The Hunter's Return
- Oil on canvas
- 40 1/8 X 60 1/2
- Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
Depictions of American scenery served as a backdrop for Cole’s storytelling. In this paradise-like, sun-filled valley, a multigenerational family have cultivated the land and seemingly live in harmony with nature. The painting features good fortune—a father and son returning from a successful hunt. The charming narrative is only one part of the tale, however.
In his 1836 “Essay on American Scenery,” Cole lamented the “ravages of the axe” that were destroying the wilderness. He worried “that with the improvements of cultivation the sublimity of the wilderness should pass away.” The fallen trees in the foreground likely signal Cole’s concerns, though many of his patrons were responsible for industrialization, and Cole was eager to please them with his work.