Parliament. It was not selected, however.
As the founder of the Hudson River School of artists, Cole is widely regarded as one of the school’s most accomplished painters. He was born in 1801 in Northwestern England and moved with his family to the United States in 1818. Cole was primarily a self-taught artist, but also worked with members of the Philadelphia Academy. In 1825, he discovered the beauty of the wilderness of the Catskill Mountains and achieved fame with his paintings of the area. Cole went on to paint scenes inspired by his trips to Europe, but he returned to the U.S. to continue his landscape art, and mentored fellow Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church. In 1839, Cole married his wife in the living room of Cedar Grove, his home in Catskill. Cole died there in 1848 in a bedroom overlooking his beloved Catskill Mountains.
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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.
Thomas Cole’s Prometheus Bound
Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center gallery hours are:
Tue., Wed., Fri., Sat.
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
The art center
is closed Mondays.
For group tours
124 Raymond Ave., Box 9
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604-0009