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The Edge of Doom

Samuel Colman

European Art

In The Edge of Doom, Samuel Colman imagines the destruction of (Western) civilization. Known for spectacular, apocalyptic imagery, here Colman portrays bolts of lightning striking erratically, blasting classical and Gothic buildings, carriages, paintings, and even the figure of Time (tumbling with an hourglass and scythe) into a central glowing void. All that survives is the memorial sculpture of William Shakespeare, then and now on view in London’s Westminster Abbey.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: England
  • DATES 1836–1838
    DIMENSIONS 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)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed and dated lower right: "S. Colman 1836" and "S. Colman 1838"
    INSCRIPTIONS 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.
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Bequest of Laura L. Barnes, by exchange
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Samuel Colman (British, 1780–1845). The Edge of Doom, 1836–1838. Oil on canvas, 54 x 78 1/2 in. (137.2 x 199.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Laura L. Barnes, by exchange, 69.130 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 69.130_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 69.130_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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