Thomas Cole. Oil on canvas, 1836, 39 ½ x 63 ½ in. Collection of The New-York Historical Society, 1858.4.
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1. The mountain becomes more visible again, asserting the return of nature.
2. Nature echoes the chaos of the empire's destruction in the form of storm clouds, wind, and fire.
3. The porch of the Doric temple becomes the base for a catapult, indicating that the violence of civilization has corrupted art and religion.
4. The bridge that once supported the decadent ruler collapses under the weight of the armies.
5. The ships that once promoted trade and exploration now burn and sink in the throes of war.
6. The sculpture of an armed warrior is modeled after another work in the Louvre: the Borghese Gladiator.
7. A mother mourns the loss of her son. Theodore Géricault's painting Raft of the Medusa (1819) may have inspired this detail.
8. A woman fleeing from a soldier throws herself into the harbor, indicating the collapse of civilization into sexual violence.
9. The painter's signature on the pedestal suggests Cole's alliance with the arts.
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