Does the architecture in this painting place it in any specific part of the world?
Samuel Colman sought to portray the ultimate destruction of civilization in "The Edge of Doom." The architecture is meant to evoke so-called Classical tradition in the European West, itself modeled on the Greco-Roman civilizations, and suggests that its downfall would mean the end of civilization as we know it.
It also also worth noting that the church at the center of the painting is still intact at this stage.
Was he religious?
Colman was certainly interested in religion. He identified as a Protestant and often questioned the Church of England. However, my understanding is that his questioning was of the establishment rather than the beliefs themselves.
Why, for Colman, is the statue of Shakespeare the only thing that remains when the world is destroyed?
Shakespeare in Samuel Colman's The Edge of Doom is based on the statue that now stands in Westminster Abbey. Colman is, in effect, placing Shakespeare in the role of prophet. The title of the work is also a quote from one of Shakespeare's sonnets. The statue, and its the depiction here, have a quote from the play The Tempest that talks about destruction.
Is this a god?
If you look closely, you can see that figure at the center of Colman's Edge of Doom is actually William Shakespeare standing with a few lines from his play, The Tempest. He is a god to some!
In The Edge of Doom by Colman, what is the significance of the painting falling into the ruins?
The painting represents the idea of culture and the arts, which is going to be destroyed along with civilization. The falling winged figure next to the painting is a representation of father time, another aspect of the world that is being destroyed here.
The work was inspired by lines from Shakespeare's "The Tempest."
Thank you this was great.
This red line. Was it created by the artist? Or someone in conservation? Was it vandalism?
These red lines are an original part of the painting. They are supposed to represent lightning.
That natural force adds to the concept of the awe and terror associated with the Sublime notion of nature
But the line is red. And zigzagging.
Yes, I believe it's meant to evoke the way lightning breaks across the sky. And in this case it's being interacting with the fire raging in the center. It does look a bit different that the three bolts descending from the center. But it does mimic the lighting on the clouds it comes from.
Ok. Thank you.
You're welcome. Do you have any theories as to what it might be?
It looks like a meteor trail so maybe a piece of volcanic rock from Mt. Vesuvius, but the zigzagging is confusing me.
I thought it could be that too, although that painting doesn't directly reference the eruption of Vesuvius. If not lightning, my next guess would be some kind of rock debris leaving a trail.
We don't have any notes about the piece being vandalized so I don't think that's it, neither any information about a mistake being made in conservation, by us or a previous owner but who knows, its possible.
It doesn't fit with the overall painting. I can understand the whites being lightning but the red is only in a certain section of the painting and it crosses itself. If it was done by the artist, then I fail to see the reason. Everything else in the painting is so intricate, so beautifully detailed. I don't understand it but I suppose that's just me.
I totally understand what you are saying, but there are other elements in the painting that can be described as "messy," like the irregular grey and black brushstrokes at the very top. I just think if it was a conservation error or vandalism, especially in such a prominent piece, it would be noted in the object record.
Now, I agree with you that it was most likely the work of the artist. I believe the grey and black brushstrokes at the top are angel wings. And the white light could be the opening of the clouds to the sky but I thought it was the angel itself.
Interesting observations. I can definitely see that now that you point it out. In fact, the scene (and the painting's title) is based on a line from William Shakespeare's "The Tempest," and refers to an empire destroyed by the christian God. So I can absolutely see where angel wings fit in, even if I can't confirm it was the artist's intention.
Thank you for the background facts. I'll remember that now every time I look at this painting; indeed, the ferocious nature paintings are the primary reason I visit the museum. Thank you for the interesting art talk.
Why is the sculpture of Shakespeare left standing?
That's exactly what you're supposed to notice! As the title indicates, "The Edge of Doom" portrays the destruction of the world. Colman has positioned Shakespeare as a prophet. The title is a quote from one of his sonnets and the scroll he is holding includes lines from The Tempest about destruction. One can also interpret the Shakespeare figure as a symbol of thought and literature, suggesting that these intangible ideas will be the last thing left in the end.
What can you tell me about Samuel Colman?
He was an English painter who we actually know very little about today. He was born in 1780 but there is no evidence about his life prior to his marriage in the town of Yeovil in 1813 at the age of 33. Shortly after he and his wife moved to Bristol and then to London. He was influenced by the local Bristol School of artists, painting landscapes and genre scenes, as well as portraits in a detailed and brightly colored style. However, his most characteristic works are large dramatic religious and historical scenes, like this one. In this vein he was likely influenced by the artist John Martin.
Where did this take place?
This painting actually represents an entirely imagined scene of the end of the world. It was painted between 1836 and 1838 based on how the artist though the world would crumble with many similarities to a prophecy in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Is this an earthquake?
That's a good guess. The Edge of Doom is meant to show what the artist imagined the end of the world would like with buildings collapsing, debris falling from the sky, and things catching fire.
Did you notice the statue of Shakespeare still standing at the center? Samuel Colman is showing that he thinks language and though will be the last parts of civilization to survive.
Can you give me an in depth description of how the different parts of these paintings evoke the end of the world aside from their darkness?
Besides the darkness, both also focus explicitly on destruction, including with the use of sometimes violent brushstrokes. In the case of Colman's painting, there is also a good amount of symbolism implying apocalyptic destruction. For instance, the falling winged figure is a representation of father time, one fundamental aspect of the world that is falling apart!
In the case of the Hamilton, while Hamilton is showing us a real event, the end of a city rather than the world, his interest is in the cyclical nature of civilizations.
Thanks for the answer, well said.
Which city does this painting depict? Is it London or fiction?
It could be based on London, but the scene here is more meant to represent Western Civilization.
In "The Edge of Doom", Samuel Colman potrays the ultimate destruction of civilization. The architecture is meant to evoke the Neoclassical tradition in Europe, itself modeled on the Greco-Roman civilizations, and suggests that the downfall of the West would mean the end of civilization as we know it.
Is it that a statue of Shakespeare at the bottom?
It is! The statue of Shakespeare is based on the statue that stands in Westminster Abbey. Colman is, in effect, placing Shakespeare in the role of prophet.
Why Shakespeare and not Socrates, Cicero, or any other of the earlier Greek/Roman philosophers?
The artist chose Shakespeare based on a quote from his play "The Tempest" that suggests the world is as insubstantial as a play.
The angel in the middle bottom: that’s death?
Actually, it is Father Time. He has lost his footing and tumbles upside down into the chasm. This indicates the end of time.
What is the picture next to Father Time?
The painting is a small copy of a well-known ceiling painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Guido Reni. The original is in the Casino dell'Aurora, the main building of the Palazzo Rospigliosi-Pallavicini in Rome. It depicts Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, leading the chariot of Apollo, the god of the sun.
Thank you very much.
Do we know what might have made Colman inclined to paint an end of times picture?
This end of days scene falls into the category of the "apocalyptic sublime" which was popular in the 19th century. This genre of painting focuses on awe-inspiring levels of destruction. Colman's interpretation is loosely based on a scene from Shakespeare's The Tempest which is one of the reasons his statue stands at the center.