View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts (The Oxbow)

Painter: Thomas Cole

Year: 1836

Movement is the key to understanding this painting. As seen from Mount Holyoke, the Oxbow was formed when the Connecticut River pushed past its banks to create a curved shape. If the painting is read from right to left, its mood is ominous; there is nothing but storms ahead. Read from right to left, optimism reigns; the storm has passed and left sunshine in its wake.