Landscape: Nature and Machine

3General points to remember are:

  1. Think of landscape as an “analytical language”. Don’t think of a landscape as representing a single ideological view but as a dialogue between the painter and the picture on the one hand and between the picture and the viewer on the other.
    In this sense painting or viewing a painting is an analytical process, a toing and froing between many possible interpretations, no single one of which is correct.
  2.  From the painters point of view we must consider the process of vision, was it an imaginative work or a work of reportage and what would this have meant for the painter. The making of a work of art is a process, the painter does not incorporate one single idea into a painting but fuses multiple, sometimes conflicting, ideas and cultural values.
  3.  The commanding eye. The relationship of the viewer is much less passive than we might think. There is a negotiation going on between multiple interpretations, no single one of which is correct.

The word “industry” in the late 18th century meant activity or productiveness. It has been suggested by Helsinger that even Constable’s Haywain suggests industry through its suggestion of enclosure and activity. England led the world in industrialization. These pictures are celebrations of technology, for example, the Chain Pier at Brighton has been described as the Eiffel Tower of its day.

Turner, Chain Pier, Brighton, c.1828

Constable, Chain Pier, Brighton, c.1827

It is interesting to compare the above Turner and Constable.

William Gilpin, Tour of the River Wye, 1782.
For more information see Gilpin’s Tour

Turner, Cooke’s Picturesque Views of the Southern Coast of England, Brighton, 1826

Joseph Wright of Derby Joseph Arkwright’s Mill, View of Cromford, near Matlock, 1783.
In travel guides written at the time (and there many) it would describe where to stand to best view a picturesque scene

Philip de Loutherbourg Coalbrookdale by Night 1801. This is coke smelting taking place near the River Severn. Joseph Wright saw industrialization as wonderful (see Iron Forge). It was some years before further industrialization led to the horrors of the factory worker. Is this Loutherbourg a vision of hell? An apocalyptic scene, hellish figures rushing to feed the furnace, someone yelling. Awe inspiring and sublime. He worked with David Garrick and similar effects are used in the theatre. Look for evidence of a negative attitude to industry outweighed by the power of nature – harnessed or released by man. Promethian.

Joseph Arkwright’s Mill, View of Cromford, near Matlock, 1783

John Sell Cotman Bedlam Furnace, near Madeley 1802.
For us a trope of industry is the smoking chimney but here it appears to be a positive part of the landscape – like smoke from a cottage chimney.

John Linnell Kensington Gravel Pits 1811-12

G. Arnold Pont-y-cysylltau 1826

Turner Cannon Foundry: Interior of Walker’s Foundry at Rotherham or Conisbrough ? 1797

Turner Llanstephan Castle by Moonlight, with a Kiln in the Foreground 1795-6, pencil and watercolour on paper

Turner, A Cottage and Limekiln at the Foot of a Rocky Cliff, probably on the Severn Estuary Pen and ink and watercolour, 7 13/16 x 11 inches (19.9 x 28 cm)

Turner A Lime Kiln by Moonlight 1799 watercolour

Turner Ploughing up Turnips near Slough (Windsor) 1809

Turner Bridport 1811.
This illustrates the blockage and therefore the self-sufficiency of the English.
Self-sufficiency is an importance concept as it relates to being able to feed the nation and therefore to landscape, particularly agricultural landscape.

Turner Leeds 1816.
This series of paintings and engravings was commissioned by Leeds Council. This has been described as full of energy although the workers at the right going home from work could be described as weary rather than lively.

Turner Colour Study: An Industrial Town at Sunset, Dudley c1830-2.
A picturesque and Romantic view of an industrial scene.

Turner Dudley, Worcestershire 1835

Turner The Fighting ‘Temeraire’ tugged to her last berth to be broken up 1838

Turner The Sun of Venice Going to Sea 1843

Turner Rain, Steam and Speed 1844

Constable Boat-Building Near Flatford Mill 1815

Constable Flatford Mill Scene of a Navigable River, 1816

Constable The Chain Pier, Brighton c 1827

George Cruikshank’s London Going out of Town cartoon 1829

Pugin Contrasts 1836

Ford Madox Brown, An English Autumn Afternoon, 1852-55

Ford Madox Brown Walton on the Naze 1859

Brown John Kay, Inventor of the Fly Shuttle AD. 1753, 1889, mural Great Hall of Manchester Town Hall, 1879-1893

Ford Maddox Brown Arkwright’s Mill 1878, also 1884 pencil

Ford Madox Brown, Bridgewater Canal, 1890


Images for Ann Bermingham’s Landscape and Ideology


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