The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge

The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge is an 1829 painting by English-born American artist Thomas Cole depicting the aftermath of the Great Flood.

The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge
Barren coastal landscape shortly after the Biblical Food as seen through the mouth of a cave on land. Noah's Ark is visible floating in the distance.
ArtistThomas Cole
Year1829
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions90.8 cm × 121.4 cm (​35 34 in × ​47 34 in)
LocationSmithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Accession1983.40

The painting is a 90.8 x 121.4 cm oil on canvas. It is on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C..

BackgroundEdit

Cole collected extensive notes on geology and consulted geologists and other scientists such as Benjamin Silliman to gather background information on what the world might have looked like after the Biblical Flood.[1]

DescriptionEdit

The painting shows a barren rocky coastscape as seen from the viewpoint of a cavern. A waterfall created by the receding waters of the Flood flows towards the sea. Debris such as broken trees, a destroyed mast, and even a skull are seen upon the coast. The land has been stripped of soil. The sky outside the cavern is bright and in the distance floats an Ark and a dove flies.[2]

InterpretationEdit

The painting is interpreted as representing rebirth and redemption through destruction.[3] The cleansing nature of the Flood is meant to represent America as a "New Eden" free of the abusive power of the European monarchies.[4]

HistoryEdit

In 1829 and 1831 the painting was on exhibit at the National Academy of Design. It was subsequently lost until 1974.[5]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Perry, Claire. The Great American Hall of Wonders: Art, Science, and Invention in the Nineteenth Century. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian American Art Museum. ISBN 978-1-904-832-97-3.
  2. ^ Pastan, Amy (1999). Young America: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (1. publ., 1. print. ed.). New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. pp. 26. ISBN 0-8230-0193-8.
  3. ^ Miller, Angela (1993). The Empire of the Eye: Landscape Representation and American Cultural Politics, 1825-1875 (1. publ. ed.). Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. p. 53. ISBN 0-8014-2830-0.
  4. ^ Pastan, Amy (1999). Young America: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (1. publ., 1. print. ed.). New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. pp. 26. ISBN 0-8230-0193-8. For Thomas Cole, this story of the Biblical flood was a veiled reference to his adopted country, the United States. Washed clean of the corruptions of European monarchy, the new democracy awakens to a promising future.
  5. ^ Miller, Angela (1993). The Empire of the Eye: Landscape Representation and American Cultural Politics, 1825-1875 (1. publ. ed.). Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. p. 54. ISBN 0-8014-2830-0. Subsiding of the Waters, exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1829 and again in 1831, was lost throughout most of this century, not coming to light until 1974.

External linksEdit