Today’s post comes from Deborah Steinberg, class of 2014 and Art Center Student Intern.
If you are a frequent visitor to the Art Center, you may be wondering what happened to Thomas Cole’s oil painting, Prometheus Bound. A quintessential example of Hudson River School painting, this work can be seen in the section of the museum dedicated to 19th-century American landscapes—but only between October and April. Interestingly, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center has a special arrangement with the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, New York, that allows both museums to display the painting for six months of the year. The Art Center exhibits the painting while the historic site is closed for the winter months, thus substantially increasing the number and range of viewers with access to the painting. The unusual agreement was worked out between the Catskill Public Library (which owns the painting), the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center.
Because we are custodians of the painting for the majority of the academic year, the arrangement strengthens our commitment both to teaching students with original works of art and to making these works accessible to the general public. Cole himself was a strong advocate for public art and he intended for a larger, later painting of the subject to have a didactic function for British and American audiences. It seems that Prometheus Bound was destined to be shared to the advantage of the public! So, if you are in the Hudson Valley this summer and cannot wait until October to see Cole’s painting at the Art Center, take a trip up the river to the village of Catskill.