Thomas Cole, 1801–1848, The Consummation of Empire, about 1833–1836
The Course of Empire is a series of paintings depicting the rise and fall of an imaginary city, representing humanity as a whole. The Consummation of Empire, the third in the series, depicts a summer’s day, where people are seen enjoying themselves, drinking and blowing horns to ships passing by. Cole represented complete decadence, reminiscent of ancient Rome, and, as ever in religious themes, decadence often means the worst is to come. This later stage is represented in our other lining from the series; Destruction. Light pastel colours are used which contrast with the bright red and orange hues used to represent the people and the ships.
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