The genre of landscape underwent a profound change from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in Britain and Germany. The artists created beyond an ancient tradition of calm landscapes full of light created from the imagination, transforming them for work directly drawn from nature. The Courtauld Gallery offers, from 30 January to 27 April, an exhibition that explores the romantic aspects of British and German landscape, from its origins in the 1760s to its peak around 1840.
Through a first generation of Romantic artists, Thomas Gainsboroug and Alexander Cozens stressed working completely from memory, sometimes basing their works on three-dimensional models. In Upland landscape with wooden cottage, figures and cows (1785), Gaingsborough shows his skills to create a range of tones and textures. A blasted tree in a landscape (1780), by Cozens, combines compositional trying to evoke an emotional response from the viewer elements. Paul Sandby, another prominent artist, introduced radical innovations in British landscape practice, due to his experience as a military surveyor.
Other artists tried to emphasize the value of working outdoors. The exhibition shows some of the ‘Study of Clouds’ by John Constable, determined to become more scientific about atmospheric conditions.
Caspar David Friedrich and Joseph Mallord William Turner led the flourish of romantic ideal landscape, although taking different paths. The ability of the landscape to evoke awe or terror in the viewer, and the idea of the insignificance of man versus nature, involve many of the exhibited works. Highlights the work of Turner On Lake Lucerne, looking towards Fluelen (1841), where the lake surface is illuminated by the full moon, representing a jump in his treatment of the landscape, now more focused on capturing light effects and weather . Cologne (1832-33), by the same author was a design for the cover of the 16th volume of The Works of Lord Byron ‘. The work of Friedrich Moonlit Landscape (before 1808) shows the author’s particular interest in the religious significance of the moonlight, comparing the moon to Christ as the light transmitter.
Samuel Palmer is another prominent British landscape painters. His work The haunted stream (1826) is inspired by a poem by John Milton.
This is an interesting example in which, through 26 drawings, watercolors and oil sketches, are revealed some of the ways in which its creators pursued a commitment to the landscape as art, revealing spiritual and philosophical truths behind the external reality.