Depictions of American scenery always served as a backdrop for Thomas Cole’s storytelling. In this paradise-like, sun-filled valley, a family seems to live in harmony with nature. The painting features a scene of good fortune—a father and son being welcomed home from a successful hunt. The charming narrative is only one part of the work’s meaning, however. Cole’s painting imparts a moral lesson: settlement and the march of civilization come at a steep price—the defiling of untouched nature, here represented by the abundance of fallen trees in the foreground.


  • Title: The Hunter's Return
  • Creator: Thomas Cole
  • Creator Lifespan: 1801/1848
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: male
  • Creator Death Place: Catskill, New York
  • Creator Birth Place: Bolton-le-Moor, England
  • Date Created: 1845
  • Physical Dimensions: w153.7 x h101.9 cm
  • Type: paintings
  • Rights: Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
  • External Link: Amon Carter Museum of American Art
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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