UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

Sublime and Fall: Benjamin West and the Politics of the Sublime in Early Nineteenth Century Marylebone

Grindle, NM; (2015) Sublime and Fall: Benjamin West and the Politics of the Sublime in Early Nineteenth Century Marylebone. In: Hemingway, A and Wallach, A, (eds.) Transatlantic Romanticism. (pp. 83-101). University of Massachusetts Press: Amherst, MA, USA. Green open access

[thumbnail of Grindle Sublime and Fall in Hemingway & Wallach eds.pdf]
Preview
Text
Grindle Sublime and Fall in Hemingway & Wallach eds.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (313kB) | Preview

Abstract

This essay shows that a Whiggish discourse of the sublime served to govern the reception of both West’s subjects and his ambition, but that Tory speakers used the same discourse to frame a different cultural politics after 1815, one which highlighted the imminence of apocalypse and undermined the security of West’s discursive position. The discourse about sublime painting for churches was one of a number of discourses which, as Peter de Bolla has shown was the case with the discourse on debt in mid-eighteenth century England, are not only about excess, but are themselves characterised by excessive language. Other examples included the discourse on population, and the discourse on church building. For de Bolla, whose focus is on the embodiment and practice of the sublime as a discourse, as well as its theorisation, William Pitt the Elder is the exemplar of the subject as a “functional effect,” that is, not as an individual but as a subject position who embodies the discourse and at the same time renders it as a public text, not as the destroying specter of private ambition. I will argue that West was an exemplary subject who “worked his socially legitimating magic in proportion as the transitions from text to public are smooth and uninterrupted.” That is to say, West’s mastery of the technical demands made on him by very large altarpieces issued in a recognition of his own exemplary sublimity, that is, his public constitution as someone who is himself sublime. Yet his exemplary nature proved to be insecure, and I shall suggest that, taken as a discursive specter or function-effect of discourse, West failed to contain the contradictions between private ambition and public interest. In this sense, he offers an interesting view of other exemplary public bodies associated so closely with Marylebone, especially the Prince Regent, and the parish vestry.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Sublime and Fall: Benjamin West and the Politics of the Sublime in Early Nineteenth Century Marylebone
ISBN: 1625341148
ISBN-13: 9781625341143
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.umasspress.com/9781625341143/transatla...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10115211
Downloads since deposit
7Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item