Thomas Cole - The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1836. Oil on canvas
The fourth painting, Destruction, has almost the same perspective as the third, though the artist has stepped back a bit to allow a wider scene of the action, and moved almost to the center of the river. The action is the sack and destruction of the city, in the course of a tempest seen in the distance. It seems that a fleet of enemy warriors has overthrown the city’s defenses, sailed up the river, and is busily firing the city and killing and raping its inhabitants. The bridge across which the triumphal procession had crossed is broken; a makeshift crossing strains under the weight of soldiers and refugees. Columns are broken, fire breaks from the upper floors of a palace on the river bank. In the foreground a statue of some venerable hero stands headless, still striding forward into the uncertain future, reminiscent of the hunter in the first painting. The scene is perhaps suggested by the Vandal sack of Rome in 455.
William Blake - Nebuchadnezzar, 1795. Copper engraving with pen and ink and watercolour
From the Tate Gallery:
In the prospectus for his book, Varley announced his intention to include an engraving of Blake’s Nebuchadnezzar. This was never completed but, as with Ghost of a Flea, Varley may have been interested in the transformation of man into beast. The Bible describes how King Nebuchadnezzar was driven mad and forced to live like a wild animal as punishment for excessive pride. The association between moral corruption and bestial appearance is also suggested by Lavater, who traces a scale of perfection from the head of a frog to the face of Apollo.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti - The Annunciation (Ecce Ancilla Domini), 1849-50. Oil on canvas
From the Tate Gallery:
An angel is announcing to Mary that she will give birth to the Christ child. She appears to be recoiling as if disturbed from sleep. This is a radical reinterpretation of the subject. Traditionally the Virgin was depicted in studious contemplation. Dante Gabriel Rossetti rejected the tradition of representing the Virgin passively receiving the news. Instead he wanted the picture to have a supernatural realism. White is the dominant colour here, symbolising the idea of feminine purity. This is reinforced by the lily embroidery – the same one the Virgin is shown working on in Rossetti’s painting of The Girlhood of Mary Virgin.
Further reading about this artwork here