Landscape is a particular way of
seeing that extols nature or defines an estate. The Habitat Theory says humans
like landscapes because we evolved in the African Savannah but this does not
explain why landscapes are a cultural phenomenon. The word landscape derived
from the Dutch “landschap” meaning a patch of cultivated land. Landscape first
used in English in 1598 to describe Dutch landscape paintings but not until 1632
to describe a view or vista of natural scenery, so we learned to see landscapes
in nature by looking at paintings(!)
Note: 17th century was the great
age of Dutch painting with
Rembrandt; Willem Kalf (still
life); Adriaen van Ostade (Flemish peasant scenes); Gerard Terborch the Younger
(Dutch interiors); Albert
Cuyp; Jakob van
Ruisdael (landscapes); Jan
Steen; Pieter de
Vermeer; Willem van de Velde
(sea painter to Charles II of England); and Meindert
Gainsborough, Constable and Barbizon School). Dutch landscape was not Arcadian
or Classical – it is part of the typographical tradition; this had conventions,
such it was always sunny, but represented the actual landscape.
1600-1700 Classical landscape
also called Classical Pastoral or Poetic Landscape (representations of an
Landscape painting (the appreciation
of nature for its own sake) really began with Claude Gell�e (called Lorraine)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Lorraine. He painted an idealized world
includes many stereotyped features: the poignant golden light of early morning
or late afternoon; a foreground framed by the dark shadows of large trees and
rocks (a coulisse – a “flat” in the wings of a theatre, a flat is a theatrical
term for a painted canvas on a wooden frame) of stately trees to left or right.;
small gesturing figures placed to one side; a serenely expanding view of fields
or rolling hills crossed by a winding river; a horizon dissolving into a
And Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Poussin, painted in a similar mode but
with occasional mountainous vistas or looming storms. These bland, conventional
landscapes were the dominant style, although the Italian Salvator Rosa
(1615-1673) was famous for his “terrifying” views of stormy dark forests and
craggy mountains (pre-romantic, pre-sublime).
Where the background began to
dominate the history subject. Tried to evoke landscape of classical Greece and
Rome so became known as Classical Landscape. Landscapes often showed
mythological scenes. Dutch landscape painters went for more realism.
French Academy classified Landscape
no. 4 in its list of genres.
Arcadian theme. Arcadia was the
Ancient Greek Garden of Eden. Mentioned in fragment 31 and 32 of the Hesiod’s
(c.700BC). 3rdC BC Theocritus created a literary genre called “bucolic poetry”
(from the Greek “bukolos,” a herdsman), poems called “Idylls” based in Sicily.
They used exchanges of verses by fictional shepherds as a compositional
strategy, mainly recounted their heterosexual or homosexual love affairs). Then
Virgil (70-19BC) (of Aeneid fame) used the Idylls in order to create in Latin 10
masterpieces of bucolic or pastoral (from Latin “pastor” for shepherd) poetry,
known as the “Eclogues” or “Bucolics.” These were located in Arcadia (an actual
region of Greece as well as a legendary region). They were popular in the
Renaissance and the genre was known as Pastoral Poetry. There was also a
tradition of painting shepherds picked up by Poussin in “The Arcadian shepherds”
(also called “ET IN ARCADIA EGO”), 1647.
Virgil also wrote the Georgics (see
for text) on the
subject of agriculture (from Greek “Georgos” for farmer). Georgic poems,
therefore, are concerned with rural business/labour, unlike pastoral poems which
celebrate leisure. The Georgics celebrated the fruitfulness of his native Italy,
describes farming but still and idealised view of health and plenty, e.g.
Press deep your plough behind the groaning ox,
And teach the furrow-burnished share to shine.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744) believed
that “all gardening is landscape painting”, “all nature is a garden”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Pope We see here a shift from far
past and mythology to constructed landscape gardens.
1700-1800 Arcadian evolves into
In 1700 landscape was a nobleman’s
dream inspired by classical pastoral poetry such as the Roman poet Virgil and
the paintings of Claude. The aristocrat was disdainful of work (although careful
to work hard to pass on his estate).
By 1710 it started to change.
