Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/M. and N. Karolik Collection

“The Expulsion from Eden” is depicted as a disaster of cosmic proportions by Thomas Cole. The figures of Adam and Eve, who slink away from a radiant and fertile Eden, are dwarfed by the storm-wracked mountains and gorges of their new world. Cole dramatically contrasts the golden light-filled, serene Garden of Eden with the rocky, shadowed zones.

Thomas Cole (1801–1848) established a studio in the Catskills in 1826 and became the recognized leader of the American Romantic landscape painters known as the Hudson River School. “The Expulsion” dates from his early career, when he painted dramatic views of primordial landscapes. Religious subjects appear increasingly in his later work, as well as narrative subjects that point a moral.