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Impressions of Landscapes & Countryside, Elizabeth Harvey-LeeA brief introduction to the catalogue and to the history and development of landscape prints

A delight in landscape representation is perhaps a universal response in modern man to enforced urban life. Landscape prints answer this demand for rus in urbe. First introduced as a backdrop to religious or hunting scenes, pure landscape, as a subject in its own right, was achieved by the close of the 16th century. Old master prints hint at Arcadia and show the charms of a recreational countryside; more recent works show an agricultural landscape, to our post-War eyes equally a glimpse of a lost golden age.

The growing interest in landscape depictions in the 16th century came to fruition in 17th century printmaking. After somewhat of a hiatus in the 18th it revived with the etching revival in the 19th and was a particularly favoured theme among certain British etchers in the first half of the 20th century.

From its inception in the north of Europe, the development of landscape art reflects a dialogue between Italy and those countries north of the Alps. The Alps presented not only a physical and symbolic barrier but also inspired the very shape of the landscape, with its high viewpoint and distant craggy peaks, in early landscape prints.

Flemish landscape of the 16th century, though full of naturalistic detail, presented an accumulation of individual motifs within an idealised framework of fanciful mountain scenery. The interaction with contemporary Dutch art and the impact of Italy brought about the modern concept of the landscape print, with detail subordinated to the whole and unified by light.

In 17th century Holland Protestant bourgeois independence fostered secular art, while pride in terrain made it a subject fit for representation. Growing urban communities discovered the recreation of trips into the countryside; prosperity ensured a ready market for printed ‘recollections’ of such excursions. However, although special conditions fostered its development in Holland, an appreciation of landscape was apparent throughout contemporary 17th century Europe.

The clear light of Italy and the Virgilian associations of the Roman Campagna drew northern artists south. Some, such as Bril, Esheimer, Poussin and Claude settled in Italy permanently. The tradition of landscape painting and printmaking which they established remained influential through the following two centuries.

The genre of landscape printmaking coalesced in the period that etching came to the fore as artists’ preferred printmaking medium. It is more than coincidental that in the 18th century (with the exception of a few etchers trained in Italy) interest in both etching as a medium and landscape printmaking declined and in the revival of etching as a creative medium in the 19th century landscape became a principal motif.

Right at the beginning of the 19th century in England the Norwich School artists anticipated the Etching Revival; and in a landscape itself geographically reminiscent of Holland, they looked to the Dutch old masters, especially Ruisdael, for inspiration. Their work makes an interesting comparison with the two great series of didactic mezzotints, essentially in the 18th century reproductive mould, by those colossi of romantic landscapists, Turner and Constable.

In France too it was the provinces which took the early lead in the revival of original etching and of depicting the local scene. Lyon produced a fine school of regionalist landscapists and by the middle years of the 19th century Barbizon was the home of Rousseau, Millet and Jacque. Corot, Daubigny and Dupré had also settled outside of Paris; a trend continued by artists of later generations, Pissarro, Sisley, Frélaut and Beaufrère.

This desire to not only depict but live in the countryside was evident in England too. Palmer, Calvert and their fellow Ancients withdrew to Shoreham, though Palmer’s plates which vividly recall the spirit of that time were only etched three decades later. Griggs, admirer of Palmer, settled in the Cotswolds. The majority of the XXI Gallery artists, Sutherland, Drury, Hoyton, Badmin moved out of London.

The period of the etching boom in early 20th century Britain witnessed a rich variety of original landscape printmaking in all the print media including the tone processes of aquatint and mezzotint more associated with the previous centuries. A nostalgia and neo-romatic feeling for the loss of old farming methods to mechanisation, inspired several artists and in particular Stanley Anderson to record traditional craftsmen at work and the Jersey artist Blampied, among others, to show a farming scene still dominated by the horse.

Published 1989
52 pages, 170 prints described, 170 b/w illustrations  

(Currently out of print)

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Artists included in the catalogue:

  • Anderson S.
  • Angier P.
  • Appian A.
  • Auerbach A.
  • Austin R.
  • Bacler d’Albe B.L.A.
  • Badmin S.
  • Barker A.R.
  • Baron J.
  • Bastien-Lepage J.
  • Bauduins A.F.
  • Beaufrère A.
  • Béjot E.
  • Bella S. della
  • Besnard A.
  • Blampied E.
  • Bloemaert F.
  • Bone M.
  • Both J.
  • Brangwyn F.
  • Burridge F.
  • Calvert E.
  • Cameron D.Y.
  • Claude Lorrain
  • Clausen G.
  • Clilverd G.
  • Cock H.
  • Constable J.
  • Corot J.B.C.
  • Cotman J.S.
  • Crépin S.
  • Crome J.
  • Daubigny C.F.
  • Drury P.
  • Dujardin K.
  • Dupont P.
  • Dupré J.
  • Erler G.
  • Everdingen A. van
  • Frélaut J.
  • Gellée C.
  • Goltzius H.
  • Griggs F.L.M.
  • Gwynne-Jones A.
  • Hall O.
  • Hardie M.
  • Heyman C.
  • Hollar W.
  • Holmes K.
  • Hoyton E.B.
  • Huet P.
  • Immenraet P.A.
  • Jacque C.
  • Jossett L.
  • Komjati J.
  • Kubin A.
  • Lalanne M.
  • Landseer T.
  • Lee-Hankey W.
  • Legrand L.
  • Legros A.
  • Leighton C.
  • Leighton F.
  • Lepère A.
  • Lerolle H.
  • Lucas D.
  • Macbeth-Raeburn H.
  • Masurier S. le
  • Meyeringh A.
  • Millet J.
  • Nash P.
  • Nevinson C.R.W.
  • Nieulandt W. van
  • Orlik E.
  • Ostade A. van
  • Passe M van de
  • Pissarro C.
  • Rivière H.
  • Robins W.P.
  • Robinson R.
  • Rushbury H.
  • Schmidt-Rottluff K.
  • Schmutzer F.
  • Short F.
  • Sisley A.
  • Soper G.
  • Smith P.
  • Sparks N.
  • Stella C.
  • Strang W.
  • Stoop D.
  • Strutt J.G.
  • Sutherland G.V.
  • Taylor E.W.
  • Thomas H.
  • Townsend H.
  • Tunnicliffe C.F.
  • Turner J.M.W.
  • Uden L. van
  • Umbach J.
  • Vadder L. van
  • Velde J. van de
  • Vlaminck M. de
  • Watson C.
  • Whistler J.M.
  • Whydale E.H.
  • Wierix H.

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