The Melting Pot of Ideas

01/09/2013 - 01:10


“You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” 


Ansel Adams




It is easy to assume that our ‘creative vision’ is somehow entirely unique. This is probably not the case entirely, especially when it comes to landscape painting or landscape photography.


There are particular painters of the past in particular who had an effect on our embrace of natural beauty.


The first was the French artist Claude Lorraine (1600-1682) - he was uplifted by the landscapes around Rome and felt inclined to celebrate the remains of the Roman architecture in his beautiful representations of the countryside around them. His body of work with its resonance of past times appealed in particular to many and the notion of picnics in such lovely locations was born.







Decades after Claude's passing, the wealthy English gentry became admirers of Andrea Palladio’s architectural books, which were considered to be the ultimate statement in style in the 18th century. They went further to model many of their gardens and parks in the ‘Palladian manner’, creating green spaces that very much embraced the scenes that Lorraine had painted. This of course was a romanticised portrayal of the beauty of the natural world. The description ‘picturesque’ (like a picture) arose in this era of creating landscapes in the style of Claude Lorraine’s paintings, with a good helping of Palladian architecture.


'Chatsworth House' - by Pieter Tillemans (early 18th Century)


The celebration of natural landscapes, the enchantment of the coast and bucolic idylls was brought to our attention in particular by the works of some of the Dutch Masters. The coast and the ocean were celebrated in particular by the unpretentious works of Simon de Vlieger (1601-1653) – he was not afraid to give much attention in a painting to the moods of the sky and his inclusion of ships are so accurate that his works are seen as fine reference material for the record of maritime construction of that time.


'Seascape in the Morning'  by Simon de Vlieger


Jan Van Goyen (1596-1642) who was creating art during the times of Lorraine, presented with scenes of his native coastline, salt marshes and windmills rather that the temples and ruined columns draped in ivy. We are invited into the scenes in away that are more celebration of the real than the nostalgic.



'Landscape with Oak', 1634 - Jan Van Goyen


Possibly the most influential on us now is the work of Jacob van Ruisdael (1628-1682), he was noted in particular for how much of his own emotions and moods were imbued into his landscape studies. His deeply considered studies of the wooded dunes, with their gnarly & weather-beaten trees around his home in Haarlem, invite us to study the long shadows of the evening light, to study the bumbling waters of brooks and streams.


'Landscape with waterfall' - by Jacobvan Ruisdael



For those of us that find ourselves in awe of the coast, undulating rural scenes, hills, heaths, mountains and moorland – we owe thanks to these master painters of the past who first opened our eyes to the unpretentious charms of nature.




03/09/2013 - 17:24
Hello Phil, this is so beautiful, I love the mountains and the rivers too, one of my fav places is Scotland I get a wonderful feeling when I am in the mountains, these are wonderful paintings , thank you for inviting me to see them Best wishes to you Patricia
Phil Hemsley
04/09/2013 - 01:19
Thanks ever so much for your generous comments Patricia - it is so good to hear that these paintings from the past are meaningful to you :)

I too am smitten by the Highlands of Scotland, I have had many amazing journeys there in the past for treks, climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking and kayaking. Each journey has been a very moving experience - a mixture of being humbled by the grandeur and ruggedness; the grand sense of space; the wildness and a sense of connection ... a soulful ambiance in all its weathers. I hope to visit there again someday soon ;)

Add a Comment


Email (not displayed):