Themes in Art

The Sublime

‘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.’ This terror, as defined by Edmund Burke in his 1757 essay A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, is what humans feel when faced with greatness beyond measurement. The power of a thunderstorm, a mountain range of inexpressible size, and the existential epiphany of our spiritual insignificance in the vast sweep of the universe.
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A Dream of Italy, Robert S. Duncanson

A Dream of Italy Robert S. Duncanson, 1855

A Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rosalie, Albert Bierstadt

A Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rosalie Albert Bierstadt, 1866

Cotopaxi, Frederic Edwin Church

Cotopaxi Frederic Edwin Church, 1862

Isadora Duncan in the Parthenon, Edward J. Steichen

Isadora Duncan in the Parthenon Edward J. Steichen, 1921

Lake George Reflection, Georgia O'Keeffe

Lake George Reflection Georgia O'Keeffe, 1921 – 1922

Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California, Albert Bierstadt

Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California Albert Bierstadt, 1865

Mount Corcoran, Albert Bierstadt

Mount Corcoran Albert Bierstadt, 1876 – 1877

The Voyage of Life: Childhood, Thomas Cole

The Voyage of Life: Childhood Thomas Cole, 1842

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