Destruction By Thomas Cole Summary

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The 18th century witnessed not only the advancement of the industrial revolution but also the rise of European Romanticism and the influence of Romantic ideas in the arts. European romanticists greatly loved nature and disdained technology, they glorified the rural way of living and believed poetry to be superior to the sciences. Out of the many famous artists at that time is Thomas Cole. Born in 1818 in Bolton, he is an English artist, who moved from Lancashire and settled in New York 1832. He is known for his famous American inspired landscape paintings and is considered the founder of the Hudson River School. He died on February 11th, 1848 in Europe.

In 1835-1840 Cole painted a series known as “The Course of Empire” which showed
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Through this, Cole develops and explores his concerns with industrialization and how it is changing America’s natural habitat. In the fourth installment, Destruction (1836), Cole criticizes how man is “insensible to the beauty of nature” and cannot carry out their work “without destroying it.” Through an analysis of Cole’s painting, namely, by focusing on key elements such as the lighting, colors used and the placement of objects such as the Borghese Gladiator, the woman in white, the sinking ship and the broken bridge, I will focus on how Cole invokes the feeling of sublime and emphasizes that in spite of economic prosperity, growth and visible power, empire will inevitably fall into the cycle of destruction and bloodshed.

The painting Destruction shows a fictional city, located on the banks of a river valley being attacked around late afternoon. A city once known for its beauty and luxury is now crumbling. It is a scene of war, destruction and
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The Borghese Gladiator is an illustration of a fighting warrior and a symbol of bravery. However, in this painting, he is a headless warrior with a broken shield in hand, ready but unable to fight. His readiness to fight but his helplessness symbolizes the end of the empire and helplessness of the people, who are trying to escape but have nowhere to go. Similarly, the woman’s white attire is a sign of peace and purity, but in the painting, she is in the midst of war and soon will be a victim of

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