Monday, October 10, 2005

19th Century Landscape - The Language of Landscape

Week 2 - The Language of Landscape

The origins and the conventions of landscape, its iconography, style and especially its techniques. Introducing Crome, Girtin, Towne, Cotman, Morland, Turner and Constable.

  • Jacob van Ruisdael, Waterfall near a Village 1656
  • Poussin Landscape in the Roman Campagna (Landscape with Travellers Resting), c.1638-9
  • Poussin Landscape with a Man killed by a Snake 1648
  • Claude Hagar and the Angel 1646
  • Claude Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba 1648
  • Richard Wilson Lake Avernus and the Island of Capri c.1760
  • Richard Wilson Llyn-y-Cau, Caderldris c.1774
  • Thomas Gainsborough The Market Cart 1786
  • John Crome The Porlingland Oak c.l820
  • Crome Yarmouth Harbour - Evening 1817
  • Cotman from Liber Studiorum: A Series of Sketches and Studies Millbank on the Thames
  • Turner England: Richmond Hill, on the Prince Regent’s Birthday 1819
  • Turner Sun Rising Through Vapour, Fishermen Cleaning and Selling Fish 1807
  • Turner Dido Building Carthage 1815
  • Turner Walton Bridge on Thames, Surrey 1830 from Picturesque Views in England and Wales
  • Turner Ulysses deriding Polyphemus - Homer’s Odyssey 1829
  • Constable The Opening of Waterloo Bridge 1829
  • Constable The Haywain 1824
  • And drawings and watercolours in the collections of Tate Britain, Courtauld Institute and British Museum

The Hierarchy of genres

1.      History painting

2.      Portrait

3.      Genre

4.      Landscape

5.      Still life

Even though landscape was fourth it was popular in Britain and one third of all the pictures exhibited at the RA were landscapes.

There was a re-evaluation of nature during the nineteenth century and we will focus on Romanticism, Realism and Aestheticism. There was a reassessment of landscape across abroad cross section of peole and it develops a special place as people move to the cities. A vehicle for fears and fantasies of artists.

For next week find an image to illustrate the theme. Email me the title or the image. Give a five minute introduction to the background. Make it either mainstream or unusual. Englishness, patriotism, war (J.M. W. Turner's 'Ploughing Up Turnips, near Slough': the cultivation of cultural dissent, Art Bulletin, The,  Dec, 1995  by Michele L. Miller). Find out what the artists said, see Art in Theory. Also see Daniels, Landscape, Imagery and National Identity.

There is an exhibition of the works of Francis Towne, Tuesday 10 to Friday 25th November 2005, Colnagi, Old Bond Street

Poussin – theatrical, “repoussoir” is the theatrical term for anything that frames a landscape. Diminishing form – figures reducing into the background. Classical robes. Coulisse – flat is also a term for the wings of a stage. Water in the middle ground – gives depth, draws the eye in, and introduces a reliable horizontal surface. Aerial perspective.

Poussin, Landscape with Travellers Resting


Nicolas Poussin, Landscape with a Man killed by a Snake, probably 1648

Strong light and shade on every object to highlight objects. The eye moves along an S-shaped path. A sure eye that sees great distances. It enables to see further and more clearly than normal. A process of idealisation, an enobling visual experience. We stand above the landscape, monarch of all we survey. A “commanding view”.

All Poussin’s greens have gone very dark as he chose the wrong pigment.

An Arcadian light, soft and diffuse but strong shadows on objects.

A convenient tree shape (that is found in Italy) that echoes the clouds. Echoes are also found in the reflections in the water and the shape of the hills is echoed in other hills giving a sense of harmony. A lyrical or musical sensse. It is anchored by the horizontal and vertical lines.


Landscape with Hagar and the Angel, 1646, Claude, 1604/5? - 1682

The story is told in Genesis 16. The servant girl Hagar became pregnant by Abraham. She quarrelled with Abraham's wife Sarah, who was childless, and ran away. An angel met her by a spring in the wilderness. He told her that the child, Ishmael, would found a great tribe. Meanwhile she should return to Sarah (he points the way).

