Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire

National Gallery

11 June – 7 October 2018

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An exhibition exploring for the first time the influence of European art on one of the leading American landscape painters of the 19th century, British-born Thomas Cole.

Thomas Cole, View on the Catskill - Early Autumn, 1836-37

Cole’s masterpiece in American landscape painting, The Oxbow – never before seen in the UK – is framed here as the product of his concerted engagement with European art. Also on show for the first time is Cole’s monumental series, The Course of Empire, which depicts the rise and fall of an imaginary historical civilisation.

Showcasing Cole’s paintings alongside work by his contemporaries – including Turner and Constable – this exhibition not only provides new context for a major global artist, but also uncovers the dialogue between American and European artists in the mid-19th century.

On display at the same time is Ed Ruscha’s 2005 installation, Course of Empire, evoking Cole’s earlier series but focusing on the industrial buildings of Los Angeles – simple, utilitarian structures which, while being redolent of economic might and global reach, have no pretension to beauty.

Venue information

Opening times

Daily, 10am – 6pm (Fri, 10am – 9pm)

Closed 24 – 26 Dec and 1 Jan

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