Mount Desert Island Heritage

The Painters

Prior to the 1840's few people along the rapidly developing east coast of the United States had ever heard of Mount Desert Island, and those few who had heard of it often considered it to be a remote, rugged and almost forbidding place.

Around that time, a group of rather prominent artists and painters arose in the upstate New York area who became interested in depicting the beauty of American landscapes. Inspired by the scenery of the Hudson River Valley and the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, members of this group included such men as Thomas Birch, Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, William Hart, Charles Dix, Thomas Doughty, Sanford Gifford and Asher Durand. Their sweeping, often romanticized style became known as the Hudson River School of American Art.

Constantly in search of new and more dramatic areas to portray, a leader of this group, Thomas Cole, found his way to Mount Desert Island in 1844. In 1850 Cole was followed by Frederic Edwin Church. When their paintings of the island's spectacular scenery were displayed in New York, there was a huge outpouring of interest. Immediately people wanted to find out exactly where this wonderful place was located and how they might be able to get there.

Today, Mount Desert Island continues to be the subject of countless paintings and photographs by some of the world's best known artists. Many believe, however, that the most beautiful of these paintings were executed by the pioneers Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church.