Claude composed this picture on principles of landscape construction developed earlier in the 17th century by Annibale Carracci and Domenichino. This uses a balanced composition, often with trees as a frame at the edge. Buildings are stabilisers (verticals) and distance markers. The foreground often includes figures from a story. The viewpoint is less elevated than that usual in, for example, 16th-century Flemish landscape. The individual items in classical landscape are based on observation, but their selection and ordering within the picture tended to improve on nature.

This work, much admired by Constable, was the favourite of Sir George Beaumont. When he gave his collection to the Gallery he asked to keep this painting until his death.

We see many similarities with the Poussin, trees, water, distance, biblical figures instead of mythological. Many other painters painted this way at the time.

Northern artists – Ruisdael

A Waterfall at the Foot of a Hill, near a Village, probably 1665-70, Jacob van Ruisdael, 1628/9? - 1682

On the hill is the spire of a village church, and other buildings. To the left sheep are being herded over a wooden bridge spanning a ravine. Ruisdael painted a number of imaginary mountainous landscapes with a waterfall rushing towards the lower edge of the picture. This subject was introduced into Dutch painting by Allart van Everdingen, who visited Scandinavia in 1644. On grounds of style the landscape has been dated to the second half of the 1660s, when Ruisdael was living in Amsterdam.

It is more closed in. There is a church giving the only visual anchor, a vertical line. There are echoes between the trees and clouds and the rocks and hills. There is a small cottage with a red roof. Idealising aspects missing but spacial aspects are the same.

English Painting


The reason for a lot of landscapes is the Grand Tour. Artists could make a living painting tourist spots. See Richard Wilson making a tourist spot look like a Poussin.

Richard Wilson  1713-1782,

Lake Avernus and the Island of Capri  circa 1760


The Grand Tour did not include Greek (because of the war or the difficulty of travel?) so Italy had to stand in for the whole classical world.

People identified areas of Britian as picturesque. See Wilson Llyn-y-Cau,



Richard Wilson, Llyn-y-Cau, Cader Idris (exhibited 1774), Wilson was Welsh and had returned from Rome, also known as Arthur’s seat, a site with mythological associations, “it wasn’t until the mid-19thC that they whole taste for classical landscape had disappeared.” It is not of volcanic origin but a cwm (aka corrie or cirque) being one of the classic landforms of glacial erosion.

It is Poussin-like but without trees and has the commanding view. One of the figures has a telescope looking out to Cardigan Bay and the area has mythological associations.

Another artist who adopted the conventions to Britain was Gainsborough.



The Market Cart, 1786. Trees block the view creating a more intimate feel. Note it is portrait format creating a more personal view. There is no escape, it is a contemporary view unlike the others, but timeless and idealised, a new mythology, a non-specific present, like a Flight into Egypt. We don’t have strong religious imagery in Britain but religious images survive in the literary tradition. A tricky topic, the religious association would elevate the picture. Note all the vegetables, not all in season at the same time creating a cornucopia.


Two painters we will cover in more detail later are:


John Crome, The Poringland Oak (circa 1818-20)

The oak was the pinnacle of tree portraiture for British artists. It was associated with the sturdy character of the British people, and the ships constructed from it defended their liberty. Crome's picture was exhibited in 1824 as a Study from Nature. It shows a noble tree at Poringland, a village near Norwich.

Crome admired the work of Thomas Gainsborough. Here he concentrates Gainsborough's woodland scenes to a single herotic motif, as if to emphasise a local ancestry for a national symbol. At the same time, the warm cloudy sky is based on the seventeenth-century Dutch painter, Aelbert Cuyp.

Crome founded the Norwich School in his home in 1803. We have an English, East Anglian even version of Arcadian light, it has a silvery quality.

