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The Consummation of Empire

The Consummation of Empire is the third in a series of five oil-on-canvas paintings entitled The Course of Empire, created by the American artist Thomas Cole between 1833 and 1836. The series, now in the collection of the New-York Historical Society, depicts the growth and fall of an imaginary city, situated at the lower end of a river valley. In this painting, the rural village has become a magnificent city, with colonnaded structures reminiscent of ancient Rome. A victorious hero is crossing a bridge in procession and about to pass under a triumphal arch. The architecture and embellishments illustrates that wealth, power, knowledge, and taste have worked together to reach the summit of human achievement and empire.

Painting credit: Thomas Cole

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