Shepherds became ploughman but by showing something more realistic how did
artists avoid showing the actuality of the life of the poor? What conventions
were introduced to show real farm workers without showing dirt and starvation?
There were (unwritten) rules introduced in the 18thC for showing the poor to
protect the sensibilities of the “polite” (a key word):
A few rags and vulgarity were allowed.
Serenity and innocent simplicity.
Laborious and honest “hinds” (labourers).
Shown working or resting between
periods of work or resting after a hard day’s work or at the end of the harvest.
Rural workers are always cheerful and healthy.
Men and children were dressed in poor clothes.
Women were idealised as if from court (and
women at court dressed as milkmaids and shepherdesses).
Cottages must be sufficient and independent.
A mid-18thC rule is the rich are shown in the
light and the poor in the shadows. The rule could be bent, e.g. by Lambert, by
showing the good, laborious, honest poor in the sun.
Shown as the objects of our pity and charity
later in the century as giving charity to the honest poor became acceptable
1750 onwards (e.g. Gainsborough) they are
shown blithely working as a pleasant social activity but by 1800 this was not
credible so they were hidden (e.g. by Constable) in the middle ground. When in
the 1790s Morland shows them in the foreground they seem “uncomfortably close”
(according to Barrel).
For Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)
and Richard Wilson (1713-1782) the figures were merely placeholders “a little
business for the Eye” (based on a Reynolds reported conversation and what they
The critical influence was
Gainsborough. He shows the fundamental change from the rural poor as happy
husbandmen to the labouring poor although it is unlikely he was making a
political statement. His labouring poor were sentimentalised.
George Morland (1763-1804, see
http://www.sterlingtimes.org/memorable_images32.htm) shows the limits of
what was acceptable to show.
Landscape paintings were peopled as
it doubled the price (see Richard Wilson, Croome Court 1758) but the people
could be “staffage” (humans or animals as unimportant, animating elements of a
landscape or an architecture painting, which helps, to clarify relative
importance and depth).
In Britain art depended on commerce
as there was no state funding as in France and no state education. The history
painting was not as important (except to academics such as Reynolds who after
all was trying to sell his training courses at the Academy). What was critical
was what would sell, and this was portraits and estate paintings (commissioned)
and landscapes to hang on the wall as engravings (not commissioned).
But 1780s and 1790s genre paintings
by Wheatley (Industrious Cottager) and Morland(Industrious Cottager) make a
moral point. Morality is introduced with the idea of “the deserving poor” (an
idea developed in the 16thC, the elderly and very young, the infirm, and
families who occasionally found themselves in financial difficulties due to a
change in circumstance. They were considered deserving of social support,
compared to the undeserving poor, criminals, beggars, itinerant works, who were
seen as a danger to society).
Remarkable increase in rural subjects
from 1790 – sheep-shearing, pig feeding, lime-burning, harrowing, ploughing,
haymaking, reaping etc. Triple the number of such paintings were exhibited by
the Academy in 1792 possibly because Reynolds had died and the threat of war and
war with France increased patriotic feelings satisfied by paintings of England.
It continued at this high level until 1818. So landscapes and rural subjects
were seen in a strongly nationalistic light. They are represented as reportage
but Morland images in the 1790s of men not working were severely criticized as
unpatriotic and unsafe.
By 1800 industry was the chief virtue
a poor man could display.
The rich looked to turn their own
estates into Arcadia, e.g Capability Brown (1716-1783)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capability_Brown Walpole said such gardens
manifested the English spirit of liberty. It was important to have vistas as
these indicated freedom unlike formal French gardens.
Arcadia was one of the themes of The
Grand Tour, artists flocked to Rome to emulate Claude. Influenced by Jean
Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), “noble savage”,
Was Arcadia abroad (the Roman
campagna, or even exotic locations such as Tahiti), or to be created at home in
one’s garden or searched for in antiquity? As modern day Arcadia became
problematic a sense of yearning for past Arcadia developed (also tied in to
Romanticism and William Beckford’s Gothic revival at Fonthill). Thus Arcadian
dreams were replaced by the British countryside and the Picturesque (an abstract
concept related to formal pleasure – see Burke and the concept of the Sublime).