John Sell Cotman, Greta Bridge, 1806-7


Crome Yarmouth Harbour - Evening 1817


Cotman from Turner’s (?) Liber Studiorum: A Series of Sketches and Studies Millbank on the Thames


Turner England: Richmond Hill, on the Prince Regent’s Birthday 1819

Turner painted this great panorama of the Thames after the Napoleonic War. It shows the view from Richmond Hill, looking west towards Twickenham, and brought Turner's early series of river scenes to a splendid conclusion. The scene is treated in the grand, classical manner of the seventeenth-century French artist, Claude Lorrain. It presents an Arcadian vision of English scenery, with an explicitly patriotic message in the reference to the birthday of the Prince Regent. The Prince's official birthday, 23 April, was also St George's Day (the patron saint of England) and Turner's own birthday


Turner Sun Rising Through Vapour, Fishermen Cleaning and Selling Fish 1807


Turner Dido Building Carthage 1815



Turner Walton Bridge on Thames, Surrey 1830 from Picturesque Views in England and Wales


Turner Ulysses deriding Polyphemus - Homer’s Odyssey 1829


Constable The Opening of Waterloo Bridge 1829


Has been painted within the Claudian conventions. A straight river has been made S-shaped by the use of jutting structures. The bridge replaces the distant hills.


Constable The Haywain 1824


A perfect representation of Claudian features.


There is a direct line from Roman painting to Constable to tourist photographs today. Are there other landscape viewing conventions? E.g. Japanese




Canvas, frame, stretcher with keys to tension. Oil paints, linseed oil, which hardens as it dries. Canvas is covered in white with rabbit skin glue. Tight weave or open weave. Priming thin or thick to hide the weave. Open weave was cheap but the artist may also have chosen it for effect.


Brushstrokes, dappled brushwork. Many of these paintings have been ironed, they stick a new canvas behind when the original canvas gets thin and then iron them together. This removes the spikiness from the surface. There is a Velasquez in the NG of Philip of Spain that has not been ironed and it has a spectacular surface.


Crome Plant Study, graphite.

Crome sketched from nature. Pencil good at recording shape and light and shade.

Crome Three Pigs is graphite on textured paper as he is interested in the form.


Turner sketch book for Richmond Hill. He is looking for layers in the landscape.



John Crome, Norwich River: Afternoon

Crome Landscape with Cottages. We know Crome used a camera obscura, did he use it for this one?


Watercolour, Turner’s sketchbook, pigment is stuck onto the paper using gum Arabic dissolved in water, whch dries. Turner used gouche for white rather than leave a reserve.



Cotman, On the Greta, 1805, watercolour and drawing, good for atmospheric effects.

Turner, The Thames from Richmond Hill, Preparatory Study, 1830-6. May have been done on the spot or in the studio to work out the compositional values.




Turner, Colour Beginning, 1819. Will be looking at them later.


Crome, Yarmouth Harbour, 1817.

Constable, Yarmouth Jetty, after 1823

Not the picture shown which was more a sketch, same title, dated 1818.


Crome, Landscape with Cottages – reworked so was probably a fantasy.

John Sell Cotman, 1782 – 1842. Clifton - from Liber Studiorium, 1838, etchings

Etching, Cotman, Liber Restorium.


Turner, Walton Bridge on Thames, Surrey, 1830 (sheep in river). From picturesque Views in England & Wales.


Crome landscape drawing.


Further Notes

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 Hooch; Jan Vermeer; Willem van de Velde (sea painter to Charles II of England); and Meindert Hobbema (influenced 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 imaginary place)

  • Landscape painting (the appreciation of nature for its own sake) really began with Claude Gellée (called Lorraine) (1604-1682) 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 luminous haze.

  • And Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665), 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". We see here a shift from far past and mythology to constructed landscape gardens.

1700-1800 Arcadian evolves into Georgic

  • 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.

  • Posed artistically.

  • 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 behaviour.

  • 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 wrote).

  • 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 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) 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 (see

  • "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 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 cultural movement.

  • 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.

Romantics -

  • Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge.

  • Constable, Turner, Fuseli, Blake, Samuel Palmer

  • Delacroix,

  • Friedrich, Overbeck

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 developed.

