The Sublime






Thesublime word has been part of literary criticism for an extendedperiod. People often suggest that the sublime is a state of mind anda response to art or nature. The theme was developed by 1700 andregarded as beyond comprehension and measurement. Visual arts havecontinuously been used to represent the sublime. Artists and paintershave always aspired to address the sublime in their art by creatingworks that have a sublime effect on the spectator. Sublime is used inour daily language to anything that can be refined to the highestpoint. Edmund Burke perfected the idea of the sublime and divided itinto different aspects that were discernible in both natural worldand phenomena. The paper address ways in which the imagery of Cole’spainting illustrates or demonstrates the concept of the sublimity asunderstood through Burke’s definition.

ThomasCole`s The Oxbow included a masterpiece of American landscapepainting designed with possible interpretations. The Oxbow was aresponse to criticism against the American inattentiveness to theirscenery. As a result, Cole created the art with the landscape thatspecialized on the country’s uniqueness through involving thesublime and the magnificent picture. The image was specially designedto demonstrate the sublimity according to Cole’s views. Cole’spainting manifested Burke’s concept of the sublime in differentways. First, Cole painting took into account the possibility of thenational landscape through the drawing of untamed wilderness andpastoral settlement.

Healso used the concept of the vastness or the greatness of dimensionthat acts as a potent cause of the sublime. The untamed wildernessand landscape as utilized in the painting takes into account thetheory of the sublime as explained by Edmund Burke. Cole depictshimself being in the middle distance with the picture providing theconcept of power and possibility of the American nation. According toBurke, power derives its sublimity from terror with which it’saccompanied (Riding&amp Llewellyn, 2013).Cole’s painting also uses the concept of color that is alsoconsidered as productive of the sublime. The Oxbow is paint has themountain painted green while the sky is dark and gloomy providingmore sublimity.


Riding,C &amp Llewellyn, N (2013). British Art and the Sublime, in NigelLlewellyn and Christine Riding (eds.), TheArt of the Sublime,Retrieved from llewellyn-british-art-and-the-sublime-r1109418.