Landscape Paintings -
Vast Seascapes, Majestic
or Idyllic Lakes
Landscape paintings can provide you with a spectacular view of nature in any room. Human’s innate awe of the natural world has ensured the perpetual popularity of landscape paintings among both artists and collectors, while different artistic movements have resulted in various styles within the landscape genre. These range from classical Greco-Roman-inspired works to the Impressionistic to the surreal and abstract.
Landscape backgrounds have appeared in paintings since the Middle Ages, but did not emerge as a specific genre until the beginning of the seventeenth century. Dutch painters were responsible for the development of very subtle realist techniques for capturing light and weather with paint. These paintings were frowned upon by the French Academy, who saw scenes simply copying nature as lacking imagination. Instead, they lauded the landscapes of artists such as Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin; they did not attempt to capture a true landscape, but rather to compositionally organize nature in order to produce an emotional response from the viewer. From the late 18th century through the 19th century, landscape paintings came to be linked with technical advances in painting, as the Impressionists in France and the naturalistic scenes of John Constable pushed the boundaries of the genre. By the beginning of the 19th century, the English artists held in highest esteem were landscapists, such as Constable and J.M.W. Turner. Ironically, though, they had difficulty selling their works in the art market, which still preferred history paintings and portraits. The tradition of contemporary landscape painting has been explored by artists such as Milton Avery, Peter Doig, David Hockney and Andrew Wyeth.
Landscape paintings refer to the depiction of natural scenery, such as bodies of water, mountains, forests, and valleys. The sky is usually a main element, and weather often plays a key role in the overall total composition. A landscape painting can be created entirely from an artist’s imagination, or can be copied directly from nature. A landscapist can evoke mood with light and shadow, or they can carefully organize the details in a composition to create a sense of balance or disruption. Details, such as the placement of trees, people, or even clouds, can affect the overall mood of the composition. For instance, the Romantics would alter nature’s appearance in order to evoke a different emotional reaction from a viewer. “En plein air” is a French expression which means, “in the open air,” and refers to the act of painting out of doors. In the mid- 19th century, working outside in natural light became very important to the Barbizon School and Impressionist artists. This was made possible by the introduction of paint in tubes in the 1870’s, which allowed artists to more easily bring their painting supplies out of the studio. Before the use of paint tubes, artists had to make their own paints by grinding and mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil.
For Landscape Paintings
There have been many groups of artists that have dedicated their careers to depicting nature in their art. Jean-Baptiste-Corot and the Barbizon School helped to establish a French landscape tradition in the 19th century. Theodore Rousseau is considered the most important member of the Barbizon School; he is known for his capacity to lend his trees a sense of vitality through the use of careful brushstrokes. The Hudson River School was a 19th century American art movement comprised of landscape painters who were influenced by romanticism. They depicted the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains. They created monumental works that sought to capture the natural beauty of the landscape. Thomas Cole is considered the leader of the movement. John Constable’s “Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows” (1829-34) is a famous oil landscape painting. Often considered his masterpiece, the rainbow is a symbol of hope after a storm. Constable often painted oil sketches outdoors, as he was very concerned with the elements of sky, light, and atmosphere. Another famous landscape painting is “Rain, Steam and Speed-The Great Western Railway” (1844) by J.M.W. Turner, which affords the viewer a magnificent impression of speed in the 19th century. Other famous landscapists include Caspar David Friedrich, Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Edward Hopper, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Gustave Courbet, Eugene Delacroix, Thomas Gainsborough, Winslow Homer, Diego Rivera, and Frederic Edwin Church.