The Story of Landscape Paintings

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In the early stage of art history, landscape paintings were important like in now a days. From the 19th century, landscape paintings developed to be a popular art subject and got its position in people’s life.

From the last half of the 19th century, the European art developed from landscape painting which was looked as a kind of low grade art subject. And the exploration in landscape paintings laid the groundwork for following modern art.

Early in the beginning of the 19th century, landscape painting had got amazing exploration before it reached the peak period in the 2nd and the 3rd Empire times. Landscape painting originated from the late 18th century, the oil paintings awaked people's feeling to nature. Landscape artists advocated that art should be returning back to nature, to the primitive status without any idealization. In 1816, the academic school organized a landscape painting class. The class got Roman landscape painting prize in 1863 and received the endorsement.

In the middle of the 19th century, landscape painting became a popular art subject among whole people. Almost all the artists tried landscape painting because it is more free compare with historical paintings. More and more artists exhibited their landscape works in art salons. But for getting approve, they must provide historical, pastoral scene or at least idealized landscape scene in their paintings. Those artists who depicted the real nature were not approved for the exhibitions. Étienne Pierre Théodore Rousseau, one of the most important artists in Barbizon art school, was rejected many times between 1836 and 1848. After the Great Revolution in 1848, he was appointed to be the judge of the art salon. This appointment meant that some people had realized the importance of his art practice. Because after that impressionism artists were not accepted by official organizations; though they had once been accepted. At the end of 19th century, the art association showed their opposite attitude for shake traditional painting concept.

Impressionism landscape paintings, though had very important position in art history and landscape painting, it could not cover the grace of symbolism landscape paintings. Because the Symbolism landscape paintings brought people another kind of feeling to nature, and it was a unique expression to nature.

Theodore Rousseau

Theodore Rousseau - The end of autumn
The end of autumn
Theodore Rousseau - The great oaks of old bas breau 1864
The great oaks of old bas breau 1864

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot

The tradition of French landscape painting

The French landscape painting in the 19th century kept distinguishes between telling a religion story in a hero landscape and the idealized pastoral scene. This distinguish covered another phenomenon that is shading the structure and the painting composition by the changes of bright and dark, influenced by the Italian oil painting style, it was different from the expressive painting art.
If we say the Pastoral landscape painting attached importance to the hero scenery, to such an extent as to 1850 it still took the dominant position in art field, then we say the distinguish between Italian oil painting style and Northern painting school born the great artist Paul Cezanne. Georges Michel was a representative artist in the Northern art school. He was very sensitive about the changes of light and the atmosphere in his painting art. After him, another great artist Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot(1796-1875) gave landscape painting more historical and idealized features. And from 1830, the influence from the 17th century's Dutch artists came into being. Especially Jacob Van Ruisdael, Meindert Hobbema, Paulus Potter, Jan Van Goyen. The influence showed in Barbizon School paintings more directly. Generally speaking, it was passed through England artists. The England artists influenced Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) first, his painting technique about light, color tone, spot light etc, made him became the forerunner of the art in his times.

Paul Cezanne

Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael

Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael - Tower mill at wijk bij duurstede netherlands 1670
Tower mill at wijk bij duurstede netherlands 1670

Meindert Hobbema

Meindert Hobbema - The alley at middelharnis
The alley at middelharnis

English Painting Art School

The English landscape painting school which took shape in the early stage of the 19th century influenced the impressionism art decisively. Especially the three greatest artist, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1875), John Constable (1776-1837) and Richard Bonington (1802-1828). The influence came from Eugene Delacroix, (Richard Bonington's friend and the worshipper of John Constable). Constable exhibited his oil painting The Hay Wain (1821) in London, this landscape painting was regarded as the model of the young artists. Delacroix soon became Joseph Turner's supporter when then met in the first time. Because of war, when Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot exiled abroad into England, the influence became more directly.

Generally speaking, English Art School released the landscape painting from idealization and the arrangement of human. Landscape paintings were free from myth and history stories as well. Meanwhile the English Painting School established the natural attitude based on feeling. This is the experience foundation which could answer the light and color requirement.

Joseph Mallord William Turner

John Constable

John Constable - Salisbury cathedral from the meadows 1831
Salisbury cathedral from the meadows 1831
John Constable - Stratford mill
Stratford mill
John Constable - The cornfield 1826
The cornfield 1826
John Constable - The hay wain 1821
The hay wain 1821
John Constable - View of salisbury cathedral from the bishop s grounds
View of salisbury cathedral from the bishop s grounds

French artists appreciated John Constable's naturalism and his sincerely feeling which revealed in his landscape paintings. They appreciated his enthusiasm about the changing of nature. Constable finished his paintings in studio, but the main part were finished outside of his studio. The fresh atmosphere and free skills from his paintings inspired other artists. The brushwork showed artist's gestures—the exquisite white color, palette knife traces, etc. They love sketches, in front of a semi-finished painting, they were amazed by the different colors that were to compose the grass land.

Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-1828) was regarded a genre artist, though his landscape paintings were hardly valuated. His landscape paintings depicted vast and bright sky, moist and windy environment that bring us the feeling about the space and light. Richard Parkes Bonington's painting Parlerre d eau a versailles 1826 (The Louver Museum) showed his features apparently.

