(b Bolton, Lancashire [now in Greater Manchester], 1 Feb. 1801; d Catskill, NY, 11 Feb. 1848).
The outstanding American landscape painter of the first half of the 19th century, a founder of the Hudson River School. His family emigrated from England to America in 1818 and he became passionately devoted to the natural scenery of his new country. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, 1823–5, then settled in New York, where he was an immediate success, his work being bought by Dunlap, Durand, and Trumbull. He soon began making sketching trips in the Hudson River Valley, and he settled there, in the village of Catskill, in 1836. In 1829–32 he visited Europe, and it was partly the influence of Turner and John Martin that encouraged him to turn from the depiction of natural scenery towards grandiose historical and allegorical themes, notably in two great series of paintings: The Course of Empire (1833–6, New-York Historical Society) and The Voyage of Life (1839–40, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Inst., Utica). He visited Europe again in 1841–2, and after this he was increasingly attracted to religious subjects.