From the Renaissance to the Romantic Era, Landscape Drawings Expressed Feelings for Nature
Getty Exhibition Drawing the Landscape: 1500-1800 Will Be on View January 23-April 15, 2001
December 18, 2000
Los Angeles--Real or imaginary, sublime or picturesque, landscapes reflect a range of emotions about powerful natural forces and humankind's place in the rhythm of life. Drawing the Landscape: 1500-1800, on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from January 23 through April 15, 2001, explores landscape drawings from the Renaissance to the Romantic era. Works on display include Titian's delicately rendered Pastoral Scene and Rembrandt's Landscape with the House with the Little Tower.
Artists began to draw the landscape as a subject in and of itself around 1500. This artistic phenomenon corresponded to the increasing perception that rather than threatening human existence, nature reflected a divine and enriching gift, offering both awesome beauty and mental repose.
From the 1500s through the 1700s, Italy was a prime subject of landscape imagery, evoking the tranquil shepherd's existence of classical antiquity known as the "pastoral." Artists such as Jacopo Zucchi, Jan van Scorel, Claude Lorrain, and Hubert Robert depicted this as a golden dream of primitive unity between humankind and the environment, predating the evils of urban life. In his Pastoral Scene (around 1565), the great Venetian master Titian pioneered the depiction of thick foliage suffused with airy breezes by applying slightly scratchy touches of soft brown ink. His innovative techniques were widely emulated during this time.
With their love of concrete detail, Netherlandish artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Anthony van Dyck, Lambert Doomer, and Jacob van Ruisdael pioneered the practice of taking sketching trips to memorialize travels or to record the immediate environment. Rembrandt was especially fond of sketching in and just outside of Amsterdam. In his Landscape with the House with the Little Tower (about 1650-53), he created a sparse, subtle composition by applying small dots of ink on brilliant white, fine textured paper. A few light layers of brown wash created the effect of a foggy atmosphere in which trees and buildings seem to meld together--a picturesque phenomenon so frequently encountered in the rainy climate of Holland.
During the 1700s, the beauties of nature were artificially created in garden settings close to home, as depicted in drawings by Francois Boucher and Jean-Baptist Oudry. As a whole, the drawings in this exhibition represent the long evolving human need to escape into nature as a retreat from strife and as a haven for creativity.
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