Landscape, Art And Society In Britain

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Landscape, Art and Society in Britain C.1750-1850

Landscape, Art and Society in Britain C.1750-1850


The term landscape has two main referents. The first is a territory that the eye can comprehend in a single view, such as those celebrated in the English Lake District. The second is a work of art that, usually, depicts a real-world landscape, such as the paintings of John Constable, or, with the coming of photography, the landscapes of Ansel Adams. At times, landscapes have been imaginary, or even fantastic; and they regularly blend an ideal with the real. Landscape is portrayed in literature, word pictures inviting response.

Landscape art was much esteemed in the eighteenth century. Thomas Gainsborough, Richard Wilson, and Joseph Wright of Derby are English representatives. In the nineteenth century, interest remained strong, for example, in John Ruskin's Modern Painters (1843), praising especially the work of Joseph Mallord William Turner. Turner and Constable flourished at the turn of the centuries. The Romantic Movement underlay much of this continuing interest.

Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)

The life of Joseph Mallord William Turner, "the painter of light", was characterized by a complete devotion to his art. His temperament is tough and robust, it was an insatiable traveller travelling tirelessly, often alone, Europe, particularly Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland. Everywhere, like a reporter, he designed and reproduced using watercolours, landscapes, sites and monuments. Even in childhood, the boy showed an extraordinary aptitude for drawing. He spent whole days beside the Thames, endlessly drawing itself the river and its banks. Thus, the main theme of his work (landscape), the artist found another in adolescence.

Certain landscapes have an archetypal appeal, especially semi wooded savannah-type landscapes, where there is a blending of prospect, open vistas, and refuge, places of retreat and safety, a contrast of the horizontal and the vertical, with interest in both foreground and background. Some claim that these are innate preferences, going back to the environments in which primitive humans evolved. Statistical studies of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century landscape paintings find these features with high frequency.

Themes and Works

Talking about Turner is talking about a genius of painting, was an extraordinary watercolorist and someone once said "looks like God." The popular confusion between genius and insanity is clearer than ever in the biography of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). Academic painter at the beginning, Turner was slowly but inexorably moving towards a free-style, atmospheric, sometimes even sketching abstraction, which was misunderstood and rejected by some critics who had been admiring decades. It is time to go for recent experiences. Initially, the artist was limited to his native country. In 1792, 1795 and 1798's, he wandered through the mountains of Wales, in 1794, mastered the midlands of England, and in 1797, he worked in northern England. The surviving diary entries suggest that, in addition to beautiful scenery, the traveller interested in history and current state of affairs in each of these regions.

After a second trip to Italy in 1829, Turner has the best of his historical paintings, "Ulysses taunts ...
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