The Fountain, No. 1: The Wounded Indian Slaking His Death Thirst

Artist: Thomas Cole (American, Lancashire 1801–1848 Catskill, New York)

Date: 1843

Medium: Graphite and white gouache on green wove paper

Dimensions: 7 x 9 3/4 in. (17.8 x 24.8 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Gift of Erving Wolf Foundation, in memory of Diane R. Wolf, 1977

Accession Number: 1977.182.7


Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School of landscape painters, made this drawing to rehearse ideas for a series of paintings—never executed—based on William Cullen Bryant's epic poem "The Fountain" (1839). The poem narrates the rise of American civilization within a single natural setting, beginning with this scene. The pose of the wounded brave, undoubtedly modeled on the famed Hellenistic sculpture known as the Dying Gaul (Museo Capitolino, Rome), is echoed in the principal motif of the cave out of which issues of the fountain of the title. Cole's taste for the sublime forms of contorted trees and leaning boulders was abetted by his broad, spirited draftsmanship, which also informed his paintings.