Thomas Cole (1801–1848)
Olje på lerret, 100,3 x 161,2 cm, New York Historical Society.

Kunstneren har gitt denne beskrivlsen av det femte og siste bldet, Desolation, i syklusen The Course of Empire:

The fifth picture is the scene of Desolation. The sun has just set, the moon ascends the twilight sky over the ocean, near the place where the sun rose in the first picture. Day-light fades away, and the shades of evening steal over the shattered and ivy-grown ruins of that once proud city. A lonely column stands near the fore ground, on whose capitol, which is illumined by the last rays of the departed sun, a heron has built her nest. The doric temple and the triumphal bridge, may still be recognised among the ruins. But, though man and his works have perished, the steep promontory, with its insulated rock, still rears against the sky unmoved, unchanged. Violence and time have crumbled the works of man, and art is again resolving into elemental nature.


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