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Landscapes

People today love to travel. We drive clear across the country on dual ribbons of concrete with motor homes at speeds in excess of 70 mph.; and we think nothing of hopping only slightly larger winged craft to do the same at speeds nearly ten times that. We travel for business, for pleasure, or sometimes for no good reason at all. And if we worry about our safety and well-being in doing so, we hide it with jokes about the pilot napping while a flight attendant flies the plane. A thousand years ago, for the most part, only two types of people travelled--merchants, and pilgrims. Most walked. Only those going "first class" had horses, while those travelling in wagons would have been the equivalent of owning a private jet today. And it was dangerous. They travelled in groups to ward off robbers and cope with natural difficulties. Artists, being merchants of beauty, were among those quite likely to travel from time to time. And if you were a prominent artist such as Giotto, Verrocchio, or Leonardo, there was no need to recruit like-minded travellers in forming a caravan, your own workshop of apprentices and assistants was enough of a retinue to insure a safe passage.

Travel is said to be a broadening experience and it may well have served to inspire artists of the thirteenth and fourteenth century to a new type of painting, that being the landscape. Though it would be several hundred years before any serious efforts were made by the Dutch to paint landscapes for their own sake, it was during this period that an attention to the passing countryside began to creep into the backgrounds of master painters in their renderings of religious, architectural, or portrait subjects. The Sienese artist, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, was one of the first to incorporate the many sights he encountered in his frequent travels into his paintings. They range from cultivated hills and meadows, to farmhouses, to small towns, to large, medieval, walled cities. The works were somewhat idealised, the proportions slightly suspect, and the perspective often tortured, but his efforts, and those of other Sienese artists he inspired, leave us with some feeling for what the land and travelling over it must have been like.

Lorenzetti's landscape efforts can be seen in his painting, The effects of Good Government in town and country. Painted around 1338, some might even call it the world's first landscape painting, although it was really more allegory than landscape. And even before that, Giotto often incorporated landscape backgrounds into his frescos when he felt the need, such as his 1290-95 St. Francis giving his cloak to a poor knight. And in 1302, his Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), a fresco painting located in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, his garden in which Mary Magdalene first encounters the risen Christ, while not depicted in anything approaching a realistic manner, does manage to convey an amazing amount of detail including recognisable renderings of celery, parsley, and fennel. One has to wonder if the gradual increase in ease and frequency of travel, and the gradual emergence of landscape painting during the same period, were merely coincidental or if there may have been a cause and effect relationship instead. I wonder if landscape painters today travel more than other artists?

