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The challenge of the sublimeFrom Burke's Philosophical Enquiry to British Romantic art$
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Hélène Ibata

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526117397

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526117397.001.0001

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Reynolds, the great style and the Burkean sublime

Reynolds, the great style and the Burkean sublime

(p.85) 3 Reynolds, the great style and the Burkean sublime
The challenge of the sublime

Hélène Ibata

Manchester University Press

The chapter examines intellectual interactions between Burke and Reynolds and contrasts their conceptions of the sublime, in order to determine the extent of Burke’s influence on his friend. Reynolds’s own conception of the sublime is shown to be solidly anchored in the neoclassical tradition and its assimilation of the sublime to the ‘great style’ as well as to Michelangelo’s terribilità. Yet, one may discern ways in which the Enquiry’s irrationalism filtered into Reynolds’s own theory of art, which suggests that he played a part in mediating his friend’s aesthetics for the Royal Academy of Arts. Reynolds’s reconciliation of the neoclassical notion of the ‘great style’ with a new emphasis on imagination and intensity of affect is then understood as one of the first stages in the development of ‘Burkean’ academic productions, which flourished from the mid-1770s onwards.

Keywords:   Reynolds, Burke, Neoclassicism, Royal Academy, Great style, Michelangelo

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