Semester Vol. 10, No. 1
landscape painting shows a fall afternoon in a time that celebrated westward
expansion. Mountains, a lake, and trees with colorful leaves represent
an "American Garden of Eden." In this place, a pioneer family
appears to be successfully living off the abundance of the land. The mountain
in the background is a real place in the state of New Hampshire.
We see the
scene from a distance as hunters return home to a waiting family. The
neat cabin in a clearing and the large vegetable garden suggest that all
is well with the family. They have food, water, and shelter in a beautiful
is not perfect in this world. If we look more closely, we can see that
the artist has provided some warnings about "taming the wilderness."
Why do you think the artist included tree stumps and fallen logs? Could
they be symbols of humanity's careless destruction of nature? Maybe they
serve as a warning that people must maintain a careful balance with nature.
was born in England, but came to the United States when he was seventeen
years old. As an adult, he lived in New York state and was inspired by
the beauty of nature around him in the Hudson River Valley.
around New York and New England to find subjects for his paintings. He
made sketches directly from nature, then completed his paintings in the
studio. He wanted landscape painting to become "a higher style of
answers on another piece of paper)
1. Why do
you think The Hunter's Return is sometimes called an "American
Garden of Eden"?
idea do you think is the most important in this painting? Explain your
about the natural beauty of America, the artist Thomas Cole said:
know, full well, that forests must be felled for fuel and tillage, and
that roads and canals must be constructed, but I contend that BEAUTY should
be of some value among us; that where it is not NECESSARY to destroy a
tree or a grove, the hand of the woodman should be checked..."
Do you agree
with the artist's statement? Why or why not?
became a state in 1845, the year in which The Hunter's Return was
painted. What was happening in Texas at this time? What did people think
about westward expansion in Texas?
of a real place in nature that you would like to see in a landscape painting.
Write a detailed description of it or use it as the subject for an artwork.