Hélène Ibata
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From sublime association to sublime energy
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This final chapter concludes the study with another major figure of British art, Joseph Mallord William Turner. Turner’s lifelong ambition to emulate the powers of poetry is shown to have led him to provide one of the most adequate pictorial responses to the challenge initiated by Burke’s Enquiry. After examining the various channels through which eighteenth-century theories of the sublime reached Turner, the argument focuses on his radical transformation of the pictorial medium, as a means to overcome the mimetic limitations of visual representation and articulate the presentation of the unpresentable. His art is understood as the culmination of the reflection about the artistic medium which had been set in motion by the quest for the sublime, and by the growing awareness of inadequacies inherent to mimetic pictorial representation. It may be seen as the place where the aesthetics of theEnquiry were taken to their radical conclusion, leading to a resolute change of paradigms in visual representation.

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The challenge of the sublime

From Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry to British Romantic art


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