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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Dwight Primiano.

The Good Shepherd

Artist: Thomas Cole (1801 - 1848)
Date: 1848
32 × 48 in. (81.3 × 121.9 cm)
Framed: 44 3/4 × 60 7/8 × 5 1/2 in.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2007.10
Signed: l.l.: T. Cole / 1848
On View
Accession Number: 2007.10
ProvenanceIsabella Williamson Lee (b. 1800), New York, NY, 1848; by descent until 1983; to (Sotheby's, New York, NY), December 12, 1983; purchased by Gloria and Richard Manney, New York, NY; to (Sotheby's, New York, NY), May 27, 1993; purchased by Private Collection, New Fairfield, CT; Private Collection; (Michael Altman Fine Art & Advisory Services, New York, NY), 2007; purchased by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2007
Label TextThomas Cole, a founder of American landscape painting, was increasingly religious in his later years, imbuing his paintings with Christian iconography and expressing spiritual themes. The Good Shepherd is Cole’s visual expression of the Biblical verse from Psalms 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.” A young shepherd leads a stray sheep “beside still waters” toward the flock bathed in warm sunlight. The lushness of the landscape conveys the idea that the Good Shepherd—the Lord—will provide for and protect his people.