The Pilgrim of the World at the End of His Journey

  • Thomas Cole, The Pilgrim of the World at the End of His Journey, ca. 1847, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1988.1

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.

The Pilgrim of the World at the End of His Journey
ca. 1847
12 x 18 in. (30.5 x 45.7 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Landscape – canyon
  • Allegory – life – old age
  • Architecture Exterior – ruins
  • Architecture Exterior – religious – temple
  • Figure – fragment – skull
Object Number
Linked Open Data
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