Using internet search engines and any other resources, find at least 12 exmples of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century landscape paintings. List all the commonalities you can find across your examples. Consider the same sorts of things as you did for the sketching exercise at the start of Part One. where possible, try to find out why the examples you found were pained (e.g. public or private commission). Your research should provide you with some examples of the visual language and conventions that were known to the early photographers.
Now try to find some examples of landscape photographs from any era that conform to these conventions.
Collate your research and note down your reflections in your learning log.
I used the the Rjiksstudio (Rijks Museum), the Metroplitan Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Institute of Chicago to obtain images for this exercise. All images are in the public domain now.
Gerard van Nijmegen was the son of artist Dionys van Nijmegen from whom he learnt his craft. Initially he began as a decorative artist, but quickly progressed to produce dramatic landscape and forest scenes in the romantic style, with much emphasis on atmosphere. His way of interpreting light was astounding and he was inspired by Jacob van Ruisdael. He painted scenery that was not native to the Netherlands – mountains landscapes, waterfalls and wild trees. He drew his inspiration for such paintings from two trips he made along the Rhine river. In the painting above Landscap in de storm features a mountainous landscape with a waterfall and a small village in the far distance. The representation of the storm is outstanding, the two figures are struggling to keep upright, the trees are bent over in the wind and the dark spectacular light creates a threatening atmosphere to the scene. He also made many drawings and etchings, illustrated books. He co-managed an art association in Rotterdam, Nature and Art. His work can be seen in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Museum Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans van Beunging and the Rijksmuseum Twenthe.
This painting is the earliest known painting of the bridge. It was made from two sketches Jongkind had made. He took certain liberties with the view, in that the bridge actually has five arches and not four. He eliminated the Place Dauphine and brought the Notre Dame Cathedral in closer in this view that it actually was in reality. Emile Vial was the first known owner in the provenance of this work, but it is not known when or from whom he acquired the work.
Cypresses featured quite a lot in Van Gogh’s work. Van Gogh regarded the work above as one of his “best” summer landscapes. It is thought that he worked from far to near in his paintings with each area overlapping slightly. He uses thick swirling brush strokes to represent the clouds and mountains, narrow, flickering strokes for the cypress trees, thick paint that is applied in peaks for the olive tree and hatching for the wheat stalks. The original owner of the painting was van Gogh’s brother, Theo van Gogh who lived in Paris. The painting was sent to him on September 28, 1889.
This work was commission in 1868 by the industrialist Frédéric Hartmann and is from a series depicting the four seasons. The painting shows the aftermath of the harvest, the gleaners have left and the sheep are left to graze the stubbled fields. Beyond the haystacks lie the plain of Chailly and the rooftops of Barbizon. The loose, sketchlike finish is characteristic of Millet’s late style: patches of the dark lilac-pink ground color are deliberately exposed, and the underdrawing is visible, particularly in the outlines of the haystacks and the sheep. Three of the works have this characteristic dark lilac-pink ground, while one has a yellow-ochre ground.
This painting was gifted by Seurat to Alexandre Séon, Paris. The view of this painting was made on the same stretch of rive that Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières (1883–84, National Gallery, London) and A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (1884–86, Art Institute of Chicago) we made. The view is from the island of La Grande Jatte to the roof tops of the Parisian suburb of either Asnières or Courbevoie across the Seine. Seurat’s painting technique is known as Pointillism.
The Seine at Chato is rated as being one of the finest and best preserved of Renoir’s landscapes from the 1870’s. It was acquired from the painter by Paul Durand-Ruel, the greatest dealer of impressionist painting in 1891 and sold on in 1900. The little railway bridge in the painting was used to identify village of Chatou where Renoir painted during the 1870s – 1880s. The view point of this painting makes the viewer feel as if he/she is floating in the water, there are no footpaths visible. The colours are quite bold almost Provençal-like. No human figures feature in this painting which further seems to emphasis with detached, floating effect.
Although he lived in Brussels, Willem Roelofs is considered the one of the doyen of the Hague School. During the summer he would make oil sketches of the landscape around The Hague, from which he created paintings during the winter in his Brussels studio. In the painting above is a representation of the road from The Hague to the village of Stompwijk, featuring a mother and child walking along it. A pair of ducks are featured in the foreground near the canal’s edge. An open swing bridge across the canal prevents cattle from escaping the grazing land and in the distance is a house behind some trees.
Joseph Légaré is noted to be the first Canadian-born landscape painter, as well as for his images of significant cultural events and religious scenes and paintings of First Nations peoples. This painting bears a remarkable resemblance to John Constable’s The Haywain. The placement of the buildings on the left of the frame is quite similar as is the foreground and river. The main differences are the types of trees and slight rolling hills in Légaré’s work, as well there is a bridge leading over the river to the distant fields.
