THE EARLY BIBLICAL LANDSCAPES OF THOMAS COLE (1825--1829)
MENEFEE, ELLEN AVITTS
Master of Arts thesis
Between 1825 and 1848 Thomas Cole produced many imaginary views based on literary, allegorical and religious themes. Historical landscapes of traditional religious subjects represent a small but significant element in the artist's oeuvre. Cole's early Biblical landscapes (those painted before the artist traveled to Europe) are significant indicators of the transitional character of Cole's work as he attempted to Americanize traditional European precepts of art. In them, Cole reveals an alliance with European art theory, adapted to produce didactic landscape paintings intended as a testimony to the power and majesty of God with man's relationship to God as the central focus. Cole combined American scenery with historical subjects which would be familiar to all--those extracted from the Bible. Subject matter is an essential clue in understanding the artist's intent. His work was a response to the zeitgeist of nineteenth century America.