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Overview:

A small independent agency, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) advises other federal agencies, the President, Congress, and District of Columbia government officials on architectural design and other art matters affecting the preservation and enhancement of Washington D.C. in light of its role as the Nation’s Capital. CFA also advises government entities on design and aesthetics areas involving other federal interests, and administers the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs (NCACA) program, which provides operational support grants to D.C.-based non-profit organizations whose primary mission is performing or exhibiting the arts.

 
more
History:

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whenever an individual or group in the field of art or architecture brought a proposal to the government, Congress authorized the appointment of an ad hoc committee, primarily made up of laymen, to advise on it, and when the process was over, the committee members went their separate ways. Then, inspired by the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and the City Beautiful Movement, which advocated beautification in architecture, landscaping, and city planning as a way to also uplift the spirit, members of the American Institute of Architects and the Cosmos Club got together and proposed legislation for a permanent art commission consisting of two presidential appointees and the presidents of the American Institute of Architects, the National Academy of Design, and the National Sculpture Society. However, Congress preferred an advisory commission, with its members all being presidential or congressional appointees, so the bill didn’t pass.

 

In 1900, the American Institute of Architects gained an ally in Senator James McMillan, Chairman of the Senate committee on the District of Columbia, and in March 1901 he secured passage of a Senate resolution that created the Senate Park Commission. Often called the McMillan Commission, and made up of three architects and a sculptor, it was formed to devise “plans for the development and improvement of the entire park system of the District of Columbia.” The four members focused their research on Washington and European cities and parks, and then made their recommendations: they proposed adhering to the principles of the L’Enfant Plan of 1791, which was the ambitious vision of French-born architect Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, who had been given the responsibility for conceiving a D.C. layout design by President George Washington, for whom he had been an engineer in the Revolutionary War. But personality and other conflicts led to L’Enfant’s dismissal from the D.C. designing project before it was put into effect, and the McMillan Commission’s attention to it was the first serious focus on L’Enfant’s proposals since he lost the job. In addition, the McMillan Commission, in its recommendations, suggested devising a coordinated park system for the District, placing particular attention on the Mall and the location of a memorial to President Abraham Lincoln. Those ideas became the Plan of 1901 for Washington.

 

Eight years later, shortly before he left office, President Theodore Roosevelt, in response to an initiative from the American Institute of Architects, issued an Executive Order creating a 30-member Council of Fine Arts. In its first meeting, the group selected a site for the Lincoln Memorial, and the McMillan Commission approved it, but then Congress wouldn’t fund the Council, since it was established only by an Executive Order, so it eventually disbanded. However, the next president, William Howard Taft, also had an interest in the idea of a fine arts commission—if it could be established by congressional legislation. So he encouraged New York Senator Elihu Root in that direction, and the bill Root introduced, sponsored in the House by Samuel W. McCall of Massachusetts, established the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA)  on May 17, 1910, as a federal agency, to be made up of experts in the arts, authorized to advise on the location of statues, fountains, and monuments in public areas in the District of Columbia. On October 25, 1910, President Taft issued an Executive Order authorizing the commission to also advise on plans for public buildings erected by the Federal Government within the District of Columbia. Since that time, several further measures impacting CFA’s duties have been enacted.

 

The Shipstead-Luce Act of 1930 gave the Commission specific authority to review the designs of private construction projects which front or abut the grounds of the Capitol, the White House, a portion of Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and the White House, Rock Creek Park and Rock Creek and Potomac Parkways, the National Zoo, the Mall Park system, Southwest Waterfront, and Fort McNair. As a result of the Old Georgetown Act of 1950, which designated the area as a historic district, the CFA received the authority to appoint a Board to conduct design reviews on the height, color and exterior appearance of structures within Georgetown’s boundaries, as well as review permits for alteration, reconstruction or razing, and then forward their recommendations for concept and permit applications to the Commission for final approval. In accordance with the Commemorate Works Act and the American Battle Monuments Act, the Commission was charged with approving the site and design for national memorials, both in the U.S. and abroad, and in 1987 the role of administering the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program was transferred to the CFA from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

more
What it Does:

