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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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Turner: from sublime association to sublime energy

Turner: from sublime association to sublime energy

(p.267) 9 Turner: from sublime association to sublime energy
The challenge of the sublime

Hélène Ibata

Manchester University Press

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 the Enquiry were taken to their radical conclusion, leading to a resolute change of paradigms in visual representation.

Keywords:   Turner, Sister arts, Mimesis, Representation, Unpresentable, Artistic medium

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