This stay-at-home Arcadia related to the Dutch vision. Early Gainsborough (e.g.
Cornard Wood) provides a transition by showing a countryside accessible to
everyone and not contained (enclosed). Later Gainsborough (The Harvest Wagon)
was more sentimental, more of a propaganda statement for an idealised
countryside. This change took place as the countryside became more subversive to
society through rural unrest, more important as a concept of Englishness and
natural freedom and less the centre of wealth creation as industry developed.
Gainsborough and Morland’s rustics
were increasingly unreal with rural unrest growing, exacerbated by enclosures
“Merry England” (or Merrie) landscape
Disappearance of Arcadian pastoral with increasing
concern for work and industry. Rustic figures less shepherds, more ragged but
cheerful. Semi-mythological, pastoral way of life at some indeterminate time
between the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution. See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merry_England. Hogarth’s The Roast Beef of Old
England exploits it. Related to Gothic revival, (started 1780s, peak 1830s),
jolly people in ruffs, “Jacobethan”, timber framed houses, not Catholic (always
an issue with Gothic Revival itself), lively, jolly, pre-industrial. Deep
England opposes parts of Merrie England but is a narrow, conservative view of
what should be preserved, e.g. William Blake, Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood,
William Morris, The Archers, J.B. Priestley, World War II propaganda, John
Betjman, J.R. Tolkein’s shires, John Major’s Little England, cricket on the
village green, roast beef, warm beer.
1750-1850 The Romantic Movement
Some define the term narrowly as from
1798 (when first used by Schlegel) to the 1840s) and some more broadly as a
Its themes were the concept or nature
of man, a revaluation of nature and the past.
It derived from a view of Medieval
Romances as wild and wandering rather than formal and classical.
Romantic was unconstrained, the other
(time or place – Orientalism, Tahiti, Medieval, etc.).
It emphasized the artist as a
creative free spirit, born not taught.
Technically in painting it was
distinguished by its use of colour.
It was a reaction to Rousseu’s “noble
savage” and the belief of the Enlightenment that man is essentially good.
Romantics introduced madness, horror, the “spooky”.
Romanticism revalued the sketch as
the Blake’s “the first line”.
It was associated with images of
liberty, freedom, and no limits.
The idea of the artist as a
commentator and critic of society and somehow outside society was introduced for
the first time.
Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge.
Constable, Turner, Fuseli, Blake, Samuel
Most well-known artists denied they
were Romantics (Delacroix described himself as a classical painter) and the term
was made fun of.
Also note Sturm und Drand in Germany,
Goethe’s Werther and Faust as precursors (or early) romantic works.
1800-1830 The Georgic and
Constable (rural workers working or between work)
In 1810s John Constable was the
principal promoter of Georgic images. He was an obsessive painter of plein-air
studies. He settled in London in 1817. There was a prejudice against landscape
painting although Constable was made an ARA in 1819 and full member in 1829.
Following 1815 with the soldiers
return the countryside lost its power and tranquillity. Riots and rick-burning
In the 1820s more poetic views of the
countryside developed (Francis Danby) with the bourgeoisie visiting the
countryside as a leisure pursuit to enjoy the romantic terrain.
Cheerful, sober domestic peasantry
Rural bliss becomes an urban affair.
1783-1795 George Stubbs (a
Puzzling farming scenes outside
Six scenes, Reapers and Haymakers
Figures arranged in a freize with
dignity, tidy, no dirt.
Most refined and artificial figures
of the century.
Do not look as they did in life.
Formal, monumental and timeless.
1750-1850 Landscape versus the
Note Blake’s (Romantic) marginalia on
his copy of Reynold’s Discourses (neo-classical and history painting).
