The Story of Landscape Paintings

The Story of Landscape Paintings
April 15, 2015 Ozair Akhtar

The artistic illustration of natural topography such as valleys, rivers, mountains, particularly a broad view of the subject is called Landscape Paintings. According to the fine art Landscape is taken from a Dutch word ‘landschap’, which is defined as a depiction of any scenic view in the form of painting. The background in the landscape paintings is an essential element which is usually characterized by the majestic skies and weather being an important compositional component. “Landscape” was introduced in the modern English as landskipand was first used for paintings in 1598. Landscape illustrations can be imaginary or an imitation of reality with diversified accuracy.


Landscape is now one of the most prominent subjects in art. Due to the composite characteristics, Landscape paintings never received much appreciation but eventually flourished as one of the most beautiful art forms. In the Western art, Landscape paintings were introduced after the period of Renaissance. In the early sixteenth century the scenic backgrounds were included as futile Landscapes with a historical message in it. The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci and Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli are few of the examples of similar paintings. Albrecht Altdorfer’s Landscape with Footbridge is said to be the first Landscape painting which was delivered in 1520. The Points discussed below will highlight the story and importance of Landscape paintings.

  1. Medieval– The fascination for Landscape paintings vanished from the art of the medieval time and later it existed only in works like Utrecht Psalter. Giotto di Bondone with other several artists including his followers started incorporating and acknowledging the beauty of nature in their work. Earlier in the 14th century landscapes were used as the conventional background element in the paintings and by the early 15th century, the style of landscape painting was successfully accepted as a new genre around Europe.
  2. Renaissance – Painting Landscapes in the background became the conventional approach and was skillfully executed during the Renaissance period. The prominent practitioners who frequently used the landscape paintings and hues during the late 15th century include Albercht Durer, Leonardo da Vinci and Fra Bartolommeo. Joachim Patinir from Netherlands introduced “world landscape” which was characterized by an aerial view and the beautiful panoramic landscape. As the landscape paintings were exhibited, artists from several countries started using the technique to master the style of small and world landscapes.
  3. 17th and 18th Century – Landscape paintings developed rapidly in the 17th century in Italy and Netherlands. After winning the war for independence against Spain, artists from Netherlands gave up the conventional style of painted religious figures and incorporated more of Dutch Landscapes. Italy with its alluring Landscapes inspired several other painters from Netherlands. A series of exhaustive background landscapes were seen in many of the paintings by Leonardo da Vinci of Italy. 17th and 18th century saw the substantial rise of this style of paintings which were characterized by precise methods of illustrating the chromatic weather and light. The downfall of the conventional religious paintings along with the mesmerizing Romanticism gave Landscape paintings the required appreciation and a more honorable place in the coming centuries.
  4. 19th and 20th Century – The art of Landscape paintings flourished enormously after the Romantic Movement which was considered as an unconventional style earlier. Jean Baptiste along with several other painters introduced one of the most influential styles in the late 1800s which was prominently incorporated for a century. In the Late 19th century the use of the rustic nature and native landscapes became conventional as a style in the Landscape paintings. The distinctive Hudson School established in the 19th century in the United States is a magnificent example of how Landscape paintings flourished during the 19th and 20th
  5. Photography –Photographs could retain every single detail of the surrounding Landscapes and hence they were highly appreciated. Photographs provided artists with enough space to experiment and illustrate the landscapes with a more creative approach. The style of incorporating the social view of the landscapes also flourished popularly as the new tool for plein air landscapes was introduced which gave artists enough mobility to explore the world spontaneously.
  6. 21st Century –The blend of cityscapes with landscapes is the new conventional way to paint Landscapes as the blend of two introduced the precise contrast between the rustic nature and the modern world and is till date a widely appreciated subject. With growing media and tools for painting, artists have started experimenting the new ways of Landscape Painting. The art of painting alluring landscapes is also dependent on the prepossessing scenic views out in the nature.

 Landscape paintings have always been a prominent style of painting after the late and mid 18th century and are still developing rapidly. With the growing technology and introduction of the photography and its ecstatic blend with the Landscape canvas paintings a revolutionary mark has been made in the world of Landscape paintings.


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