The Arctic Fantasies of Edwin Landseer and Briton Riviere: Polar Bears, Wilderness and Notions of the Sublime - Tate Research Repository
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Journal article

The Arctic Fantasies of Edwin Landseer and Briton Riviere: Polar Bears, Wilderness and Notions of the Sublime

2010

Abstract

Nineteenth-century images of the Arctic suggest that the sublime lost its religious and moral dimensions. While Frederic Church’s painting Icebergs 1861 evoked the glories of this pristine environment as God’s temple, Edwin Landseer’s grimly materialistic Man Proposes, God Disposes 1864 – polar bears crunching the bones of Sir John Franklin’s lost men – equated human traits with bestial behaviour. This might have been related to a growing Darwinian awareness that humans and other species were united by a struggle for existence in a hostile environment.

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