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The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge

1829 Thomas Cole Born: Bolton-le-Moor, England 1801 Died: Catskill, New York 1848 oil on canvas 35 3/4 x 47 3/4 in. (90.8 x 121.4 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Mrs. Katie Dean in memory of Minnibel S. and James Wallace Dean and museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program 1983.40 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, South Wing


Gallery Label

Thomas Cole envisioned America as a new start for civilization.  In his mind, the American Revolution was like the biblical story of the Great Flood, sweeping away the despotism of the British Crown.  In this painting the waters from that Flood subside, suggesting a peaceful future for the young republic.  A lone skull resting against the rocks suggests that the world has been washed clean of human folly. At the center of the painting, bathed in light, a dove flies toward land as the ark floats on the calm waters, ready to usher in a new and more enlightened era in America.

Keywords

Architecture - boat - Noah's Ark

Disaster - flood

Figure - fragment - skull

Landscape - mountain

Religion - Old Testament - Noah

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Thomas Cole

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

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Thomas Cole