Joseph Mallord William Turner ‘The Fall of an Avalanche in the Grisons’, exhibited 1810
Turner, The Fall of an Avalanche in the Grisons (1810, Tate)

Suddenly, there came in the direction of Dome du Goûter a crash of prolonged thunder; and when I looked up, I saw the cloud cloven, as it were by the avalanche itself, whose white stream came bounding down the eastern slope of the mountain, like slow lightning. The vapour parted before its fall, pierced by the whirlwind of its motion; the gap widened, the dark shade melted away on either side; and, like a risen spirit casting off its garment of corruption, and flushed with eternity of life, the Aiguilles of the south broke through the black foam of the storm clouds. One by one, pyramid above pyramid, the mighty range of its companions shot off their shrouds, and took to themselves their glory —all fire—no shade—no dimness. Spire of ice—dome of snow—wedge of rock—all fire in the light of the sunset, sank into the hollows of the crags and pierced through the prisms of the glaciers, and dwelt within them as it does in clouds. The ponderous storm writhed and moaned beneath them, the forests wailed and waved in the evening wind, the steep river flashed and leaped along the valley; but the mighty pyramids stood calmly —in the very heart of the high heaven —a celestial city with walls of amethyst and gates of gold—filled with the light and clothed with the Peace of God. And then I learned—what till then I had not known—the real meaning of the word Beautiful. With all that I had ever seen before—there had come mingled the associations of humanity—the exertion of human power—the action of human mind. The image of self had not been effaced in that of God. It was then only beneath those glorious hills that I learned how thought itself may become ignoble and energy itself become base—when compared with the absorption of soul and spirit—the prostration of all power—and the cessation of all will—before, and in the Presence of, the manifested Deity.[1]

[1] Ruskin, Modern Painters, Appendix pg. 364

http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/depts/ruskinlib/Modern%20Painters

Advertisements