When the average person thinks of art, there is a distinct possibility that they will think of famous landscape painters. Landscape actually comes from a Dutch word landschap, meaning a cultivated strip of land. These paintings show outdoor scenes, both in real life and imaginary. Often showing weather conditions and the sky, but people are only used incidentally.
If they are required to show buildings in a particular location, then they become known as a topographical view. The English estate owners of the 18th Century were largely the buyers of these views, as they wished to have their estates captured in paint. As they were largely commercial, some people view these topographical views as being less important than the fine art landscapes.
These paintings gained a new lease of life during the 17th Century in Europe, at much the same time that technique for capturing different light and weather conditions came about. It was mainly through the Dutch and Flemish painters of the time. At that time the majority of the paintings were small in size, but this was probably due to the fact that the target market owned smaller houses.
The Calvinist way of life is largely thought to be responsible for the decrease in popularity of religious art works, and the rise in popularity of the landscape in Holland. At that time several popular themes emerged in Dutch paintings, such as village and farm life, a woodland setting or a battlefield. At last, during the 18th and 19th Centuries these paintings finally began to see an increase in prestige, as did literary landscapes and Barcelona paintings.
Watercolor paintings really became an English specialty during the early part of the 18th Century. This was mainly due to there being an excellent market for professional artists. Amateur artists were becoming an increasingly common sight as they followed the techniques as laid down in the books by Cozens and others.
John Constable was more focused around nature, and mainly depicted areas that he knew well. He had an ability to capture the colors, scenery and climate of his chosen subject. So much so that Henry Fuesli commented that seeing a Constable painting made him want to reach for an Umbrella.
Turner is probably the best known of all the famous landscape painters, and his style is still extremely popular. He concentrated exclusively on watercolors until the age of 21, and is renowned for his unique way of capturing the effects of light. His work was revered by Claude Monet, as well as a host of 20th Century expressionists.
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