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The Course of Empire is a collection of the writings of Thomas Cole (1801–1848), leader of the Hudson River School of painters, presented as a biography with narrative and commentary by his pastor and intimate friend, Louis Legrand Noble. Cole’s poetry, essays, and descriptions are as vividly pictorial as his paintings, offering an illuminating insight into the ideas and feelings of this significant figure in the history of American art. Elliot Vesell introduces the book with a sketch of Cole’s life, an interpretation of his work, and a discussion of the Hudson River School of artists.