American Paintings: The Titan's Goblet w/Video

Cole often provided text to accompany his paintings, but did not comment on The Titan’s Goblet, leaving his intentions open to debate.

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The Titan’s Goblet is an oil painting by the English-born American landscape artist Thomas Cole. Painted in 1833, it is perhaps the most enigmatic of Cole’s allegorical or imaginary landscape scenes. It is a work that “defies full explanation”, according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Titan’s Goblet has been called a “picture within a picture” and a “landscape within a landscape”: the goblet stands on conventional terrain, but its inhabitants live along its rim in a world all their own. Vegetation covers the entire brim, broken only by two tiny buildings, a Greek temple and an Italian palace. The vast waters are dotted with sailing vessels. Where the water spills upon the ground below, grass and a more rudimentary civilization spring up.

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