There had always been historical
landscape. Landscape was often the background to history paintings but it was
not natural. Reynolds disparaged Richard Wilson (1713?-82) for painting a
sensationalist historical landscape. This was influenced by Claude-Joseph
Fuseli responded to Burke’s Sublime
by bringing in a new dramatized history painting and Vernet took it further to
great awe-inspiring landscapes. A pupil of Vernet was Philippe De Loutherbourg
(1740-1812) produced sensational landscapes where the protagonist becomes the
landscape (he was a scene painter and produced dioramas), see An Avalanche in
the Alps, 1803, also Coalbrookedale by Night, very modern industrial scene. De
Loutherbourg set the scene for Turner to produce historicizing landscapes (i.e.
landscapes representing man in general confronting nature as protagonist), e.g.
The Shipwreck, 1805, creates drama and undermines the academic hierarchy
(although it survives for another 50 years). It is political (1805 Trafalgar),
acting out our fears, a sense of turmoil in nature itself. Hannibal Crossing the
Alps (bold, tragic, ironic, Napoleon’s march on Moscow, Turner’s Fallacies of
Heroic landscapes, Turner, James Ward
Gordale Scar, awesome, overpowering. This genre gave rise to John Martin
(1789-1854), never an RA, famous and rich, popular melodrama, e.g. Belshazzar’s
Feast. Turner presents an indifferent universe, Martin had faith in the
protective power of the Divine. The Academy dislike Martin and promoted Francis
Dandy (1793-1861) as a rival until his marriage scandal. In a heroic landscape
the hero is the landscape and in this sense it competes with a history painting,
it is about the general rather than the particular.
Informal aspect and vistas are a
metaphor for freedom, liberty (Horace Walpole)
Travel promoted the search for
Arcadia, a theme of the Grand Tour.
Informal rolling glades, Richard
Wilson Croome Court (Capability Brown, leading landscaper by 1750). Richard
Wilson created British and Roman campagna arcadian landscapes. Ruins on
antiquity and the yearning for a lost golden age.
William Hodges did the same for
John Robert Cozens (1752-97)
poignant, poetic watercolours of Italy. Many painted for William Beckford Gothic
novelist who build Fonthills.
1771 Paul Sandby toured Wales to
sketch a decade before Gilpin popularized sketching and looking at scenery in
Observations on the River Wye, relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty (1782),
Reverend William Gilpin (1724-1804) – the leader of the picturesque movement.
Part of the Romantic movement.
Humphry Repton (1752-1818) –
“A Philosophical Inquiry into the
Origin of Our Ideas of The Sublime and Beautiful With Several Other Additions”,
Edmund Burke, see
Different types of landscape painting
– At one extreme was the Sublime (awesome sights such as great mountains) at the
other the Beautiful, the most peaceful, even pretty sights. In between came the
Picturesque, views seen as being artistic but containing elements of wildness or
irregularity. Theory of the picturesque developed by writers such as William
Gilpin (18th century).
What is the Sublime? Longinus – the
soul that eludes our appreciation of art; beyond human experience, the more to
life than the mundane, Burke associates the fear of death, dismemberment,
terror, and darkness (e.g., a howling wilderness) with feelings of sublime; Kant
says that sublimity does not reside in anything of nature, but only in our mind;
Wordsworth – “And power produces the sublime whether as it is thought of as a
thing to be feared, to be resisted, or that can be participated” (Kant,
Part of the Romantic movement.
1789-1815 Patriotic landscape
Britain’s healthy, thriving
agricultural economy particularly following Napoleon’s blockade.
1805-1815 unprecedented detailed and naturalistic
representations of agricultural scenes (Turner’s Ploughing Up Turnips, Windsor).
1780-1850 Gothic Revival
Part of the Romantic movement.
Return to medieval traditions.
Pugin Contrasts, 1836/40.
Harmony with nature
1770 British Watercolour
The most important British painting
style, focused on landscape.
The technique was well suited to
spontaneity and capturing landscape plein air.
Paul Sandby was a pioneer. His Welsh
trips of 1771 result in the publication, in 1776-7, of thirty-six Views in Aquatinta taken on the Spot in Wales.
John Robert Cozens, touring in
Switzerland and Italy in 1776, brings back wonderfully misty and evocative
Francis Towne, in the same regions in
1781, turns landscape into simple blocks of wash so bold that the effect is
Others include Thomas Girtin, John
Sell Cotman, David Cox and Peter de Wint.
