The Oxbow

928 words 4 pages
The Oxbow, Thomas Cole
ART 101
Thomas Cole uses an implied line to separate the dark, untouched forest and dark sky with the tranquil, cultivated farmland below. Cole uses an actual line to outline the banks of the Connecticut River bending through the pastoral land. Actual lines are also used to define the edge of the horizon in the distance. He also used actual lines to portray the rows of manicured farmland. The first geometric shape I could make out is the triangle of the tiny easel in the middle ground. Other geometric shapes include the outlines of the pastures and fields. You see very angular boundaries and rows of plowed fields. There are plenty of organic shapes as well. Most notably of course is the shape of the
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I think the size and romantic shape of the river’s bend is what draws you into the scene. Even though the dark forest is not neutral like the hills are, I still believe the foreground is subordinate to the river. He accomplishes this through use of directional force. The diagonal of the tree to the left directs the view of the scene down the valley toward the river below.
Cole’s use of contrast is one of the most important elements of this painting. As discussed above, he uses variations in the color of the two landscapes, the two skies, and the scale of the cliffs in the foreground versus the hills in the background.
I was unable to decipher any repetitious elements in The Oxbow except for possibly the repetitive trees and logging scares in the farmland. I do think, however, that the rhythmic shape of the river’s bend is found a couple times in this piece. Once with the bird formation and another with the logging scares in the hills to the right.
I read that Cole used a much larger canvas than normal because he wanted to make an impact with this piece. This would give us an idea of the scale of the overall painting. Within the painting itself however, Cole attempts to emphasize the scale of this scene by placing a small self-portrait of himself on the edge of the cliff. This illustrates the grand scale of this view from Mount Holyoke. All visual elements seem to be in proportion.

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