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Eden to Empire : Thomas Cole at London’s National Gallery

For the very first time, 58 masterpieces of the American landscape painter Thomas Cole will be on display until 7 October 2018 at London’s National Gallery.

Thomas Cole was born in Bolton le Moors, England and is known for his spectacular, large-scale paintings. Cole became the leading American landscape painter of his generation by depicting nature’s strength in the early 19th century. At the National Gallery, his major works, which have never before been on display in the United Kingdom, allow visitors to journey through Antiquity and view its untamed landscapes.

Thomas Cole at the National Gallery

The « Eden to Empire » exhibition, which is on display in the prestigious London gallery alongside the works of William Turner and John Constable, creates a dialogue between artists from the New World and the Old Continent. For the first time ever, its theme explores the influence of European art by depicting the meteoric rise and brutal fall of a fictional past civilisation.

Thomas Cole The Arcadian or Pastoral State
In The Arcadian or Pastoral State, the artist idealises the shift from a savage state to the birth of a civilisation. © DR
Thomas Cole Morning after a Stormy Night
Look closely to spot the artist’s easel on the right side of his painting, The Oxbow. © DR

Fifty-eight works depicting a mythical version of America

Through 58 paintings borrowed from discrete collectors, visitors can bask in the beauty of the Cole’s adopted country, which was still partially untamed at the time, through the eyes of someone who had travelled from Rome to Trivoli. This arty fusion recalls a trip along the banks of the Thames.

Thomas Cole The Consummation of Empire
In an ode to Roman architecture, The Consummation of Empire depicts an opulent and prosperous empire beneath a sunny sky. © DR
Thomas Cole Destruction
Torn apart by war and invading armies, the fabled city is replaced by a scene of devastation in Destruction. © DR

The art of landscape painting : a balance between Romanticism and Naturalism