Albrecht Durer 15th century
|Albrecht Durer, Landscape with Cannon|
This one, of landscape with canon, gives me this feeling. There's a quality of messiness in the landscape which reflects what it is like to try to take in all the detail, and makes the viewer feel all business. Theres a feeling of space in the valley, probably due to the contrast of it being much less detailed, and then the detailed village cutting across in the middle background. The size and detail of the tree and the stones on the foreground ground give something of a frame to it, and emphasise the perspective. The presence of a cannon and soldiers in this rural scene must have some meaning, but not sure what 600 years later.
However, what I found on further exploration of his landscapes, was that many of them are obviously sketches, and that he was probably the first artist to use watercolour for landscapes.
|Landscape near Segonzano in the Cembra Valley|
This one is an example - I was in doubt as to whether it was by Durer until I spotted the detail on the furthest hill, which is very much like the other works I am familiar with. (And the signature!) What I see here is:
Composition - that furthest, most detailed and dark hill at a sweet spot in the composition;
Colour - subtle variations in the watercolour across it, with the most colour contrast at the horizon
Tone - sketched in to suggest shapes in the foreground, detailed and more intense on the hill to focus attention
Unfinished - some filling in of intermediate levels of tone and detail on the hill to the right, suggesting that this was a sketch he never finished. This and the use of watercolour makes it feel remarkably contemporary.
|Albrecht Durer Landscape with a Woodland Pool|
From British Museum online collection
This is another of his watercolour landscapes - BM says 'This is one of his most sensitive and atmospheric portrayals of nature' - thought to be outside Nuremberg.
Again, it has the look of a sketch done on site, with no particular meaning other than to show what he sees. There is an apparently unfinished part in the bottom right. I find this one a little unsettling, presumably this being what 'atmospheric' means.
Tone: There seems to be more light in the background than the foreground, with the areas of lightest tone being just underneath the strong clouds, and in the untouched white paper on the 'beach' on the right, and the strongest tone being in the nearest parts of the pool and the detail of the clouds and pine tree tops across the painting 2/5 or a third down.
Composition: The most intense parts are the foreground of the pool, and the clouds above at the golden mean reflecting this and intensifying the heaviness of it close to us. There are green pines in top right and green grass bottom and bottom left giving a sort of diagonal band of detail. Opposite this are two areas of bleakness in the truncated trees middle left and empty ground bottom right.
|Detail of poolside grasses from Landscape with a Woodland Pool (britishmuseum)|
|Albrecht Durer Quarry|
copied from hannahmaydegree.blogspot.com
Composition is therefore less of an issue, but there is lots of interest here which keeps your eyes moving round. This is provided by the areas of deeper tone (middle, top left and bottom left), and one of greater tonal contrast at the 2/5 line vertically; by the areas of detail which correspond broadly to the tone areas; and by the colour contrasts at bottom left, and the higher horizontal lines of bluegrey in the orange.
There is a feeling of hugeness which can only be because of the tiny spindly trees.
And of the warmth of the orange/ sepia colour, again presumably because of the contrasting grey-blue colour. This one has a lot more evidence of mixing colours to get them right.
|Durer The Trefileria on Peignitz|
again copied from hannahmaydegree.blogspot.com
Looking it up online, trefileria appears to mean wire factory. Can this be right? Is this the 15th century equivalent of that? With a millstone in the middle! Not sure. The composition, with the buildings so close they crowd into the space, makes this landscape more of a study of the angles of the buildings and their relationships to each other. Durer has used tone to make them three dimensional, and this and colour to show that the landscape behind is receding into the distance. The detail is in the bottom left building, and the more intensely dark doorway in the front mid-right, and there is again a contrasting diagonal from left back to front right. There is an obvious area of vagueness in the middle ground. I'm not sure I understand the message or meaning of this painting. And there is something a bit blocky about it that I don't 'get'.
|Durer Antwerp Harbour|
Claude Lorrain 17th Century
'Designed landscapes based on classical proportions'.
|Claude: Landscape with Country Dance 1640-1|
from Liber Veritas at British Museum
A Spectator article by Michael Proger (22 October 2011) says:
'despite turning his attentions from pies and patisserie to painting he never lost his love for confection'
|Claude: View of Tivoli|
Taken from hoocher.com, at the
This is a more natural looking landscape - a sketch done during Claude Lorrain's visit to Rome. Again composition is very important, and indicated by tone, but in this one it is simpler and less mannered, giving the drawing a more spontaneous look to it. Done in ink, wash and chalk.
Here are some of his more familiar 'ideal' landscapes, which he did for aristocratic patrons - apparently he was shrewd and died wealthy. He was friends with Poussin, also known for ideal landscapes.
Claude - View of La Crescenza - oil on canvas
Claude: The Ford
oil on canvas
from metmuseum. org
Claude: Queen Esther approaching the palace of Ahasuerus
pen and brown ink, brown wash over black chalk, heightened with white
Meaning: These landscapes are deliberately constructed for entertainment and to allow his patrons to show off. Claude landscape paintings were important to my mother and therefore part of my fine art education and development. To me they represent elitism and the appropriation of art by the aristocracy (and the plutocracy) deliberately separating themselves from the other people of the world. We are so rich/ educated/ refined, that you couldn't possibly appreciate fully/ deserve what we have. Perhaps this is envy speaking, but I like to think it's because I enjoy my more visceral response to nature, and to landscapes which capture the combination of unpredictability and complex repetitiveness in nature. Even his trees look as though they were made by skilled craftsmen rather than by the tree tapping the sunlight. I obviously feel strongly about this but don't quite know where to go with it. Perhaps I will work this out a bit more while I'm doing this module!
L.S.Lowry and the others will have to wait for another day.