Thomas Cole – The Course of Empire (Destruction). 1836. Oil on canvas.

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Thomas Cole’s career was built upon the success of his landscape series paintings, often depicting on multiple panels a single geographic area over great lengths of time. Another well known series of his is The Voyage of Life, a group of 4 paintings depicting a man’s life from birth to death; interestingly, that particular series was so popular in his day that he produced multiple versions with slightly varying compositions, making it somewhat difficult for the modern viewer to know if they’re looking at all 4 of a single series or if they’ve been mistakenly mixed and matched.

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