Sublime

DEFINITION

In the context of aesthetics, a concept dating back to the ancient world, and when applied to American landscape painting, especially pertains to the 19th-century Hudson River School. Historical American painter Washington Allston (1779-1843) lectured on the Sublime from principles he had learned in England. He described it as an "infinite idea" of which we are not necessarily even aware, but which operates as the ???true cause??? of the ???ever stimulating, yet ever-eluding??? nature of experience that . . .???the imagination cannot master??? and which will thus ???master the imagination???. Perpetuated by Thomas Cole and his followers, the sublime relates to creating artwork so large in size and so stirring of imagination the viewer is overwhelmed and is transported by feelings of reaching a plane higher than &#39;humaness&#39;. In other words, a special power seems to be emanating, which often stimulates imagination and stirs fear and uncertainty. It is the opposite of &#39;beautiful&#39;. Techniques to create the Sublime for the Hudson River School painters were depicting wilderness as overpowering with vaguely threatening geological structures ??? such as mountains, canyons, and trees split by lightening. These effects inspired shudders of fear and feelings of awe at the enormity of the divine creation and uncertainty as to the resolution. It is written that the "most sublime literature of all was the Bible, closely followed, in eighteenth-century opinion, by Milton&#39;s modern Christian epic "Paradise Lost". Source: Andrew Wilton and Tim Barringer, "American Sublime, Landscape Painting in the United States, 1820-1880", pp. 11-12 (LPD)<br><br>A concept, thing or state of exceptional and awe-inspiring beauty and moral or intellectual expression; a goal to which many nineteenth-century artists aspired in their artworks. Noble, majestic. Also see aesthetics, chado, cute, harmony, Hudson River School, Impressionism, kitsch, landscape, Luminism, mystery, nature, nice, pain, picturesque, positive, pretty, Realism, Romanticism, and Stendhal syndrome.

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