Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Waterfall in Yosemite - Thomas Moran

I have selected this painting by Thomas Moran entitled: "Waterfall in Yosemite" which to me shows both the 'sublime' and the 'beautiful'.

The foreground shows numerous rocks and a rapid in the river. From first glance this can be viewed as the sublime section of the painting. It shows the difficult passage one must fact when trying to traverse the rapids. There is immediate danger here in the rapids that can be attributed to the hard work the pioneers must have made in order to reach their destination.

The background shows a tall mountain with a waterfall pouring between the gap. To me this is the beautiful part of the image. It shows the promise land, the place the pioneers are striving to get to. A 'Nirvana'. The land over the horizon. The clear blue skies show that there is no extreme weather to be afraid of, nor does the sheer scale of the cliff display anything that would deter anyone from wanting to climb it.

To me, this shows the two contrasting views of western expansion in the US. It shows the finish line, the end zone, the promise land. The rolling hills, green grass, big waterfalls spewing clear water down. It also shows the path one must take to get there. The dangerous rocks and rapids are the challenge you must take to reach the final destination. One thing I've noticed is the colour of the water in the background compared to the foreground. In the back, the water is pristinely clear, presenting no evidence of contamination. The foreground however shows that the water is darker, whether it be shaded or not, it seems darker, as do the trees. The trees look darker and more ominous than those at the back of the painting. The broken log to me also looks as if it symbolises something. Possibly as a example of a failed journey up the river to the promise land. Something that symbolises a failed attempt, that one must heed when journeying there.

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