My collection of images would not be complete without a Canadian winter scene. This painting was gifted to Thomas Dillon Tims by the artist. Krieghoff is well known for his depictions of the First Nations peoples and the activities and character of the French-Canadian settlers. In these paintings the clothing and supporting details were painted in great detail, while the facial features were rather generalised.
Albert Bierstadt is better know for his paintings of the American West, but he also created New England landscapes, particularly of the White Mountains, as seen above. This painting was declared to be his best work by critics and his realistic use of contrast, light and shadow contribute to the almost photographic quality of this painting.
This is a view painted of The Hague from a skip in the seventeenth century style. On the left is a windmill alongside the dirt road next to the canal with a couple wandering down the path. A man stands on the bridge in the middle ground fishing over the side. On the right is a barge in the water. This work was made for the unveiling of Rembrandt’s statue in 1852.
This is a beautiful painting of Niagara Falls looking onto the Canadian side (the horseshoe shape falls are on the Canadian border). Thomas Cole of the Hudson River School of landscape painting was well known for his paintings of the American wilderness. Instead of depicting the scene as it realistically appeared at that time (hotels, factories and tourists abounded that area), Cole chose to represent the scene in its unspoilt beauty as it most probably would have looked before man’s intervention.
- In the majority of the images I found the sky plays a huge role in setting the mood for the image, even in Mountain Brook where only a tiny sliver of blue is visible in the forest scene. One could argue that the almost absence of the sky lends a rather foreboding atmosphere to the image.
- In all but one (Renoir’s The Seine at Chatou) the land features in some extent in the foreground. In Renoir’s painting the land is way off in the far distance and is almost imperceptible, which creates a rather unstable image.
- Ten of my images featured water; eight featured people; six featured animals; eight featured buildings of some sort and four featured boats.
- The majority had leading in lines featuring either water or pathways.
- Most of the paintings have some kind of solid structure rectangular shape, e.g. buildings which provide a sense of solidity, or a strong vertical e.g. tree near the edge of the frame to that dominate the image, following the Gestalt Law of Good Continuation.
- Some of the paintings have strong diagonals (see van Nijmegen’s painting above) which are highly expressive, providing tension in the image, compared to the diagonals in Bierstadt’s image which are much quieter and even less so in Seurat’s image.
- A few of the paintings use internal framing in order to draw the viewer’s eye into the frame.
- van Nijmegen, Légaré, Krieghoff, Bierstadt and Springer all make use of chiaroscuro to draw the viewer’s attention to the focal point in the painting.
- The majority of the paintings have their horizon lines either in the top or bottom third of the frame. A couple have the horizon line in the middle of the frame.
Examples of Landscape Photographs
Horizon line runs through the middle of the frame, water, Gestalt Law of Good Continuation.
Strong diagonals, low horizon line.
Gestalt Law of Good Continuation in the bank of trees, diagonal lines leading in from right bottom corner, water.
Water, horizon just slightly above middle of frame, linear movement in water ripples lead eye from right to left over the Falls.
Diagonals, horizon on top third of frame, repetitive pattern of hay bales in field.
Gerard van Nijmegen [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_van_Nijmegen [Accessed 24 September, 2017]
Johan Barthold Jongkind – The Pont Neuf [online] The Met. Available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436787 [Accessed 24 September, 2017]
Vincent van Gogh – Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889 [online] The Met. Available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436535 [Accessed 24 September, 2017]
Jean-François Millet – Haystacks: Autumn, ca. 1874 [online] The Met. Available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/437097 [Accessed 24 September, 2017]
Georges Seurat – Gray Weather, Grande Jatte, ca. 1886–88 [online] The Met. Available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/438015 [Accessed 24 September, 2017]
Pierre-Auguste Renoir – The Seine at Chatou [online] Dallas Museum of Art. Available at: https://collections.dma.org/artwork/4195992 [Accessed 24 September, 2017]
Willem Roelofs – Landscape in the Environs of The Hague [online] Rijks Museum. http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.collect.5273 [Accessed 24 September, 2017]
Joseph Légaré – Landscape ca. 1840-1849 [online] National Gallery of Canada. Available at: https://www.gallery.ca/collection/artwork/landscape-298 [Accessed 24 September, 2017]
Cornelius Krieghoff – White Horse Inn by Moonlight [online] National Gallery of Canada. Available at: https://www.gallery.ca/collection/artwork/white-horse-inn-by-moonlight [Accessed 24 September, 2017]
Albert Bierstadt – Mountain Brook, 1863 [online] Art Institute of Chicago. Available at: http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/146701?search_no=10&index=69 [Accessed 24 September, 2017]
Cornelis Springer – View of The Hague from the Delftse Vaart in the Seventeenth Century, 1852 [online] Rijks Museum. Available at: http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.10548 [Accessed 24 September, 2017]
Thomas Cole – Distant View of Niagara Falls1830 [online] Art Institute of Chicago. Available at: http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/90048?search_no=4&index=24 [Accessed 24 September, 2017]