Landscape with Figures: A Scene from « The Last of the Mohicans”

Catskill, New York, USA
Oil on panel
66.4 x 109.4 cm
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection
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Set in the awe-inspiring landscape of the Catskill Mountains, this painting draws on The Last of the Mohicans, an 1826 novel by James Fenimore Cooper set 70 years earlier, during the Seven Years War between Britain and France. In this dramatic scene, Thomas Cole depicts the climax of the story: the main character, Natty Bumpo, aims his rifle at an Iroquois, Magua, who clings to the rocks on the right. Magua has just killed Cora, the daughter of a British colonel, and Uncas, the son of a virtuous Mohican chief. Cole’s painting suggests that the rugged landscape is a mediator between human actions.