The Edge of Doom
On View: Beaux-Arts Court, East, 3rd Floor
In The Edge of Doom, Samuel Colman paints the ultimate disaster: the destruction of the world. Lightning was particularly suited for evoking the emotions of awe and terror associated with the Sublime, a nineteenth-century concept of nature as vast and unknowable. Here, it strikes erratically, blasting classical buildings, carriages, paintings, and even Time (a figure with an hourglass and scythe) to create a central glowing void. All that survives is the memorial sculpture of William Shakespeare, then and now on view in London’s Westminster Abbey.
Oil on canvas
54 x 78 1/2 in. (137.2 x 199.4 cm)
Frame: 72 x 96 x 7 1/2 in. (182.9 x 243.8 x 19.1 cm)
Signed and dated lower right: "S. Colman 1836" and "S. Colman 1838"
Inscribed lower center, on plinth:
"The cloud-capt towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And like the baseless fabric of a vision,
Leave not a rack behind"
Text from Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act IV, Scene 1, lines 151-156.
Bequest of Laura L. Barnes, by exchange
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