Beauty and the Sublime

Topics: Hudson River School, Landscape art, Sanford Robinson Gifford Pages: 7 (2771 words) Published: April 14, 2008
“Whatever is filled in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; beauty is a name I shall apply to all such qualities in things as induce in us a sense of affection and tenderness, or some other passion the most resembling these.” (Burke) Edmund Burke sees painting as two very different realms of emotions. On one side, there are beauties, which are the emotions that might cause feelings of calmness, gentleness, joyfulness, brightness. Where sublime emotions are darker and opposite of beauty, like, gloomy, tragic, strong and powerful. Beauty is an enthusiastic expression of pleasure or agreement. When looking at the beauty of art those senses is normally what draws a viewer to gaze at the painting. In Edmund Burke’s The Sublime and Beautiful, he defines beauty “as any quality which inspires the individual to feel affection that which is perceived as beautiful.” (Scott) A main part of painting is emotions, the emotions of the painter either while painting or if it is the emotional reaction of the viewer. Beauty is something that is delicate and sparks a sense of lust through the body. Edmund defined beauty as such because of the way he looked at paintings and the way his body reacted to the paintings. On the other hand, Burke describes the sublime, “as being the cause of the strongest emotions which the individual is capable of feeling.”(Scott). He mentions numerous times that sublimity is derived from pain and the emotions associated with it. “While the beauty of a work of art may inspire love or admiration, the sublimity of a work of art may inspire sense of astonishment or the shocking feeling. Burke was the first to explain beauty and sublimity purely in terms of process of perception and its effect upon the perceiver.” ( A prime example of sublime is the painting “A coming storm” by Sanford Gifford. Gifford was born and raised in upstate New York. Shortly after Sanford moved to Rhode Island where attended Brown University for two years. Later, he returned to New York to continue his studies in the field of the arts. It was to be said that when Sanford studied with drawing-master and watercolorist, Rubens, he learned to portraiture and topographical rendering. Portraiture is showing the object in its basic form or pose, while allowing the artist to show the persons personality (if it is human). During the summer of 1846, is when he made his revelation about his favorite kind of painting styles. Gifford became an admirer of the work of Thomas Cole. Thomas Cole is most known for being the creator of the Hudson River School. “The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism.” ( Their paintings depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, as well as the Catskill Mountains and other predominant mountains in the United States. Hudson River School paintings were a reflect of the three major themes which were occurring in America in the 19th century. Those were discovery, exploration, and settlement. Many Americans were heading west and in search of new land to settle on and raise a family. New land and ideas offered new hope, which was a major theme. Their realistic, detailed, and sometimes idealized picture of nature portrays the Hudson River School landscapes. Gifford visited several of the same locations where Cole previously painted numerous works of art, such as, the Berkshire and Catskill mountains. His attendance to the Hudson River School was the major factor that affected his choice of art and his style he decided to follow. What drew me to this piece of artwork was the aspect of light in the painting. The artist used the dark colors all around the painting to emphasize the light. The source of light slowly...
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