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Thomas Cole

.. ose description of this stage, “The Empire is asserted, although to a limited degree, over sea, land, and the animal kingdom” (qtd. in Parry156). In his second section, called “The Pastoral State,” the area is the same, but the perspective of the painting has slightly changed. Unlike the first stage with its broken trees, this stage is tamed and ordered. There are beautiful green grass fields in the scene, which may show that men have tamed the area in order to suit themselves.

This painting shows several people being busy in their daily lives and some even relaxing. For example, shepherds can be seen as well as thinkers, imperial soldiers, and women working on chores at the stream with their children. The animals are being used for agriculture work and some are grazing. More houses and different sorts of building styles can be seen compared to the first stage painting. In this painting, the mood appears to be calm and pleasant just like the way the people are enjoying themselves.

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Overall, this image represents a state in which man has changed nature to suit himself by taming the ones that are barbaric and being more civilized about the essential quality of nature. The third portion of this painting is “The Consummation of Empire.” There are great advances in this painting than the first two. Roads and other structures have been built. The water is calm, there are a few clouds, and two columns can be seen marking the entrance to the bay. A lot more people are present in this setting than the previous stages.

There are crowds of people seen walking on luxurious walkways, boats, and the buildings. The environment in this painting shows human beings as being prosperous and abundant. They have dominated nature by changing the natural world to fit them. The fourth part of the series is “Destruction.” In this scene, warriors are attacking the community and nothing can be seen but massacres and destruction. Fighting is going on everywhere while the dead and the dying lay around the walkways and near the buildings. The columns that were seen in the third stage by the bay have been broken and so have some of the houses.

The sea is not calm and the clouds appear smoky and thick. The main purpose of this canvas is to indicate that human empires do not last, and at some point they may face destruction. The final part of this painting is “Desolation.” Unlike all the other paintings, this one takes place at night. The night is calm with the glistening moon reflecting in the bay and a few clouds strung out in the night sky. No humans are present in this setting, but by viewing the painting one can see evidence of human existence. Broken pillars and ruined structures line the coast while they are being overgrown by mosses and plants. The area is quite wild due to the awkward growing of plants everything.

The mountain still stands in its place, but alone without any human presence. The sea shines with peacefulness. On the far side two deer can been perceived drinking water. The point of this portrait is to let the viewer know that nature has reclaimed the land. The deer have returned and so have the plants and trees, but the people have not. The marks of the human beings have become part of the natural world.

Cole had many views about nature, human life and mortality. He felt that the nation had a wild beauty. Cole said in one of his articles, “To walk with nature as a poet is the necessary condition of a perfect artist.” He illustrated the American landscape with a new vision, but at the same time he did not forget to paint pictures that portray allegorical and religious subjects. He believed that as men live and die so do plants and animals. Cole used eroded mountains and dried up rivers to symbolize the cycles of nature as being compared with humans.

What he meant by this was that man dies as he ages and nature also looses its agility. Sometimes Coles art works represent that as the early settlement of America is passing by, a new one is taking its place. This America that he portrays is competitive, abundant with resources, and there is also a society ranked by class. Cole enjoyed painting nature and he used nature in comparison to life. Another one of Coles finest achievements would be “The Oxbow.” Completed in 1836, the sketches for this painting were completed at a real place, the Connecticut River Valley.

On the left is the wilderness of the mountain. Dead trees and living trees symbolize the cycle of nature. From a distance one can see the peaceful bend in the river, a golden light coming from the left, a storm spotted from far, and some trees blasted out on the near side. This picture is painted as if the audience is taken into the moment. In the center of the painting, the artist is sitting and painting the scene with his painting kit.

The artist cannot be seen at a first glimpse because he is extremely tiny in the picture. He gives the audience a look at the future possibilities if they looked into the distance. The fading storm shows that the wild will eventually be replaced by the civilized. This scenery is beautifully shown with its bright colors and amazing developed features. Thomas Cole did an excellent job in portraying realism in his paintings.

He helped America vision a society with possibilities, opportunities, and abundance of resources. Not only did Cole inspire the nation; he also influenced many artists who are now heading Coles way. Cole was a brilliant man of great intelligence who stole the hearts of many. In an article written by William Church Bryant, he says, “We might dream in his funeral oration on Cole, that the conscious valleys miss his accustomed visits and that autumnal glories of the woods are paler because of his departure.” Bibliography Harvey, Eleanor Jones. The Painted Sketch: American Impressions From Nature 1830-1880. Dallas: Harry N.

Abrams, Inc., 1998. Lucie-Smith, Edward. American Realism. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1994. Stokstad, Marilyn. Art History.

Rev. ed. Vol. 2. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1995.

973-974. Yaeger, Bert D. The Hudson River School: American Landscape Artists. New York: Smithmark Publishers, 1996.


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