Richard Parkes Bonington

Richard Parkes Bonington - Parlerre d eau a versailles 1826
Parlerre d eau a versailles 1826

Joseph Mallord William Turner is the artist most close to impressionism. He connected Claude Lorrain and Claude Monet. For the former, Turner admitted he had benefit from the Lorrain. For the later, Claude Monet, who depicted the light with rail way and bridge, Monet give the painting Paradise atmosphere, this style influenced Turner deeply.

Claude Lorrain

Claude Lorrain - Embarkation of st paula romana at ostia
Embarkation of st paula romana at ostia
Claude Lorrain - Landscape with the flight into egypt 1647
Landscape with the flight into egypt 1647

Claude Monet

The English water color paintings influenced the contemporary artists and the following impressionist artists with the free and light painting skills. The unique view point was regarded as the most modern style arts.

The Barbizon School

In 1836, étienne Pierre Théodore Rousseau lived in the Fontainbleau Forest, here is not far from Marlotte. Early from 1830, there were some artists lived in seclusion in these villages. Rousseau was the most important artist among them. He cared about the true nature and proposed to get in nature directly.

Those artists were born in the first decade of the 19th century: Narcisse Diaz de la Pena (1807-1876), Constant Troyon (1810-1865), Jules Dupre (1811-1878), Charles Jacques (1813-1878), Jean-Francois Millet (1814-1875) which stayed in Barbizon in 1849, and Gustave Courbet which sometime came here to paint. Those artists were influenced by Dutch landscape paintings, especially English landscape paintings, gave up the traditional principles of landscape paintings which advocated that landscape paintings were there inner status turning into oil on canvas. Although the all beautify the nature, but they didn't paint the nature idealized. Every artist had a painting subject which he was good at: étienne Pierre Théodore Rousseau enjoyed painting woods and leaves. Jules Dupre liked painting sky. Narcisse Diaz de la Pena liked painting bush, he tried to depict the light shinning with changeable skills. Constant Troyon painted bulls and cows. Charles Jacques loved to paint sheep and hens. But they all desalted the painting subjects. They observed nature sincerely, the explored the light change carefully. They painted in Barbizon, they had ever paint together with the young impressionism artists in Honfleur.

Jean-Francois Millet

Jean-Francois Millet - The angelus 1859
The angelus 1859
Jean-Francois Millet - The gleaners 1857
The gleaners 1857

Gustave Courbet

Gustave Courbet - River landscape 1869
River landscape 1869
Gustave Courbet - Shelter of deers at plaisir fontaine creek 1866
Shelter of deers at plaisir fontaine creek 1866
Gustave Courbet - The hunted deer spring 1867
The hunted deer spring 1867

Jules Dupre

Jules Dupre - Landscape with cows 1870
Landscape with cows 1870
Jules Dupre - Shipping in a breeze
Shipping in a breeze

The Honfleur Painting School

Honfleur Art School was created by Eugene Boudin's pushing. It is also named as Ecole de Saint-Simeon, a hotel name those artists often lived in. Some of them once lived in Barbizon, like Diaz, Troyon, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot,Charles Francois Daubigny (1817-1878), and Gustave Courbet which Boudin got to know in 1859.

In 1858, the young artist Claude Monet came to learn from Corot, which was named as Kingdom of sky. He painted on seashore, he tried to depict the changing of the environment. Boudin said that painting on the scene had a kind of strength, the brushwork had life, you couldn't find that in a studio.

From 1863, the Dutch artist Barthold Jongkind came to Honfleur once a year. Edouard Manet regarded him as the father of modern landscape paintings. In 1865 Barthold Jongkind got to know Boudin. He taught Boudin to how to paint the spontaneity and fresh atmosphere like the in his watercolor paintings. In 1887, Boudin admitted he learnt many from Barthold Jongkind: the more people see his watercolor paintings, the more people ask themselves how to paint like these. He painted the sky fluidity, density and orderly, his brushstroke was incredible. Those artist explored the change of nature. They studied environment and light phenomenon, their practice about oil paintings brought them the fame, pre-impressionism.

Eugene Boudin

Eugene Boudin - Beach scene at trouville 3
Beach scene at trouville 3
Eugene Boudin - Cows in a field
Cows in a field
Eugene Boudin - Laundresses on the banks of the touques 6
Laundresses on the banks of the touques 6
Eugene Boudin - Portrieux fishing boats at low tide
Portrieux fishing boats at low tide
Eugene Boudin - Venice 1895 1
Venice 1895 1

Provencal Art School

Provencal Art School was close to the Realism artists and the Barbizon School artists. They painted out door of the south of France, they tried to express the sharp light contrast. Among them, the most important artist was Paul Guigou (1834-1871), "Paris, Musée d'Orsay", This painting showed his bright color tone and his oil color skill which was common used by impressionist artists. Guigou was regarded as Emile Loubon's (1809-1864) student. As a friend of Barbizon School, especially a friend of Constant Troyon, Lougon urged to pay more attention to around environment and paint the things you'd ever see in your childhood, painting the landscape paintings and articles that ever brought you infer feelings.

