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Landscape Paintings

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Landscape paintings are an arm of an artist's imagination.   They are recreations of either identical representations of the view, partial representations of the view, or abstract interpretations of the view.  In 19th century Europe, this form of art was the dominant of artistic creations. 

The range of influences from each of the European countries brought many styles within the realm of painting landscapes.  The second half of the 18th century was the beginning of the Romantic Period.  This style had very little emphasis on the word 'romantic' or being 'romantic'.  Romanticism, by definition, was the revolt against the political platforms of the times, the voice of revolution in the aristocratic society, and the exotic, as well as domestic expression of natural law.  The visual arts of the world at this time embodied a sense of creating strong emotions of awe, fear, trepidation, and desire.  The imagination was elevated and united with reason.  This period of Romanticism successfully molded and changed the way the world felt about what it meant to be human.

The Danish artist, Peter 'Vilhelm' Carl Kyhn, the Russian artist, Karl Bryullov, the English painter, William Blake, and the American, Asher Brown Durand, were all part of the Romanticism movement.  These artists created landscape paintings in various forms.  Scenes of war, sights from travel, and religious influences were often portrayed. 

Then Impressionism was born out of the 19th century.  This Paris-based movement was characterized by the use of very short, broken, thin brush strokes with an emphasis on the effects of light.  Colors were pure and unblended, instead of the usual neutrals, grays and blacks.  Highlights and shadows gave the art spontaneity and effortlessness.

Some of the most famous of recent artists came out of this era.  Claude Monet was one of these French artists.  Many of his works like the 'View of Vetheuil', done in 1880, highlights the purity in color with the natural shadowing of the scene.  Another piece, 'The Four Trees', shows his usage of reflections in the water and the change of lighter and brighter colors to create depth of distant sun-kissed poplar trees.   Another of the famous French artists, Edgar Degas, was born from a wealthy banking family and was encouraged by his father to pursue his artistic gift.  'The Dance Class' was one of his most ambitious figural compositions.  Camille Pissarro was the third French Impressionist who basically started this movement.  'The Garden of the Tuileries on a Spring Morning' is one of three in a series he painted from the view of his apartment window.  This one was released in 1899, just four years before his death.  His landscape paintings were so well received that he chose to return the following year and rented the same apartment to create fourteen more views.

By the mid to late 19th century, the Americans embraced another style of landscape painting, Luminism.  This form took on an aerial perspective, creating a tranquil atmosphere of native scenery.  It also enhanced the illusion of the scene by the use of seemingly mysterious lighting effects and hiding the visibility of any noticeable brushstroke.  Thomas Cole, the co-founder of the Hudson River School of Painting, was considered the leader of this movement.  His painting titled 'Falls of the Kaaterskill' is a perfect example of the use of light and the impending weather to create this beautiful piece.

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