Positive Aesthetics: Beauty versus Interest


When the Earl of Dunraven arrived in the new Yellowstone National Park in 1874, he immediately began trying to decide which hot spring ws the most beautiful in the world.

Rejecting one in Iceland and declaring one in New Zealand to be the most beautiful, he nevertheless concluded that no hot spring exceeded Mammoth Hot Springs in "general interest."

Here scientific interest becomes the key category when the circumstances does not fit the standards of picturesque beauty.

Note: Thomas Moran, the artist, is standing in the picture a little to the right of center for scale, casting a shadow on the rock behind him.

W. H. Jackson, Mammoth Hot Springs on Gardiner's River, after 1880, Metropolitan Museum of Art