Prior to the latter part of the 18th century, landscape art depicted natural elements in an orderly, logical way, appealing to the viewer's aesthetic senses and not to the emotions. However, in the 19th century, artists began to infuse emotion into their work. Through landscape paintings, artists began to explore man's relationship with nature from both a general as well as a personal point of view. This emotional approach to art deeply touched viewers.
"The Hay Wain" by John Constable
John Constable was one of the first artists to impart emotion into landscape paintings. In his 1821 painting "The Hay Wain," Constable was concerned with ordinary life and man's relationship with nature. The only human figure in the painting was so small as to seem almost inconsequential. The rest of the painting, however, depicted a vast, detailed world. Two prominently painted horses were also in the painting. This pastoral scene evoked calm emotions. The colors, mainly green, white and blue, created cool restfulness.
"Water Lilies" by Claude Monet
Claude Monet's "Water Lilies" was a work consisting of six large panels. Painted mainly in greens, mauve and blues, these paintings of a water lily pond evoked tranquil, dreamlike emotions in viewers. The canvases depicted a large pond set in a landscape with lush grass and a willow tree. The sky and the tree were reflected in the pond's water. In this work, Monet managed to merge the sky, land and water into a mesmerizing whole. It is difficult, if not impossible, to figure out where one natural element ends and the other begins.
"Wheat Field with Crows" by Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh's "Wheat Field with Crows" is one of his most famous works of art. He painted it in 1890, shortly before his death. The painting depicted a wheat field with a path running through it. However, the path abruptly ended in the center of the painting. The seemingly restless and angry sky took up almost one-half of the landscape. Painted in deep, dark blues, it was filled with black crows. Van Gogh also used light and shadow by casting an ominous light that seemed to be reflected from the dark sky over the field.
"Landscape between Storms" by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Painted in 1875, Pierre-Auguste Renoir's "Landscape between Storms" drew viewers into a world where the landscape and the elements combined to create a feeling of unease. The painting depicted a path that ran through a forest. A strong wind assaulted asymmetrical trees as ominous storm clouds seemed to move over a partially blue sky. Two indistinct figures were in the far distance, leaning forward as they followed the path. They seemed to be struggling to move as they braced themselves against the wind. In this landscape, Renoir captured the feelings of man's powerlessness against nature.
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