Of course, Blake, Palmer, Turner
(detailed topographical style in his 20s to an abstract colour field in later
Watercolour societies – first the
Society of Artists, founded in 1761 as the exhibiting arm of the Society for the
Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (Society of Arts, founded in
1754). Exhibitions, held in the period 1760-83, marked a major change in the
status of the watercolour as an artwork in its own right, rather than as a
sketch. Within two years the Society of Artists split into two weak and
competing art societies, which both disappeared by 1783.
The Royal Academy of Arts was founded
in 1768 but did not appoint a watercolour artist as RA until 1943 even though
Paul Sandby was a founder (they did worse than women). Watercolours were called
“drawings” to denigrate them.
The Society of Painters in
Water-Colours was founded in 1804 (and relaunched in 1820, after allowing
display of oil paintings at the exhibitions of 1813-19). (A rump society, the
Associated Artists in Water-Colours, was active briefly from 1808-12.) The
Society changed its name in 1881 to the Royal Society of Painters in
Watercolours, and was granted a patent to become the Royal Watercolour Society
(RWS) in 1905, the title it retains today. In the Victorian era it was commonly
referred to as the Old Water-Colour Society (OWCS) to distinguish it from the
New Society of Painters in Water-Colours, founded in 1832 and later called the
Institute of Painters in Water-Colours (1863) and finally the Royal Institute of
Painters in Water-Colours (1883). This New Water-Colour Society (NWCS), widely
perceived as less prestigious than the Old, was founded to encourage the
artistic innovation and wider membership that many artists and critics felt was
lacking in the Old Society.
1805 Plein-air oil painting by
John Linnell, Constable and Turner.
1808 Nazarenes from Vienna
School, lived in Rome
Became international stars and were
an influence into the 1840s.
Overbeck died in 1861 and was very
well known and influential.
1821 William Blake’s Arcadia
Visionary William Blake was urban.
Inspired Samuel Palmer who produced primitive, imaginative visions of rural
life. Seekers of Arcadia from the city projecting onto the countryside and
ignoring the unrest.
Constable’s Arcadian visions were so
powerful they appeared natural.
1826-1834 The Ancients, a group of
artists that gathered around Blake (who died in 1827)
Samuel Palmer’s formed a community of “The
Ancients” at Shoreham where he owned a house. They wore long robes and had
beards. It was a breakaway artistic community with Christian leanings on
Palmer’s part and pagan eroticism on Edward Calvert’s part.
Reform Bill riots in the countryside drove
Palmer back to the city where he continued to paint idealised Arcadian images.
1840s Realism in France
Naturalism and a reaction against
academic history painting.
Possibly influenced by British, e.g.
Constable Gold Medal in 1824 in Paris.
Coined by the French novelist
Champfleury in the 1840s with reference to his friend Courbet.
Gustave Courbet The Burial at Ornans
(1849-50), The Stone Breakers (1850; destroyed), notable for their large scale
and volumetric solidity. 1850s and ’60s, Courbet was the archetypical bohemian
artist of radical political beliefs. Dissatisfied with his treatment by art
juries, Courbet took the revolutionary step of constructing pavilions to show
his work at his own expense during the world’s fairs of 1855 and 1867. Although
his massive The Artist’s Studio (1855) was not well received, the popularity of
his smaller landscapes, hunting scenes, still lifes, and nudes made him
financially secure in the 1860.
Realist subject matter includes
peasant and working class life, city streets, cafes and popular entertainments.
Often gritty or sexually frank subjects.
The term is also used to describe the
photographic realism of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Initially secret society of young
artists (and one writer) founded in London in 1848. Named Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood to indicate opposition to Royal Academy’s promotion of Raphael as
In revolt also against triviality of
immensely popular genre painting of time.
William Holman Hunt, John Everett
Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Inspired by theories of John Ruskin
who urged artists to ‘go to nature’. Believed in an art of serious subjects
treated with maximum realism.
Principal themes initially religious,
then subjects from literature and poetry mostly dealing with love and death.
Also explored modern social problems.
After initial heavy opposition became
highly influential, with second phase around Rossetti from about 1860 making
major contribution to Symbolism.
