Exercise 1.3: Establishing conventions

Brief: find at least 12 examples of eighteenth and ninetieth century landscape paintings. List all the commonalities you can find. 

Holt Bridge on the River Dee, by Richard Wilson (Before 1762)

Landscape with David at the Cave of Adullam, by Claude (1658) 

Evening Landscape Peasants and Mounted Figures, by Thomas Gainsborough (1768-71)

Naples and Capri, by Francis Towne (1786)

The Bay of Baiae with Apollo and the Sibyl, JMW Turner

View of Lerici, by Richard Parkes Bonington (1826)

The Lantern Magica, Cow-Girl in the Windsor Great Park, by Paul Sandby

Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon, by Thomas Girtin (1797)

Yosemite Valley, b Albert Bierstadt (1873)

Derwent water, Thomas Hearne (1777-8) 

Dedham Lock and Mill, by John Constable (1817)

In the Hayfield, by David Cox (Date unknown)

Richard Wilson's painting above depicts a group of people in the foreground, enjoying a dramatic view along the River Dee to the Holt Bridge. The bridge links Denbighshire to Farndon in Cheshire. The tower of St. Chad's in Farndon, can be seen on top of the cliff on in the top right hand corner of the frame. 

Wilson's painting bears many similarities to Claude's Landscape with David at the Cave of Adullam (1658) below. For example a large tree dominating the left-hand third in he foreground, people in the middle third, and a tower in the background. Both perspectives are also similar, overlooking a valley, beneath a cloudy sky. Pale, muted colours have also been used by both artists to represent the countryside. 

Gainsborough's oil painting also abides by the rule of thirds, with a large tree in the left-hand third of the frame. It is a pastoral scene, with a group of people congregating together in the middle ground. The artist has used a palette of greens, browns and orange.  

Once again, a single tree dominates one side of the view, this time on the right. Whilst traveling Italy, Towne used watercolour to accurately document the views that he encountered. Similarly to the other paintings, a group of people can be seen together on the right. Their low position amplifies the size of the trees, which extend the full height of the picture. The viewer is looking from a high angle of view down the valley. Towne has used 'quiet' colours in his landscape painting, with a hazy background. These 18th century landscape paintings concentrated on the topographical features of a place. They captured the grandeur and sublimity of nature. 

As watercolour became popular, artists such as Thomas Hearne and Paul Sandby relied on line to illustrate the detail within the landscape. This development in watercolour has enabled landscape artists to produce picturesque scenes with almost ethereal qualities.

Whilst I was researching for this exercise, the setting of the majority of the paintings was pastoral, with evidence of human activity. There were very few rural scenes.