Friday, January 11, 2008
'The Giant's Chalice' by Thomas Cole (1833)
This is an amazing picture. I think it is my favorite American painting. It is heavly influenced by the German Romantic style.
In this picture we have a vast landscape in which there is a gigantic cup-shaped formation. The cup is in itself a landscape, with waterfalls, a sea with ships, vast forests and settlements.
The largeness of the cup makes the wider landscape seem even more vast. How far does this land stretch? Is it an island? Is there a sea beyond the horizon? Or is it part of a continent like Australia?
This picture captures a sense of the vastness of the world.
The first European to land on the North American continent was John Cabot (not Christopher Columbus). He was an Italian serving under the English flag.
Imagine John Cabot landing on the shores of North America. Maybe he saw a little stretch of woodland ahead of him and nothing more.
Could John Cabot in his wildest dreams have imagined the vast continent that lay beyond his horizon? Beyond that little stretch of woodland ahead of him were whole mountain ranges, rivers, vast forests, great deserts and grassy plains. Could he possibly have conceived what a great land he had come to?
America is so huge. It makes me feel so happy to think that there is such an enormous place as America. Americans are very privileged to live in such a great country.