1850 Barbizon School, Theodore
The country becomes not the city, it
is no longer a place of tension, workers are now in factories, a place of
refreshment and recreation, workers can be shown at one with their surroundings,
something that was previously impossible. Interest in the rural labourer
disappears as they become harmless.
1860s Manet and beginnings of
House of Tudor
Henry VII, Tudor (1485-1509)
Henry VIII (1509-47)
Hans Holbein (1497-1543), The
Edward VI (1537 – King 1547 – 1553), son of
Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, king aged 9, died aged 16. Highly intellectual,
pious and frail.
Lady Jane Grey (1553), did not want to be
Mary I, Tudor (1553-58)
Elizabeth I (1558-1603)
House of Stuart
James I (1603-25)
Charles I (1625-49)
Oliver Cromwell (1649-58)
Richard Cromwell (1658-59)
House of Stuart, Restored
Charles II (1660-85)
James II (1685-88)
House of Orange and Stuart
William III, Mary II (1689-1702)
House of Stuart
House of Brunswick, Hanover Line
George I (1714-27)
George II (1727-60)
George III (1738- King 1760 -1820)
Enclosure Consolidation Act of 1801,
George IV (1762 – Regent 1811 – King 1820 –
Regency period during the last
madness of George III, then as royal art patron and regal libertine.
Time of great ferment and change in
England: an era of rapid industrialization, new wealth and social dislocation;
the height of the Romantic movement and England’s colonial power; an age of
eclectic but often neoclassical styles in fashion, decor, and architecture.
William IV (1830-37)
Reform Act 1832, first change in 150
years to franchise, greatly resisted, pushed by William IV, majority of one,
Poor Law Amendment of 1834, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poor_law. Meant less eligibility and the
“workhouse test” with relief only available in the workhouse which was
House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Edward VII (1901-10)
House of Windsor
George V (1910-36)
Edward VIII (1936)
George VI (1936-52)
Elizabeth II (1952-present)
1328 – 1589Philip VI, John II (the Good),
Charles V (the Wise), Charles VI (the Mad, Well-Beloved, or Foolish), Charles
VII (the Well-Served or Victorious), Louis XI (the Spider), Charles VIII (Father
of his People), Louis XII, Francis I, Henry II, Francis II, Charles IX, Henry
1589 – 1610Henry IV
1610 – 1643Louis XIII
1643 – 1715Louis XIV (the Sun King)
1715 – 1774Louis XV
1774 – 1792Louis XVI
1792 – 1795National Convention
1795 – 1799Directory (Directors)
1799 – 1804Consulate
1st Consul:1799 – 1804 Napoleon
First Empire (emperors)
1804 – 1814Napoleon I
1814 – 1815Louis XVIII (king)
1815 Napoleon I (2nd time)
1814 – 1824Louis XVIII
1824 – 1830Charles X (abdicated during July
1830 – 1848Louis Philippe (“July Monarchy”)
Second Republic (presidents, see
The Revolutions of 1848 in France)
1848 Louis Eug�ne Cavaignac (briefly)
1848-1852 Louis Napoleon (later Napoleon III)
Second Empire (emperors)
1852 – 1870(Louis) Napoleon III
Third Republic (presidents)
1870 – 1940
Vichy Government (Chief of State)
1940 – 1944Henri Philippe Petain
Provisional Government (presidents)
1944 – 1946Charles de Gaulle
1946 Three others
Fourth Republic (presidents) 1947 – 1959
Fifth Republic (presidents)
1959 – 1969 Charles de Gaulle
1969 – 1974 Georges Pompidou
1974 – 1981 Val�ry Giscard d’Estaing
1981 – 1995 Fran�ois Mitterand
1995 – Today Jacques Chirac
Summaries and Articles on
http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/artist03.html good summary of English
watercolour poetic landscape artists.
short biographies of some pre-victorian
list of Norwich School
painters (1805-1833 then less successfully 1839-1880s, originally friends of
John Crome who met regularly)
An irrelevant look at British landscape connoisseurship, 1770-1830, Magazine
Antiques, July, 1996, by Katharine Lochn
A short description of the
history of watercolour painting.