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) is made up of seven members appointed by the President, who serve without compensation and may be architects, landscapers, painters, planners, sculptors, or others in the fine arts field. Their responsibilities include:

  • Advise at the request of the President or any congressional committee on all matters of art and aesthetics involving the Federal government and the architectural and landscaping plans and designs for public structures and parks in Washington D.C., or a representative’s home district.
  • Approve submissions in accordance with the American Battle Monuments and Commemorative Work Acts on matters pertaining to the location and design of national memorials and monuments in the U.S. and on foreign soil.
  • Work with the National Capital Planning Commission on the National Capital Framework Plan, a joint project of the two agencies begun in 2006 that focuses on improving the areas around the National Mall and identifying new locations for natural cultural attractions to relieve pressure on the National Mall and benefit the whole city.
  • Provide advice to the U.S. Mint on the design and execution of medals, insignia, and circulating and commemorative coins.
  • Concur on designs the Heraldic Branch of Quartermaster Corps of the Department of the Army is considering.
  • Advise the D.C. government on all public and private construction and display of advertising in the areas designated under the Shipstead-Luce and Old Georgetown Acts.
  • Hold monthly meetings open to the public to review design project submissions.
  • Advise the Department of State through Section 206 of the Foreign Missions act on foreign chanceries in all areas under the jurisdiction of the Commission, including the International Center.
  • Conduct research to identify D.C. buildings and areas of lasting merit to assure they’re not destructed or impaired during new construction plans, and engage in publication activities that support the preservation and enhancement of the city.
  • Make recommendations regarding upcoming and ongoing projects such as the Armed Forced Retirement Home Master Plan and Old Convention Site Redevelopment.
  • Administer the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs Program, authorized to distribute up to $9.5 million in grants each year to various nonprofit local artistic and cultural programs.
  • Approve acquisitions as proposed by and for the Freer Gallery of Art in accordance with a codicil to the will of Charles Lang Freer.

 

From the Web Site of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts   

Federal and District Government Projects

Meetings Documents

National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs Program

News and Announcements

Old Georgetown Act

Regulatory and Legislative History

Submission Requirements for Direct Submission Concept review

Submission Requirements for Direct Submission Final Review

Submission Requirements for Old Georgia Act Concept Review

Submission Requirements for Old Georgia Act Permit Review

Submission Requirements for Shipstead-Luce Act Concept Review

Submission Requirements for Shipstead-Luce Act Permit Review

more
Where Does the Money Go:

The CFA FY 2013 Budget Justifications (pdf) provides the following outline of expected spending for that fiscal year:

Total personnel compensation                                                           $1,068,000

Personnel benefits (civilian)                                                                   $325,000

Purchases of goods and services                                                            $321,000

Rental payments to GSA                                                                      $286,000

Workers compensation payments                                                           $55,000

Travel and transportation of persons                                                                  $55,000

Communications, utilities, and miscellaneous charges                             $31,000

Supplies and materials                                                                             $26,000

Transportation of things                                                                            $4,000

Equipment                                                                                                 $3,000

Printing and reproduction                                                                         $1,000

Total obligations                                                                                 $2,175,000

 

According to USASpending.gov, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) has spent more than $13.6 billion this decade on 175,369 contractor transactions for services ranging from ADP Systems Development ($790,882,644) and property maintenance ($682,149,875) to miscellaneous professional services ($680,756,305), other ADP and telecommunications services ($658,743,592), and ADP software ($408,330,439).

 

The top four recipients of CFA contracts between 2002 and 2011 are:

1. Miscellaneous Foreign Contractors                                                $432,795,740

2. Lockheed Martin Corporation                                                        $429,304,231

3. Hewlett-Packard Company                                                            $199,674,437 

4. Government of the United States                                                   $176,922,780

more
Controversies:

Martin Luther King Statue “Made in China”?

