Wild romanticized landscape with a lake in the middle distance, overhung by mountain precipice. In the far distance, a range of blue mountains. In the right foreground, under a stormy sky, is a small log cabin surrounded by trees, and before it a man sits, rifle in hand, and a dog by his side. A dead deer lies behind him. This group is balanced in the right foreground by a dark overhanging precipice and a tall tree.
Cole’s Romantic painting portrays the popular frontiersman Daniel Boone (American, 1734–1820), imagined outside a rustic home within an invented landscape (likely inspired by Cole’s sketching trips in New York). The painting embodies the English-born artist’s conservationist beliefs and conflicting support of development through the picturing of wilderness as a key national resource. Cole represents Boone as an elderly pioneer, already mythologized for exploits that were buoyed by a belief in the divine right of White Americans to expand their control over the land and deny the histories and presence of Native Americans already living there.
Cole created his earliest landscape paintings soon after he moved to New York in 1825, a time when cultural producers and industrialists in the region sought to define American identity and a national art.
Lisa Crossman, 2020
landscapes; men; dogs; animals; architecture; storms; trees; mountains; water; weapons; hunting; deer
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