By the 1840s, when he painted this view, Thomas Cole was at the fore of a new movement in American landscape painting that would later be known as the "Hudson River School." Cole and his circle produced expansive and relatively detailed views of the American Northeast, focusing on sights like this one, which were increasingly popular among the country's first tourists. The Mountain House was an early resort hotel set on a high Catskill Mountain plateau, from which visitors could look out for miles over the Hudson River Valley. Cole painted himself into the wild setting of the foreground, establishing the vantage point from which the viewer is offered a panoramic vista of the area's best-known features, including the distinctive mountains, High Peak and Round Top, and North and South Lakes—still favorite destinations of tourists and hikers.
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Thomas Cole (American, 1801-1848). A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House, Catskill Mountains, Morning, 1844. Oil on canvas, 35 13/16 x 53 7/8 in. (91 x 136.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 52.16