About between 1862 and 1863, there were 2 private art associations, the Switzerland Art Association and the Gleyre Art Association were often of patronage by some artists that were named as Post-impressionism: Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne, Armand Guillaumin, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, etc. Soon, some new artist joined into the association: Fantin Latour, Berthe Morisot, Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, etc. After the Rejected Artists Exhibition and the The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l'herbe), 1863, those artists gathered around Edouard Manet. In 1866 or between 1866 and 1870, they had party in Guerbois café, meanwhile, some writers, critics, photographers joined them as well.

Especially in 1870, after Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro came back from England, the Impressionism movement was well developed. The Impressionism was originated from the western side of River Seine, it got its name from Monet's painting Impression Sunrise. It was in the magazine Charivari, the artist & poet Louis Leroy used the term Impressionism first when he mentioned the art Exhibition. He showed some positive affirmation to the art movement.

But it was far to achieve all people's favored. Emile Cardon criticized that this art school cancelled the line and color, the most important elements in fine art.

From 1874 to 1886, the Impressionist artist held 8 times art exhibitions. In the early 80s, an argument broken out, Monet, Renoir, Gustave Courbet and Alfred Sisley didn't take part in the last Impressionist exhibition.

Claude Monet

Edouard Manet

Alfred Sisley

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Berthe Morisot

Fantin Latour

Henri Fantin-Latour - Bathers i
Bathers i
Henri Fantin-Latour - Bouquet of diverse flowers 1881
Bouquet of diverse flowers 1881
Henri Fantin-Latour - Roses and lilies 1888
Roses and lilies 1888

Edgar Degas

Impressionist Landscape Paintings

The most unique feature of Impressionist is painting outside. Artists depicted the instant feature of nature, especially the light feature. Early from 1857 Charles-Francois Daubigny began painting on his small boat which was named le Botin, maybe with Eugene Boudin too. They are forerunners of the artists who painted outside. But, they never finish a painting outside. For Impressionism artist, the matter is not to paint a sketch, color or to work out a sketch by oil then finish the painting in studio. The matter is they need to express the instant feature of nature. Because the nature is changing every minute. Painting by nature, that means they need to leave the studios, or open bright light or dark light interior. They must bring out the easels, small piece canvas, and the pigments, they must sit at a place where they can get near to a active and amazing nature scene.

Paint in such a method outside was a new art activity. They means the artists accepted the influence from the custom world, they painted based their visible scene and feeling. They painted by their impression instead of the common rules.

They painted the instant features of nature: the wet environment, the fresh air, the twinkle sky or the sky with rainbow, they painted the sea line and the horizon, sun and light, sky and cloud, the wind about the water, the fog, the rain, the snow scene, etc. Anyway, they painted all the articles that alive and living through. But the most important explore was still the changing element, the light. This point urged Claude Monet to paint the poplar, rice stacks series. Meanwhile he began to study the changing of an article in different time, different seasons and climate. In Paris and Normandy, the sunlight changed very fast, right here, influenced by the climate, the impressionist held their oil painting exhibition on 1870s. Especially after 1872, even in 1874, the Impressionism held the first art exhibition, then took its form and continued to 1886.

For reaching their target, impressionists finally find a method which could express the changing of nature in their sense.

First, because they painted in sun shine and felt the stimulus of light, that lead them to use bright and strong color tone. Edouard Manet was the first artist who faded the color on painting board. He didn't tone the color like Romanticism artists. He tried to narrow the color range, and used the bright color tone skillfully, like in painting Olympia. He abandoned volume, light and shade and not to use black. Instead of using black, Manet used grey and brown to paint shade, because the shade got reflecting light.

For depicting the moving and changing articles, impressionist adopted breaking brush stroke and parallel color tone. Instead of mixing colors on a color palette, they get the color result by using one color on another. They used red, yellow and blue, the three basic colors as basic to crash complementary colors like green, purple, orange and white. About the parallel strokes, the starting color was sharp. And a kind of purple was mixed from red and blue, blue and yellow are two complementary colors. The artists painted the spare space by the complementary color, then achieved the painting result by the two colors' combination.

The impressionist discovered the color principles instinctively. And it was approved scientific. Though their painting skills were splendid, but we shouldn't neglect the portrait contains in landscape paintings. The landscape paintings depicted the life changes after the industrial revolution. They are not meaningless.

Claude Monet

Edouard Manet

The portrait content

Impressionist art is a kind of Paris art, because residents of a city are sensitive to the beauty of the city. Meanwhile it is a kind of country art. In the country, even the urban of Paris, it was the modern urban around Paris. We can simply distinct two kinds of intention among impressionism art: one kind express the modern life and phenomenon, like Claude Monet (1840-1926), Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), Pierre-Auguste Renoir(1841-1919); another kind intended to express the stable image of tradition. Like Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) and some of his pupils, especially Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) and Paul Gauguin (1848-1903).

Impressionist artists adapt the succinct method to express the visible scene. They often choose the most popular scenery to paint, which were depicted very amazing by tourist guid