The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds

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Thomas Cole
The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds, 1833–34
Oil on canvas

Thomas Cole was America's first great landscape painter and the founder of the group of mid-nineteenth-century New York landscapists known as the Hudson River School.  The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds is Cole's largest canvas and one of his earliest and most ambitious attempts at historical landscape painting.  It was produced in New York during the winter of 1833-34, and as Cole later said, it was completed in the astonishingly brief span of "about two months."

Some scholars have noted that the middle shepherd bears a resemblance to Cole and may be an idealized self-portrait.