No shortage of controversy surrounded the building of a statue for the National Mall in Washington D.C. to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) caught square in the middle.

 

The financing and hiring of a sculptor for the project was done by the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation Inc. But the Commission of Fine Arts had final say before construction could begin.

 

Trouble first arose after the King foundation hired an artist in Changsha, China—Lei Yixin, with 150 public monuments in China to his credit—to build a towering likeness of MLK. This was followed by news that workers from China would be imported to construct the memorial at the site. American artists and civil rights advocates objected to the use of Chinese sculptors.

 

“Dr. King’s statue is to be shipped here in a crate that supposedly says ‘Made in China.’ That’s just obscene,” Lea Winfrey Young, an Atlanta resident whose husband is an artist, told The Washington Post.

 

At one point the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts expressed concern over the look of the statue, saying it resembled those built in Communist countries to glorify socialist leaders. The commission also said the sculpture looked too confrontational.

 

Two months before the October 2011 dedication of the statue, poet and author Maya Angelou criticized the selection of a paraphrased quotation from MLK on the base of the new memorial.

 

On February 4, 1968, King delivered a sermon at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, two months before he was assassinated, about a eulogy that could be given when he died.

 

King said: “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

 

The CFA was at first led to believe that the entire 46-word quote would appear on the monument. But due to space limitations, those working on the memorial edited it down to: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

 

Angelou said the shortened version made the civil rights leader sound like an “arrogant twit.” In February 2012, it was agreed that the inscription would be redone to include the entire quotation, requiring that perhaps as much as five inches of stone would have to be carved out and a new slab attached, at a cost of between $150,000 and $600,000.

A King Statue 'Made in China'? (by Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post)

Chinese Man Sculpts Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial (by Lisa Chiu, About.com)

Martin Luther King Memorial Slated for August 2011 Dedication – But Controversy Continues (by Charles Ray, Socyberty)

Maya Angelou: MLK Memorial Makes Him Sound Like 'Arrogant Twit' (Associated Press)

The Other Ellipse: Could Three Little Dots Have Fixed the MLK Memorial? (by Simon van Zuylen-Wood, Washington City Paper)

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotation to be Replaced on Memorial (by Carol Morello, Washington Post)

Chinese Sculptors Brought in to Work on Martin Luther King Statue in D.C. (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

more

Comments

presley burroughs 5 years ago
i have found a trove of work from the wpa artist kingsley dawson brock. the heirs need this extensive collection cataloged and STORED SAFELY. PLEASE HELP

Leave a comment

Founded: 1910
Annual Budget: $2.175 million (FY 2013 Request)
Employees: 10 (FY 2013 Request)
Official Website: http://www.cfa.gov/
U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA)
Powell, Earl
Chairman
Earl A. Powell III was named Chairman by the Commission in May, 2005. He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1966 with a double major in Art History and European History. He joined the U.S. Navy, serving as an officer until 1969, and was in the Naval Reserve from 1976 until 1980. In 1970 Powell received his Master’s degree from Harvard, where he was a Teaching Fellow in Fine Arts from 1970 to 1974. In 1974 he also earned a PhD from Harvard, his fields of expertise including 19th and 20th century European and American art. From 1974 to 1976, at the University of Texas at Austin, he was Curator of the Michener Collection, and Assistant Professor of Art History. After that, he was a Curator, Senior Staff Assistant to the Assistant Director and Chief Curator, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., from 1976 to 1978. From 1979 to 1980 Powell was the Executive Curator at the National Gallery and from 1980 to 1992 he was the Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Since 1992 Powell has been the Director of the National Gallery of Art. He has published several works, including a monograph on the 19th century American artist Thomas Cole. 
more
Bookmark and Share
Overview:

