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In August and September 1844, Thomas Cole embarked on a trip that would lead to his arrival in Mount Desert Island, Maine. When Cole arrived in Mount Desert Island, he was in awe of the natural landscape's beauty. While there, Cole sketched the cliffs that he would use as the basis for this painting when he arrived at his home in Catskill, NY. Cole's view of the natural world is shown through the way the cliffs are depicted. The cliffs are shown to be powerful, and like many of Cole's paintings, he shows human life within the natural scene. The painting depicts a boat that looks like it is fighting against the water and is overshadowed by the sea and the cliffs. There is a person on top of the cliff looking over the edge. Cole paints the person to look almost insignificant in comparison to the rest of the scene. Both elements within the painting depict the frailty of human life in comparison to nature. In the painting, Cole transforms the scene into a vision representing the power he believed nature held. Cole described the scene as a "tremendous overhanging precipice rising from the ocean with the surf dashing against it frightfully. The whole coast here is ironbound, threatening cries, and dark caverns which the sea thunders.” Cole effectively depicts this feeling in the painting through the moody atmosphere he created. Cole portrayed his view of nature as powerful, violent, and beautiful.