Cole was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England in 1801. In 1818, his family emigrated to the United States and settled in Stowbovil, Ohio, where Cole studied the foundations of his future profession as a wandering portrette named Stein. However, he has little success with portraits and directs his interest in landscapes. In 1823, he moved to Pittsburgh, and next year to Philadelphia, where he met students from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He then returned to his parents and sister in New York in the early 1825.
In New York, Cole sells five paintings to George Bruan, who finances his summer trip to the Hudson River Valley, where Cole draws two paintings, "View from Coldspring," "Two Lakes and the Hotel in Mount Kettlel," as well as the well-known painting of Peterskill Falls and Fort Puntam. Upon his return to New York, he exposed five landscapes to the shop window of William Coleman; according to New York Evening Post, the paintings "View from Coldspring" were bought by A. Setton, who occupied them at the American Academy of Fine Arts for the annual exhibition in 1826. This attracted the attention of John Trumbull, William Dunlap and Asher Brown Durand. Among the paintings is a landscape called "A Look at Fort Ticonderoga". Trumbull is extremely impressed by the works of the young artist, searching for it and buying one of his paintings and associating him with many of his wealthy friends, including Robert Gilmore, and Daniel Wadsworth, who become Cole's important cartridges, becoming Cole's important cartridges.