  • 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 one-off)

  • Puzzling farming scenes outside mainstream tradition.

  • 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 History painting

  • 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 Vernet.

  • 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 Hope poem).

  • 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 Tahiti.

  • John Robert Cozens (1752-97) poignant, poetic watercolours of Italy. Many painted for William Beckford Gothic novelist who build Fonthills.

1770-1800 Picturesque

  • 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) - landscape gardener.

  • "A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of The Sublime and Beautiful With Several Other Additions", Edmund Burke, see

  • Aesthetic raggedness.

  • 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, Wordsworth, see

  • 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 images.

  • Francis Towne, in the same regions in 1781, turns landscape into simple blocks of wash so bold that the effect is almost abstract.

  • 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 life), Constable.

  • 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.

1848-1852 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 ideal artist.

  • 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 Rousseau.

  • 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 modern movement

1870s Impressionism

English Monarchs

House of Tudor

  • Henry VII, Tudor (1485-1509)

  • Henry VIII (1509-47)

Hans Holbein (1497-1543), The Ambassadors 1533

  • 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 queen.

  • Mary I, Tudor (1553-58)

  • Elizabeth I (1558-1603)

House of Stuart

  • James I (1603-25)

  • Charles I (1625-49)

The Commonwealth

  • 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

  • Anne (1702-14)

House of Brunswick, Hanover Line

  • George I (1714-27)

  • George II (1727-60)

  • George III (1738- King 1760 -1820)

Enclosure Consolidation Act of 1801, see

  • George IV (1762 - Regent 1811 - King 1820 - 1830)

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, see

Poor Law Amendment of 1834, see Meant less eligibility and the "workhouse test" with relief only available in the workhouse which was increasingly stigmatised.

Victoria (1837-1901)

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)

French Leaders

Valois Dynasty

  • 1328 - 1589   Philip 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 III

Bourbon Dynasty

  • 1589 - 1610   Henry IV

  • 1610 - 1643   Louis XIII

  • 1643 - 1715   Louis XIV (the Sun King)

  • 1715 - 1774   Louis XV

  • 1774 - 1792   Louis XVI

First Republic

  • 1792 - 1795   National Convention

  • 1795 - 1799   Directory (Directors)

  • 1799 - 1804   Consulate

  • 1st Consul:  1799 - 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte

First Empire (emperors)

  • 1804 - 1814   Napoleon I

  • 1814 - 1815   Louis XVIII (king)

  • 1815 Napoleon I (2nd time)

Bourbons (restored)

  • 1814 - 1824   Louis XVIII

  • 1824 - 1830   Charles X (abdicated during July Revolution)


  • 1830 - 1848   Louis Philippe ("July Monarchy")

Second Republic (presidents, see The Revolutions of 1848 in France)

  • 1848 Louis Eugéne 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 - 1944   Henri Philippe Petain

Provisional Government (presidents)

  • 1944 - 1946   Charles de Gaulle

  • 1946 Three others

Fourth Republic (presidents) 1947 - 1959

Fifth Republic (presidents)

  • 1959 - 1969 Charles de Gaulle

  • 1969 - 1974 Georges Pompidou

  • 1974 - 1981 Valéry Giscard d'Estaing

  • 1981 - 1995 François Mitterand

  • 1995 - Today Jacques Chirac

Summaries and Articles on Landscape overview good summary of English watercolour poetic landscape artists. short biographies of some pre-victorian artists (Robert Adam, Thomas Bewick, William Blake, William Chambers, John Constable, Cotman, John Crome, George Dance, Eastlake, Etty, Gainsborough, Hogarth, Angelica Kauffman, John Nash, Reynolds, Romney, Soane, George Stubbs, Benjamin West, Richard Wilson) list of Norwich School painters (1805-1833 then less successfully 1839-1880s, originally friends of John Crome who met regularly)

Turner's Ploughing up Turnips, Slough

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.

Artist Biographies

Artists' Biographies

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