A small independent agency, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) advises other federal agencies, the President, Congress, and District of Columbia government officials on architectural design and other art matters affecting the preservation and enhancement of Washington D.C. in light of its role as the Nation’s Capital. CFA also advises government entities on design and aesthetics areas involving other federal interests, and administers the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs (NCACA) program, which provides operational support grants to D.C.-based non-profit organizations whose primary mission is performing or exhibiting the arts.

 
more
History:

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whenever an individual or group in the field of art or architecture brought a proposal to the government, Congress authorized the appointment of an ad hoc committee, primarily made up of laymen, to advise on it, and when the process was over, the committee members went their separate ways. Then, inspired by the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and the City Beautiful Movement, which advocated beautification in architecture, landscaping, and city planning as a way to also uplift the spirit, members of the American Institute of Architects and the Cosmos Club got together and proposed legislation for a permanent art commission consisting of two presidential appointees and the presidents of the American Institute of Architects, the National Academy of Design, and the National Sculpture Society. However, Congress preferred an advisory commission, with its members all being presidential or congressional appointees, so the bill didn’t pass.

 

In 1900, the American Institute of Architects gained an ally in Senator James McMillan, Chairman of the Senate committee on the District of Columbia, and in March 1901 he secured passage of a Senate resolution that created the Senate Park Commission. Often called the McMillan Commission, and made up of three architects and a sculptor, it was formed to devise “plans for the development and improvement of the entire park system of the District of Columbia.” The four members focused their research on Washington and European cities and parks, and then made their recommendations: they proposed adhering to the principles of the L’Enfant Plan of 1791, which was the ambitious vision of French-born architect Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, who had been given the responsibility for conceiving a D.C. layout design by President George Washington, for whom he had been an engineer in the Revolutionary War. But personality and other conflicts led to L’Enfant’s dismissal from the D.C. designing project before it was put into effect, and the McMillan Commission’s attention to it was the first serious focus on L’Enfant’s proposals since he lost the job. In addition, the McMillan Commission, in its recommendations, suggested devising a coordinated park system for the District, placing particular attention on the Mall and the location of a memorial to President Abraham Lincoln. Those ideas became the Plan of 1901 for Washington.

 

Eight years later, shortly before he left office, President Theodore Roosevelt, in response to an initiative from the American Institute of Architects, issued an Executive Order creating a 30-member Council of Fine Arts. In its first meeting, the group selected a site for the Lincoln Memorial, and the McMillan Commission approved it, but then Congress wouldn’t fund the Council, since it was established only by an Executive Order, so it eventually disbanded. However, the next president, William Howard Taft, also had an interest in the idea of a fine arts commission—if it could be established by congressional legislation. So he encouraged New York Senator Elihu Root in that direction, and the bill Root introduced, sponsored in the House by Samuel W. McCall of Massachusetts, established the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA)  on May 17, 1910, as a federal agency, to be made up of experts in the arts, authorized to advise on the location of statues, fountains, and monuments in public areas in the District of Columbia. On October 25, 1910, President Taft issued an Executive Order authorizing the commission to also advise on plans for public buildings erected by the Federal Government within the District of Columbia. Since that time, several further measures impacting CFA’s duties have been enacted.

 

The Shipstead-Luce Act of 1930 gave the Commission specific authority to review the designs of private construction projects which front or abut the grounds of the Capitol, the White House, a portion of Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and the White House, Rock Creek Park and Rock Creek and Potomac Parkways, the National Zoo, the Mall Park system, Southwest Waterfront, and Fort McNair. As a result of the Old Georgetown Act of 1950, which designated the area as a historic district, the CFA received the authority to appoint a Board to conduct design reviews on the height, color and exterior appearance of structures within Georgetown’s boundaries, as well as review permits for alteration, reconstruction or razing, and then forward their recommendations for concept and permit applications to the Commission for final approval. In accordance with the Commemorate Works Act and the American Battle Monuments Act, the Commission was charged with approving the site and design for national memorials, both in the U.S. and abroad, and in 1987 the role of administering the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program was transferred to the CFA from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

more
What it Does:

