An analysis of the design element in landscape painting

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An analysis of the design element in landscape painting

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in i^ ddsc^ie e o : : tj:d

A Thesis presented to the faculty of the Department of Pine Arts University of Southern California

In Partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Easter of Arts

“by Donald P » Sevrens I1eb ru ary 1942

UMI Number: EP57846

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T h i s t hesis, w r i t t e n by

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u n d e r t h e d i r e c t i o n o f Ais- F a c u l t y C o m m i t t e e , a n d a p p r o v e d b y a l l i t s m e m b e r s , h as b e e n p r e s e n t e d to a n d a c c e p t e d b y t h e C o u n c i l on G ra d u a te S t u d y a n d Research in p a r t i a l f u l f i l l ­ m e n t o f the re q u ire m e n ts f o r the degree o f



F a c u lty Com m ittee






Statement of the problem . . . . . . .


Importance of the problem


. . . . * •

Definitions of terms used


Organization of remainder of the thesis II.



. . . . . . . .

10 12

A brief review of the development of landscape painting III.

• • • • • • . .


. • • . • • • • • • • * . .

Composition outline

• • . . . . • • . •

Design IV.


40 49 70 71













Donald P Serrens


The Canyon Cabin

Done-Id P.Serrens


The Oil Wells

Donald P.Serrens


Holy Women at the Sepulchre

PL Van Eyck


Autumn; Return of the Rerds

Pieter Breughel


hunters in the Snow

Pieter Breughel


View of Toledo

El Greco


Landscape with Cypresses

Vincent Van Gogh


Shepherds of Arcadia

E. Poussin


The I'.ill

Rembrandt Van Rijn 114

Entrance to the Borest

J. Van Ruisdael


The Water-mill

Leindert Hobbema


Earling Gates

John Crone


The Corn Pi eld

John Constable


The Hay Wain

John Constable


Rocky Bay with Classic Eigures

J. IE ¥. Turner



J. Corot


Pond of Ville D TArray

J. Corot


T» Rousseau


The G1eaners



The Stag1s Thicket



Edge of the Borest of P ont a in eb 1 eau

PAGE The Grand Canal, Venice

C. Honet


The Vegetable Gardens

V. Van Gogh





Village Streets



Aegean Sea

E. Church


Peace and Plenty

G. Inness


Harp of the Winds

Homer I)* Martin 158

April Snow-Salem

M. Prendergast


Toilers of the Sea

A. Ryder


After the Tornado-Bahamas

Winslow Homer

16 2

Marble Quarry at Carrara

J. S. Sargent


Blue and Gold

Allen Tucker

16 5

Up the Hudson

George Bellows


Maine Coast

R. Kent

16 7

The Lighthouse

Edward Hopper


Composition Forms Triangular forms 1-a,



larallel forms

2-b, 2 - c ............



Rectangular forms 3-a •


Elliptical forms


4-a 4-b


5-a,5-b . . . • • • • • • • • • •




• • • • • • • • * • • • • • *


1-a 1-b • • * . . • • • • • • • •


Composition structures The cross

Concentric strutures 2-a 2-b


Elliptical structure



"SM curve, or angular structure • • • • * • * / * • *


Radiating structure


Elliptical combination , . , • • • • • • • • • • •


Triangular, or pyramidal



* . ....................................



Occult or dynamic


Neutrality, colftr,and value scale diagram


Color balance


• • * • « • * • • • • • • •


P.WPE Line design of The Prosty Pool Compositional structure, The Erosty Pool


. . . . . .


Cornpostional structure, Canyon Cabin • • • • • • • •


Structure and line design, Tne Oil '/ells


. . . . . .

Tone plan, Holy Women at the S e p u l c h r e ............


Com-nosition structure,

Holy Women at the Sepulchre*


^omposiuion structure,

autumn; Return of the Herds. .


Line rhythms of Autumn « • • • • • • • • • • . . . •


Composition structure,


The Light House . . • • • • •

Pattern analyses, Edvard Hopper1s Lighthouse . • • • Riddle values • • • . • • • • • • • • •

« • « • • •


High lights • • • • • • • . . * • • * * • • « » • •


DarEs •



THE EROBIEL'. ADD DEEJEITIOES OE TERES USED Design is the universal common denominator of all art regardless of its medium,

but the importance of design

as an element in achieving a specific art objective varies in its relation to other contributing factors. In the field of landscape painting little study or analysis of the design element ever has been made with a view toward establishing its importance in the finished work, or toward understanding its importance of its rela­ tion to the other artistic and technical factors involved. I.


