Landscape Art from Modernmasters:
Landscape Art is a term that covers the depiction of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, and especially art where the main subject is a wide view, with its elements arranged into a coherent composition. In other works landscape backgrounds for figures can still form an important part of the work. Sky is almost always included in the view, and weather is often an element of the composition.
Detailed landscapes as a distinct subject are not found in all artistic traditions, and develop when there is already a sophisticated tradition of representing other subjects. The two main traditions spring from Western painting and Chinese art, going back well over a thousand years in both cases. Landscape Art photography has been very important since the 19th century, and is covered by its own article. The word landscape is from the Dutch, landschap originally meaning a patch of cultivated ground, and then an image. The word entered the English language at the start of the 17th century, purely as a term for works of art; it was not used to describe real vistas before 1725.
A major contrast between Landscape Art painting in the West and East Asia has been that while in the West until the 19th century it occupied a low position in the accepted hierarchy of genres, in East Asia the classic Chinese mountain-water ink painting was the most prestigious form of visual art. Aesthetic theories in both regions gave the highest status to the works seen to require the most imagination from the artist. In the West this was history painting, but in East Asia it was the imaginary landscape, whose most famous practitioners were, at least in theory, amateur literati, including several Emperors of both China and Japan.
They were often also poets whose lines and images illustrated each other. However in the West, history painting came to require an extensive landscape background where appropriate, so the theory did not entirely work against the development of landscape painting – for several centuries landscapes were regularly promoted to the status of history painting by the addition of small figures to make a narrative scene, typically religious or mythological.
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