Preparing for a class on Christian doctrine, I’ve been perusing the great artists, to see what they have to say about the Christian faith. Painters, for better or worse, do theology and even biblical interpretation when they set brush to canvas. One painting in the “better” category I keep coming back to is “The Garden of Eden” (1828), by Thomas Cole.
The painting’s a helpful theological corrective for many of us, focusing our eyes not on the first sin, but on the gift of creation itself. Cole lets us breathe some of Eden’s air without rushing to the temptation and fall. As befits a painter, Cole accomplishes this visually. Typical of a Hudson River School artist, his landscape is enormous, and may not even feature the tree of the knowledge of good and evil at all. When visually represented, the garden story often hinges around the prohibition, and paintings of Adam […]