Thomas Cole’s The Departure is a painting from 1837 that is part of the artist’s attempt to create a “higher style of landscape.” The painting depicts a group of knights embarking on a crusade in early summer, with their lord leading the way. Cole uses two canvases to build his narrative, resulting in a technical and emotional masterpiece.
The painting portrays a virginal landscape that has been untouched by man. Cole’s intention was to imbue the landscape with a higher purpose, creating a grand cycle of paintings that would showcase American landscape painting as an art form. The painter is considered the founding father of the Hudson River School of American artists.
The Departure is a classic example of American landscape painting and is laden with multiple possible interpretations. Many critics view it as a metaphor for human life and the journey of the soul. Thomas Cole’s talent for not only creating a stunning painting but also using art to evoke emotions and ideas is evident in this masterpiece. With this painting, Cole demonstrates his skill in creating a masterpiece that is both technically innovative and emotionally stirring.