Thomas Cole (1801-1848)
The Garden of Eden, 1828
Oil on canvas
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
The visionary landscape painter Thomas Cole was most responsible for establishing a distinctive American art in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Through his painting and writing, he inspired a fascination with the landscape, elevating it to the honored level of history painting. By 1827 Cole was formulating an idea that expressed the full extent of his true artistic ambition: to paint landscapes of high and holy meaning. This so engaged Cole’s fertile imagination that his depiction of Eden was brought forth in lavish detail and on a grand scale.