COLE, Thomas
(b. 1801, Bolton-le-Moor, d. 1848, Catskill)

The Titan's Goblet

Oil on canvas, 49 x 41 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This painting is as fantastic as it is surreal.

The compositional structure of this painting might recall earlier universal landscapes, were it not for a disturbing factor. On a rocky plateau projecting into the picture like a crossbar rises a huge stone goblet whose shaft consists of a gigantic primordial tree and whose base and rim are overgrown with forests interspersed with ancient settlements. The goblet is filled with water that serves tiny sailboats as a landlocked sea. It creates the impression of being a relic of the age of titans, who, according to Greek myth, populated the earth before men and gods.