In 1826, fresh from the success of his painting View of Fort Putnam, Thomas Cole accepted an invitation from George William Featherstonhaugh to winter at his estate in upstate New York, where the artist produced paintings in return for room and board. More than just a record of what he observed on the estate, Cole's depiction is also a "portrait" of his patron. The grazing sheep--a special breed known as the Border Leicester--were imported by Mr. Featherstonhaugh from England. The boulder in the foreground, where Cole has placed his signature, alludes to Featherstonhaugh's campaign to educate New York farmers about the importance of geology to farming.
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