Given his luminous treatment of light, sky, and water, J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) is often viewed in hindsight as a precursor of Impressionism. Yet as Turner authority Andrew Wilton has argued, his roots lie in a specifically eighteenth century tradition, that of the "sublime." Before landscape painting was accepted in England as the rendition of everyday reality, it was seen as the expression of a state of spiritual exaltation.
The roots of the notion of the sublime, Wilton notes, go back to antiquity: Longinus observed (according to an eighteenth century paraphrase) that "the effect of the sublime is to lift up the soul...so that participating, as it were, of the splendors of the divinity, it becomes filled with joy and exultation." The sublime, therefore, was understood to produce an effect of elevation toward unity with divine. In its origins, the sublime was associated with literary rather than visual art, as its connotations of power and mystery could most easily be conveyed in words; and its subject matter was epic, historical, or religious. To eighteenth century commentators, Homer, the Bible, and Milton were quintessentially sublime. When the concept was applied to painting, this narrative emphasis was maintained, leading almost by necessity to a focus on the human figure; for Joshua Reynolds, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes exemplified the sublime in art. Because it did not show figures (except incidentally) landscape was necessarily seen as inferior.
The transition to the conception that produced Turner's landscapes had several sources. One was the eighteenth century's quasi-religious excitement in the scientific investigation of nature, shown for example when Addison exclaimed upon the astronomer's "pleasing astonishment, to see so many worlds, hanging one above another, and sliding round their axles in such an amazing pomp and solemnity." A second was the rise of a middle class with the leisure to travel, which led to an interest in the Rigged vistas of Wales and Scotland. Finally, James Thomson's immensely popular nature epic "The Seasons" (1726-30) applied blank verse, with its connotations of loftiness, to portrayal of nature's immensities. By the latter part of the century, there was a well-defined notion of the sublime in literature and painting, which included nature while by no means excluding earlier referents. According to Edmund Burke's definitive essay of 1757, the sublime in nature was closely tied up with vastness, lack of habitation and cultivation, and danger— which, as in the reaction to high mountain passes or storms at sea, was conducive to awe. These qualities, as evoked in the painting of landscapes (and urban vistas, an important though subordinate field), produced a series of genres that, Wilton stresses, form the key to Turner's work: the "picturesque sublime," the "terrific" (wild crags, cataracts, etc.), the sublime of the sea, mountains, and darkness, and finally the "architectural sublime" and the urban sublime.
(1) According to the passage, landscapes were not originally seen as embodying the sublime because
A. the narrative connotations of the sublime implied an emphasis on the human figure X
B. only religious subjects were seen as embodying the sublime
C. Michelangelo did not paint landscape
D. landscape was viewed purely as the visual representation of everyday nature scenes
E. nature was not conceived as a source of awe and wonder
(2) The author gives specific examples of all of the following EXCEPT
A. the conception of the sublime held in antiquity
B. the subject matter which might be considered as representing the "terrific"
C. a work of visual art considered as embodying the sublime by an eighteenth century authority
D. a historical figure exemplifying the sublime
E. a conception similar to that of the sublime in a nonartistic context
(3) According to the author, Burke contributed to the development of the concept of the sublime by
A. classifying the genres of the sublime in art
B. broadening the conception of the sublime to include nature
C. giving a more clear cut definition of the sublime than earlier writers
D. defining some of the qualities in nature that could be considered sublime
E. rejecting Longinus's identification of the sublime with religious experience
Please explain your answers.