It’s cold and icy in London.  Instead of posting some pictures of that, I thought I would post something that has haunted/amazed me virtually all of my life.

Frederic Edwin Church's "The Icebergs"

When I was young, my mother would volunteer at the Dallas Museum of Art sometimes.  I went there a few times a year, and every time I would always stand in front of this painting by Church.  What amazed me about the painting was the sheer scale of it.  As a small kid it dwarfed me.  I looked at it and it took up my whole field of view, the dimensions are approximately 1.6 meters by 2.8 meters.  I can almost remember being scared while looking at it.

I remember thinking to myself, and I might have asked my mom, “What has happened to all the people that were on the ship?”  I could only think that all that were on board were doomed.

Clearly there had been a shipwreck.  The mast in the foreground spoke of that.  I didn’t know anything about the sublime at the time.  I didn’t think about how the beauty and serenity of the light offset the broken mast and doom that had possibly just occurred.  I just thought about the people on board that ship.

When I was a teenager I remember getting a postcard of it and placing it near my desk.  I think it remained there through college while I was an undergraduate.

And this year I wrote about the painting, briefly, but read extensively about how Church went about making the paintings.  He took a boat out towards Newfoundland and set out to try and paint Icebergs.  At that time in the Hudson Valley School of painting, the pupils and disciples of Thomas Cole trekked to the ends of the earth with their paints and canvases.  They tried to bring back the extremes of nature to the masses in the cities as they increasingly became entrenched in their daily grind of making the industrial revolution come to life.

Church felt too detached from the icebergs on board his schooner and opted to row in a dingy ONTO THE ICEBERGS!  There he could set up and paint ON THE ICEBERGS!  In reading that I thought he had the dedication or the foolishness necessary to make his work the best that he could.  We all should try and follow that lead, right?

Also, I think I need to find a copy of this and put it up in my place.  I think I need it to look at it everyday again.


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