Thomas Cole was an American artist known for his landscape and history paintings. He is regarded as the founder of the Hudson River School, an American art movement that flourished in the mid-19th century. Cole’s work is known for its romantic portrayal of the American wilderness.
The Course of Empire is a five-part series of paintings created by Thomas Cole in the years 1833–36. It is notable in part for reflecting popular American sentiments of the times, when many saw pastoralism as the ideal phase of human civilization, fearing that empire would lead to gluttony and inevitable decay.