This painting demonstrates Cox's ideas about the importance in art of tradition and the classical spirit. Two figures in Grecian costumes, representing the arts of the past, pass on the eternal flame of tradition to two figures in Renaissance dress. Literature wears the laurel crown, and Painting holds the palette. Born in Warren, Ohio, Cox studied art in Cincinnati and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In 1877, he moved to Paris to study under Carolus Duran (1838-1917) and Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904). Five years later, Cox returned to New York where he established himself as a leader in the academic and conservative movement known as the American Renaissance. The artist achieved particular fame as a muralist; however by 1916, his health deteriorating, he turned his attention to paintings on canvas.