Landscape painting is loved and admired by both the communities of artists and art appreciators alike. Landscape painting also happens to be one of the top selling subjects of painting. The origins of landscape painting can be traced back to olden days. Decorative landscapes used simply to enhance portraits were popular in 15th-century Italian painting and 18th-century English and French figure painting. Landscape painting came into being, as a seperate genre - existing for its own sake, during the 16th century and evolved into a popular primary theme of the 19th-century Impressionists. Descriptive landscapes, which served as background to a religious or mythological event, were dominant through the Renaissance.
Landscape was used by some painters to create a balanced composition: A horizon line might accentuate some vertical motion, while other natural forms might be used to create a frame around a subject embodying the mood of the landscape, but not defining that mood. However, it is important to remember that a landscape artist is not a camera that records whatever happens to be in front of the lens. He is not required to paint exactly what he sees. If he feels that there are too many trees on a hill, he can leave some of them out of his picture. If he thinks the trees are in the wrong place, he can move them around. If a riverbank looks too empty, he can add a few rocks that are not really there.
A landscape artist also has to decide what she wants us to see. If she is painting a field, she has to decide whether she wants us to see each blade of grass or whether she wants us to see the field as a smear of color. She can paint her landscape so that we see the field from above, as if we were looking down from an airplane, or from the ground, as if we were lying flat on a picnic blanket. Therefore - landscape painting is not just a mimetic exercise that required the artists to recreate with color and canvas, everything he sees around himself. It is a highly creative and imaginative painting style that brings out the best of the landscape artist.
Landscape Paintings are depictions of mountains, valleys, trees, rivers and forests. These paintings also include the sky in the background. Weather is an important facet of these compositions. Artists and viewers almost always equate landscape paintings with scenes of unspoiled beauty that's because industrial revolution and the fast disappearing wilderness were the main themes of landscape paintings.
Landscape paintings were characterized by meticulous detailing- from moss-covered rocks in clear streams to snowcapped mountains everything was documented.
One can trace the origin of the word “landscape” to the Dutch word “ landschap” which means a patch of cultivated land.
History of Landscape Painting
Pompeii and Herculaneum have 1st century remains of beautiful frescos of Roman landscapes
However,Landscape Painting came into being in the 15 th Century in Europe. It was established as as a setting for human activity, often a religious subject, such as the themes of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, the Journey of the Magi, or Saint Jerome in the Desert.
J.M.W. Turner was one of the greatest European painters of landscapes. His oils are somber in color but reveal his preoccupation with contrasted effects of light and atmospheric effects such as storms and rainbows.
The 19 th century saw another great painter of landscapes, John Constable . He is today valued as one of the most important English Painters. His oil paintings, with their free and vigorous brushwork were revolutionary at the time and they continue to interest artists, scholars and the general public.
In the 1820s American Landscape Paintings began to dominate the Art Scene. Artists began to equate the Nations unexploited wilderness with it's potential for growth. Hudson River school, a loosely knit group of American artists who actively painted landscapes between 1825 and 1875, was established during this period.
Hudson River School
The three main themes of the Hudson River school paintings were: discovery, exploration, and settlement. The paintings very deftly depicted the American landscape as a pastoral setting. Human beings and nature coexisted peacefully in these idyllic settings. The Paintings of the Hudson River School are characterized an inherent albeit idealistic understanding of nature. Hudson River school artists idealised nature as an ineffable manifestation of God, though the artists varied in the depth of their religious conviction. European masters such as Claude Lorrain and John Constable inspired them.
Famous Landscape Paintings
Listed below are some of the most important Landscape Paintings of all times.
The Hay Wain -1821 (John Constable)
This oil painting was completed in 1821 and is considered to be one of Constable's best works. It depicts a hay wain near Flatford Mill, Suffolk.
Seaport -1674 (Claude Lorrain)
No list of Landscape paintings will be complete without the inclusion of this Frech Master. This depiction of a seaport is one of his best loved works. What stands out in this painting is Lorrain's capacity to depict light in the most ethereal way.
The Voyage of Life Series- 1840 (Thomas Cole)
This series by the most famous proponent of the hudon river school is considered by mant to be his masterpiece. A voyager's journey through wilderness is captured in this series. Indeed the nature speaks eloquantly in these landscape paintings.