Amon Carter print details

The Hunter's Return

Thomas Cole (1801-1848)

Object Details

  • Date


  • Object Type


  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    40 1/8 x 60 1/2 in.

  • Inscriptions


    signed and dated, l.c.: T.Cole \ 1845

  • Credit Line

    Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

  • Accession Number


  • Copyright

    Public domain

Object Description

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.

Additional details

Location: On view
See more by Thomas Cole


Educator Resources
  • What is a landscape painting?

    Why is the grandeur of the American landscape such a compelling subject?

    Why are land and the landscape so important to the national identity of the United States?

    How might a work of art reflect or relate to important moments in history?

    Why are certain groups left out of the national imagination?

  • Grades Pre-K–1

    Students will create a layered landscape exploring shape and texture. First, students will draw their own landscape using geometric shapes. Then, they will make rubbings of different texture plates in varying sections of their landscapes (one plate for the ground, another for the sky). If they would like, students can then draw in other landscape elements such as trees, mountains, or grass.

    Grades 2–6

    Read N. Scott Momaday’s “The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee.”

    Both Cole and Momaday show great reverence for nature by highlighting the beautiful details of its components. Students will write a poem about this painting in the style of Momaday’s poem. Students should find three items in the painting and write one line describing each, starting with “I am.” After writing these, students should consider what mood these descriptions convey. Now, they will write a sentence using the same format as Momaday’s concluding line, “You see, I am ____, I am ____.” Example: “I am the brown cap waving above. I am the delicate apron that covers a mother. I am the warm, furry dog enjoying a hug. You see, I am soft, I am soft.”

    Grades 9–12

    As a class, investigate the primary resource, “Essay on American Scenery” (1836) by Thomas Cole. Together discuss and summarize Cole’s five essential elements of a landscape. Ask students to discover and name the natural resources in this landscape. Cole used them to symbolize what he thought was unique about the young American nation. Ask students to think about a place they would choose to represent in a work of art. Students will write the five elements that would be essential to include in an image of their place and why they chose them. Ask students to sketch the place they chose, including the five elements.

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