The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts

Master Impressions from the UAMA Collections: Landscapes

Thomas Gainsborough,  The Gipsies (also, Wooded Landscape with Gypsies Round a Campfire, c. 1754-1764

May 5, 2008 – September 22, 2008

Landscape representation in the Western world has its origins in Greco-Roman art, although few examples remain. The Romans developed a particular interest in landscape painting, especially as illusionistic wall decoration, and they promoted two major notions of landscape — the pastoral (the life of shepherds) and the Georgic (the life of agricultural laborers). The Roman attitude toward and interest in nature and the landscape re-emerged during the Renaissance, as artists depicted landscapes as places of pleasure, beauty and peace; still, most depictions of natural scenery served primarily as backdrops to religious and mythological scenes.

During the 16th century, artists (particularly Netherlandish and Venetian painters) began to depict the landscape as a central motif, and by the 17th century, landscape art flourished in much of Europe, reaching heights with the French painter Claude Lorrain, the first artist to specialize exclusively in landscapes and seascapes. Even so, landscapes, along with still lifes and genre scenes, were considered inferior to religious, historical and portrait painting. It was not until the 19th century, under the influence of Romanticism and theories of the sublime, that landscape achieved a place of dominance among artists.

The prints presented here highlight aspects of landscape representation in Western art, from the pastoral scene by 16th-century Italian artists Giulio and Domenico Campagnola to the sweeping vista of the 19th-century British landscape master J. M. W. Turner.

– Susannah Maurer, Assistant Curator

Master Impressions from the UAMA Collections

This series of small, rotating presentations showcases the exceptional breadth and depth of the UAMA Old Master print collection. These selections offer focused consideration of a particularly significant artist or theme, and elucidate some of the most influential developments in the Western printmaking tradition.

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Master Impressions from the UAMA Collections