Human nature … Thomas Cole’s Catskill Mountain House (1845-1847). Photograph: Francis G Mayer/Corbis
When the painter Thomas Cole headed out of New York into the upriver wilderness of the Catskills in the early 19th century, he discovered a new world of colour. Forests in the American fall were new territory for landscape art – a brave new world of reds and purples. Cole, who founded the American style of Romantic landscape that was to be called the Hudson River School, put the chromatic spectacle of America’s fall leaves into the history of painting with Falls of the Kaaterskill and Shroon Mountain.