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The Pilgrim of the World at the End of His Journey

ca. 1847 Thomas Cole Born: Bolton-le-Moor, England 1801 Died: Catskill, New York 1848 oil on canvas 12 x 18 in. (30.5 x 45.7 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase 1988.1 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 7B


Luce Center Label

Thomas Cole died before he was able to complete his final group of paintings, titled The Cross and the World. In the beginning of the series, two young men each begin a pilgrimage---one to the cross and the other through the world. The route to the cross is mountainous and difficult, while the pathway through the world tempts with a beautiful valley. By the end of their journeys, the pilgrim of the cross discovers the bright light and angels of redemption, but the pilgrim of the world finds only a wasteland of emptiness and fear. Cole used very little color in these paintings to emphasize the vivid contrast between the glorious light of God and the dark confusion of a world without faith.

Keywords

Allegory - life - old age

Architecture Exterior - religious - temple

Architecture Exterior - ruins

Figure(s) in exterior - rural

Figure - fragment - skull

Landscape - canyon

Landscape - time - night

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Thomas Cole

Born: Bolton-le-Moor, England 1801 Died: Catskill, New York 1848

More works in the collection by
Thomas Cole