Destruction, oil on canvas, is the sack and destruction of an imaginary city and one of five in a series in The Course of Empire by Thomas Cole, 1801-1848, British-born American painter of the Hudson River School.
Cole lived in Steubenville, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, having emigrated to America in 1818. Destruction is the fourth painting in the series which ends with Desolation.
The enemy fleet enters the city. The palace is on fire, the women raped and the heroic statue headless.
The series of paintings was acquired by the New York Historical Society in 1858 as a gift from the New York Gallery of Fine Arts. They are on display at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, until Aug. 13, 2012.
The direct source of literary inspiration for the works was British poet Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.
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