Paper - Formal Analysis


Running Head: THE OXBOW 1


Formal Analysis - The Oxbow

The oxbow

Figure 1 Thomas Cole, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow, 1836


Back in 1886, a renowned artist Thomas Cole came up with an outstanding artwork known as The Oxbow, view from Mountain Holyoke, Massachusetts after Thunderstorm. The artist was regarded as the Hudson River school’s leader. During the development of this painting, there was a movement in the United States known as the manifest destiny and it is believed to be cause of people migrating from east towards west. Therefore, Thomas depicted the migration upping microcosmically via his artwork. The oxbow effectively captured the symbolism via composition, lighting, color, and line techniques and it indicated that Thomas was against the movement.

Visual element

The artwork painting is one of the special landscape pointing a river known as Connecticut and it portrays a natural style. The artist utilized oil on canvas to come up with a masterpiece of 4’3.5 by 6’4’’ which hangs in the metropolitan museum. The massive stature painting has led to more apparent to the in-person spectator to sense the presence of Cole in a top hat, resting while painting amongst the wilderness. Cole did this with the motive of proving his involvement in nature’s spiritual competence as well as harmony with it. The style and competence of expounding the naturalistic painting with enormous contrast in lighting and hues generate two divergent sides just like Thomas planning (Faison, 2015).

Additionally, the composition in Thomas artwork is very strong when compared most of the other landscape panoramas. The artist storm creations create an automatic divide when it comes to painting. One sidelight and clear while the rest is ominous and dark. The separation is endorsed through a diagonal line generated by the Connecticut River as well as foregrounded forest and hence justifying nature importance (Tharaud, 2014). His art also portrays very interesting concepts since the human settlement and their farms are evident although their scale compared to the rest of the environment is enormous.

When it comes to the color and lighting choices, the art reinforces the boundary between the wilderness and human civilization and hence making Thomas doubt in the movement manifested by Destiny. When it comes to color, the artist colors the river valley with light green as light brown to indicate the cultivation and vibrancy of the cleared fields. Cole also uses dark green to color the forest and removes colors in the shattered tree trunks.

Furthermore, in the same composition, there are lines which indicate the intentional divide of both habited and inhabited region. The river also symbolically indicate the intensity of human beings touching as well as fertilizing the land and the region that is yet to be damaged. One can easily note that the forest in which the artist has closely placed himself is a perfect diagonal line which concurs with a linearity of the passing storm (Ellison, 2014). The shape loop of the river on the other hand geometrically resembles the storm progressiveness. When there is a transformation of clouds from white fluty and the storms are threatening. The background content of the scenario is revealed through the diagonal cut in the center of the painting which becomes paramount as well as symbolic to the theme.


The artist is very competent as far visual elements are considered as he uses them to illustrate the appoint across. Cole manages to transform the landscape nearer to everyone who looks at the painting. The artist has managed to evoke emotions through his skills in visual elements. Thomas Cole composed the art diagonally and utilized the river flow to produce the program for the audience’s eye to give attention. The composition of in terms of the mixture, as well as contrast, capture the moment and indeed the artist is competent in painting and this art becomes one of the prominent artwork across the globe.

While this is a very good paper, the requirements of the assignment were to address each of 15 terms in list format, or in the order they were listed. It appears that you did not address each term but submitted more of a general observation/research paper. The assignment was not a research paper. I would like to offer you the opportunity to resubmit the paper. Please review the rubric and re-work this paper with each term highlighted or bold, and discussed in the order they are listed in the rubric. Be sure all 15 terms are included. This will also ensure you a better grade.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you


50/100 for now


Ellison, A. (2014). Preserving the picturesque: Perceptions of landscape, landscape art, and land protection in the United States and China. Land3(1), 260-281.

Faison, E. K. (2015). Seeing the Landscape in Landscape Art. Arnoldia73(2), 2-18.

Tharaud, J. (2014). Evangelical Space: The Oxbow, Religious Print, and the Moral Landscape in America. American Art28(3), 52-75.