contributed by Lane, Jim


18 March 1999

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Works  
"Old Faithful" Geyser (Ansel Adams)
A Bigger Splash (David Hockney)
A Thicket of Deer at the Stream of Plaisir-Fontaine (Gustave Courbet)
A View of Thiers in the Auvergne (Pierre-Etienne-Théodore Rousseau)
Abbey in an Oak Forest (Caspar David Friedrich)
An Italian Landscape with Mountains and a River (Joseph Wright of Derby)
Autumn in Bavaria (Wassily Kandinsky)
Autumn: Banks of the Seine Near Bougival (Alfred Sisley)
Avenue of Chestnut Trees Near Le Celle St. Cloud (Alfred Sisley)
Bouquet with Flying Lovers (Marc Chagall)
Buttermere Lake: A Shower (Joseph Mallord William Turner)
Christina's World (Andrew Newell Wyeth)
Clearing in the Forest near Fontainebleau (Pierre-Etienne-Théodore Rousseau)
Connecticut Landscape (Max Weber)
Cornard Wood (Thomas Gainsborough)
Crows in the Wheatfields (Vincent van Gogh)
Death Rapids (Frank E. Schoonover)
Dedham Lock and Mill (John Constable)
Dolbadern Castle (Joseph Mallord William Turner)
El Capitan (Ansel Adams)
Entrance to the Village of Voisins (Camille Pissarro)
Evening (Caspar David Friedrich)
Evening (Frederick Maxfield Parrish)
Farmhouse (Jean-Baptiste Oudry)
Field of Poppies (Claude Monet)
Forest at Pontaubert (Georges Seurat)
Forest of Fontainebleau (Camille Corot)
Garden of Les Mathurins at Pontoise (Camille Pissarro)
Harbor in Normandy (Georges Braque)
Harvest (Charles-François Daubigny)
Hilltop (Frederick Maxfield Parrish)
L'Assemblée dans un parc (Jean-Antoine Watteau)
Lake Albano (Richard Wilson)
Landscape with Cattle (Charles-François Daubigny)
Landscape with Dancing Figures (Claude Gellée, Le Lorrain)
Landscape with Houses at Ceret (Juan Gris)
Landscape with Path (Albrecht Altdorfer)
Landscape with Rest in Flight to Egypt (Claude Gellée, Le Lorrain)
Landscape with the Funeral of Phocion (Nicolas Poussin)
Landscape with the Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah (Claude Gellée, Le Lorrain)
Merced River (Ansel Adams)
Misty Morning (Alfred Sisley)
Mont Sainte-Victoire above the Tholonet Road (Paul Cézanne)
Moonlight on the Yare (John (Old) Crome)
Morning in the Riesengebirge (Caspar David Friedrich)
Mr. and Mrs. Andrews (Thomas Gainsborough)
Niagara Falls (Thomas Cole)
On English Coasts (William Holman Hunt)
On the Oise (Charles-François Daubigny)
Pearblossom Highway (David Hockney)
Pêcheur au bord de la Loue (Gustave Courbet)
Pine Forest in Snow (Ansel Adams)
Romantic Landscape (Thomas Cole)
Seine at Courbevoie (Georges Seurat)
Shepherd in the Alps (Claude-Joseph Vernet)
Sky Above White Clouds I (Georgia O'Keeffe)
Small Meadows in the Spring (Alfred Sisley)
Snow at Veneux-Nadon (Alfred Sisley)
Solitude (Richard Wilson)
Southern (Tunisian) Gardens (Paul Klee)
Spring (Jean-François Millet)
Springtime (Pierre-Etienne-Théodore Rousseau)
St. Mary's Lake (Ansel Adams)
Sunrise (Frederick Maxfield Parrish)
Sunset Limited (Romare Bearden)
The Angelus (Jean-François Millet)
The Avenue at Meerdervoort (Aelbert Cuyp)
The Chemin de By through Woods at Roches-Coutaut: (Alfred Sisley)
The Chestnut Trees at Osny (Camille Pissarro)
The Flood-Gate at Optevoz (Charles-François Daubigny)
The Glebe Farm (John Constable)
The Hay Wain (John Constable)
The House of Père Gallien (Camille Pissarro)
The Large Pine, Saint-Tropez (Paul Signac)
The Mountain Brook (Albert Bierstadt)
The Oregon Trail (Albert Bierstadt)
The Passage of the St. Gothard (Joseph Mallord William Turner)
The Rest by the Stream (Alfred Sisley)
The Sower (Jean-François Millet)
The Starry Night (Vincent van Gogh)
The Wanderer (Jamie Wyeth)
Under the Birches (Pierre-Etienne-Théodore Rousseau)
Valley of the Yosemite (Albert Bierstadt)
View of Ceret (Chaim Soutine)
View of the Danube Valley near Regensburg (Albrecht Altdorfer)
View of Toledo (Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco))
Washington Square (Everett Shinn)
Water Lilies: Clouds (Claude Monet)
Winter Night (Frederick Maxfield Parrish)
Winter, 1946 (Andrew Newell Wyeth)
Woman Walking in an Exotic Forest (Henri Rousseau)
Woman with a Parasol (Claude Monet)
Wooded Lane (John (Old) Crome)
 

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