Thomas Cole "Home in the Woods" Exhibit - Scott Livengood

Home in the Woods

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Thomas Cole is known primarily as the father of the Hudson River School of landscape painting.

Cole enjoyed the patronage of several prominent businessmen in New York City, and they would have been particularly interested in his depictions of the seemingly limitless resources of the country’s interior—the profusion of timber and the extensive network of rivers and lakes that would enable them to make their fortunes. They believed that settlement of the land would have nothing but beneficial effects.

It is Cole’s skill as an artist that enables him both to create an image that would both appeal to his patrons in its depiction of abundant resources and express his own concern about the effects of settlement on the land. In Cole’s Home in the Woods, a father returns home to the family cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, bringing with him a fresh catch that will serve as the family’s dinner. The family has cleared the land themselves—the chopped-down trees and sawn logs are prominent in the foreground of the painting. And it is through this detail that Cole reveals his stance on the settlement of unspoiled land in the country’s interior. In his 1836 “Essay on American Scenery,” Cole lamented the “ravages of the axe” that were destroying the wilderness as early as the 1830s.

In Home in the Woods, the ravages of the axe are prominently represented in the foreground. The artist clearly contrasts the area around the cabin, shorn of trees and littered with the family’s belongings, with the pristine mountains in the background. He seems to warn the viewer that, as more and more people arrive, these unspoiled places will disappear.

Home in the Woods was commissioned by the American Art-Union, a subscription society founded by a group of New York businessmen in 1840. The goal of this organization was to educate and enlighten American citizens by exposing them to fine art. Members of the union joined by paying five dollars per year, for which they received minutes of annual meetings, a print based on a work of fine art, and a lottery ticket which put them in the running to win a work of original art. In 1847, the American Art-Union commissioned Thomas Cole to produce a work for addition to their catalogue. At the annual meeting that year, George Dwight of Springfield, Massachusetts, won Home in the Woods by lottery.

About Scott Livengood

Scott Livengood is the owner and CEO of Dewey’s Bakery, Inc., a commercial wholesale bakery with a respected national brand of ultra premium cookies and crackers.

Previously, Scott worked at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for 27 years, starting as a trainee in 1977. He was appointed President of the company in 1992, then CEO and Chairman of the Board.

Scott has served on numerous boards including the Carter Center, the Calloway School of Business and the Babcock School of Management, Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, and the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.

He started a new business, StoryWork International, in 2016 with Richard Stone. The signature achievement to date is LivingStories, a story-based program for improved patient experiences and outcomes in partnership with Novant Health.