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) is made up of seven members appointed by the President, who serve without compensation and may be architects, landscapers, painters, planners, sculptors, or others in the fine arts field. Their responsibilities include:

  • Advise at the request of the President or any congressional committee on all matters of art and aesthetics involving the Federal government and the architectural and landscaping plans and designs for public structures and parks in Washington D.C., or a representative’s home district.
  • Approve submissions in accordance with the American Battle Monuments and Commemorative Work Acts on matters pertaining to the location and design of national memorials and monuments in the U.S. and on foreign soil.
  • Work with the National Capital Planning Commission on the National Capital Framework Plan, a joint project of the two agencies begun in 2006 that focuses on improving the areas around the National Mall and identifying new locations for natural cultural attractions to relieve pressure on the National Mall and benefit the whole city.
  • Provide advice to the U.S. Mint on the design and execution of medals, insignia, and circulating and commemorative coins.
  • Concur on designs the Heraldic Branch of Quartermaster Corps of the Department of the Army is considering.
  • Advise the D.C. government on all public and private construction and display of advertising in the areas designated under the Shipstead-Luce and Old Georgetown Acts.
  • Hold monthly meetings open to the public to review design project submissions.
  • Advise the Department of State through Section 206 of the Foreign Missions act on foreign chanceries in all areas under the jurisdiction of the Commission, including the International Center.
  • Conduct research to identify D.C. buildings and areas of lasting merit to assure they’re not destructed or impaired during new construction plans, and engage in publication activities that support the preservation and enhancement of the city.
  • Make recommendations regarding upcoming and ongoing projects such as the Armed Forced Retirement Home Master Plan and Old Convention Site Redevelopment.
  • Administer the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs Program, authorized to distribute up to $9.5 million in grants each year to various nonprofit local artistic and cultural programs.
  • Approve acquisitions as proposed by and for the Freer Gallery of Art in accordance with a codicil to the will of Charles Lang Freer.

 

From the Web Site of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts   

Federal and District Government Projects

Meetings Documents

National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs Program

News and Announcements

Old Georgetown Act

Regulatory and Legislative History

Submission Requirements for Direct Submission Concept review

Submission Requirements for Direct Submission Final Review

Submission Requirements for Old Georgia Act Concept Review

Submission Requirements for Old Georgia Act Permit Review

Submission Requirements for Shipstead-Luce Act Concept Review

Submission Requirements for Shipstead-Luce Act Permit Review

more
Where Does the Money Go:

The CFA FY 2013 Budget Justifications (pdf) provides the following outline of expected spending for that fiscal year:

Total personnel compensation                                                           $1,068,000

Personnel benefits (civilian)                                                                   $325,000

Purchases of goods and services                                                            $321,000

Rental payments to GSA                                                                      $286,000

Workers compensation payments                                                           $55,000

Travel and transportation of persons                                                                  $55,000

Communications, utilities, and miscellaneous charges                             $31,000

Supplies and materials                                                                             $26,000

Transportation of things                                                                            $4,000

Equipment                                                                                                 $3,000

Printing and reproduction                                                                         $1,000

Total obligations                                                                                 $2,175,000

 

According to USASpending.gov, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) has spent more than $13.6 billion this decade on 175,369 contractor transactions for services ranging from ADP Systems Development ($790,882,644) and property maintenance ($682,149,875) to miscellaneous professional services ($680,756,305), other ADP and telecommunications services ($658,743,592), and ADP software ($408,330,439).

 

The top four recipients of CFA contracts between 2002 and 2011 are:

1. Miscellaneous Foreign Contractors                                                $432,795,740

2. Lockheed Martin Corporation                                                        $429,304,231

3. Hewlett-Packard Company                                                            $199,674,437 

4. Government of the United States                                                   $176,922,780

more
Controversies:

Martin Luther King Statue “Made in China”?

No shortage of controversy surrounded the building of a statue for the National Mall in Washington D.C. to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) caught square in the middle.

 

The financing and hiring of a sculptor for the project was done by the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation Inc. But the Commission of Fine Arts had final say before construction could begin.

 

Trouble first arose after the King foundation hired an artist in Changsha, China—Lei Yixin, with 150 public monuments in China to his credit—to build a towering likeness of MLK. This was followed by news that workers from China would be imported to construct the memorial at the site. American artists and civil rights advocates objected to the use of Chinese sculptors.

 

“Dr. King’s statue is to be shipped here in a crate that supposedly says ‘Made in China.’ That’s just obscene,” Lea Winfrey Young, an Atlanta resident whose husband is an artist, told The Washington Post.

 

At one point the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts expressed concern over the look of the statue, saying it resembled those built in Communist countries to glorify socialist leaders. The commission also said the sculpture looked too confrontational.

 

Two months before the October 2011 dedication of the statue, poet and author Maya Angelou criticized the selection of a paraphrased quotation from MLK on the base of the new memorial.

 

On February 4, 1968, King delivered a sermon at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, two months before he was assassinated, about a eulogy that could be given when he died.

 

King said: “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

 

The CFA was at first led to believe that the entire 46-word quote would appear on the monument. But due to space limitations, those working on the memorial edited it down to: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

 

Angelou said the shortened version made the civil rights leader sound like an “arrogant twit.” In February 2012, it was agreed that the inscription would be redone to include the entire quotation, requiring that perhaps as much as five inches of stone would have to be carved out and a new slab attached, at a cost of between $150,000 and $600,000.

A King Statue 'Made in China'? (by Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post)

Chinese Man Sculpts Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial (by Lisa Chiu, About.com)

Martin Luther King Memorial Slated for August 2011 Dedication – But Controversy Continues (by Charles Ray, Socyberty)

Maya Angelou: MLK Memorial Makes Him Sound Like 'Arrogant Twit' (Associated Press)

The Other Ellipse: Could Three Little Dots Have Fixed the MLK Memorial? (by Simon van Zuylen-Wood, Washington City Paper)

Martin Luther King Jr. Quotation to be Replaced on Memorial (by Carol Morello, Washington Post)

Chinese Sculptors Brought in to Work on Martin Luther King Statue in D.C. (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

more

Comments

presley burroughs 5 years ago
i have found a trove of work from the wpa artist kingsley dawson brock. the heirs need this extensive collection cataloged and STORED SAFELY. PLEASE HELP

Leave a comment

Founded: 1910
Annual Budget: $2.175 million (FY 2013 Request)
Employees: 10 (FY 2013 Request)
Official Website: http://www.cfa.gov/
U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA)
Powell, Earl
Chairman
Earl A. Powell III was named Chairman by the Commission in May, 2005. He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1966 with a double major in Art History and European History. He joined the U.S. Navy, serving as an officer until 1969, and was in the Naval Reserve from 1976 until 1980. In 1970 Powell received his Master’s degree from Harvard, where he was a Teaching Fellow in Fine Arts from 1970 to 1974. In 1974 he also earned a PhD from Harvard, his fields of expertise including 19th and 20th century European and American art. From 1974 to 1976, at the University of Texas at Austin, he was Curator of the Michener Collection, and Assistant Professor of Art History. After that, he was a Curator, Senior Staff Assistant to the Assistant Director and Chief Curator, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., from 1976 to 1978. From 1979 to 1980 Powell was the Executive Curator at the National Gallery and from 1980 to 1992 he was the Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Since 1992 Powell has been the Director of the National Gallery of Art. He has published several works, including a monograph on the 19th century American artist Thomas Cole. 
more