Statement of the problem.

It was the purpose of

this study (l) to determine the distinction between design and composition, and the relative importance of each through (a) a study and comparison of source materials, and (b) the study and analysis of landscape paintings:

(2) to determine

the relative importance of the design element in comparison with other contributing factors such as the use of color, body, and texture as these appear in the works of selected artists from the Italian, Dutch, Flemish, English and

American masters of landscape painting, and (3) to make an analytical study of the design element, particularly as it appears in the use of specific forms of composition, such as triangular, rectangular, and elliptical, and in specific compositional structures such as pyramidal, concentric, radiating, diagonal, high and low horizon lines in the work of selected American landscape painters. Importance of the study.

While innumerable volumes

in many languages have been written on the history of paint­ ing, and while many of them stress the development of land­ scape painting, the bulk of compiled information does not serve the purpose of evaluating the works in terms of the part played by the elements of design.

If the student is

to acquire a knowledge and understanding of landscape paint­ ing in terms of significant values, that knowledge must be based on something more than a familiarity with descriptive phrases and historical information.

Even a sound knowledge

of design and design principles is not enough, for the design element is, conceivably, only one of a number of im­ portant elements that comprise a finished landscape painting. In the field of graphic arts, pencil drawing, etching, blockprint, engraving, and the like, excellence of design is paramount, but in landscape painting the effect may depend upon the exploitation of specific properties of the


media for artistic expression and interpretation.

This is

particularly true when the medium employed, as in oil painting, possesses in itself the properties of color, texture, and body, and can effectively make use of the re­ flection, absorption, and vibration of light to a much greater degree than is possible with media more limited in their means of expression. There is another important factor that must be con­ sidered.

In no other field of art is the artistfs emotional

response to natural forces either so great or so direct as it is in landscape painting.

In the iridescence of the

atmosphere, the play of light and shadow, the contrast and harmony of color and the vibrant effect of varied textures there is much to excite the creative genius of the artist. In the challenge of such vital forces as heat and cold, wind, rain and storm there is the stimulus of dramatic con­ trasts and power.

In the peacefulness of green, rolling

hills and quiet countryside, the ecstasy of growth, the exuberance of a tumbling stream, and the ruggedness and strength of crags and peaks there is more than enough to inspire the artist, not so much, perhaps, to the creation of an excellent design, as to the interpretation of feeling and emotion through exploitation of all the powers and properties of the media at hand.

Particularly in ,la la

4 prima11 painting, an artist who has had a good grounding in design principles may work with an almost unconscious or intuitive feeling for the arrangement of design elements, and in the excitement of creative painting may give little thought to the deliberate use of design as a part of the creative process. In spite of all that has been said about landscape painting, either in condemnation of the bad or praise of the good, there has been no specific attempt to provide a basis for evaluation through the analysis of the design element, nor has there been an attempt to discover the importance of the design element in its relation to other contributing factors in the use of medium and technique. To do either, or both, successfully, would be to provide the student of landscape painting with a means of evaluation that would add to his appreciation and understanding of this significant art. II. Design.


Planned organization of subject material as

represented through the use of lines, masses, spaces, values and colors on the basis of specific, well-defined principles.

rf....the element of structure in a picture

5 dependent on line, form, and color •11^ Design element. •• fa. ■»' .1■!iihimUfis ».im


The use of design as a contributing

element rather than as the main objective or outstanding feature of the work; design used in conjunction with other important elements such as particular attributes of the media; body, texture, and properties of light, or particular methods of manipulation in the use of the media, each of which may be as important to the successful realization of the artist*s objective. Elements of design.

Line, mass, texture, tone,

value and color, the materials used in the creation of a design. Principles of design.

Use of the elements of design

to achieve the effect of dominance, rhythm, balance, harmony, opposition, variation, contrast, unity. Intuitive. than by thought:

Unconscious; spontaneous; by sense rather Ma quick, or ready apprehension:


power of knowing or the knowledge obtained without recourse to inference or reasoning .ft2 1 Abbott, Edith R. The Great Painters (Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1927), 478 pp. P. xxii. 2 Webster. International Collegiate Dictionary (G. and C. Merriam Co mpany, 1936)1 P. 52§


Conscious use.

Awareness of utilizing design

elements with painstaking care and thoughtful organization, as compared to the more intuitive feeling for and spon­ taneous use of certain specific elements in the organization of subject matter* Technique *

The method of utilizing materials, hand­

ling equipment, or employing elements involved in the production of the work under discussion. Pattern.

The creation of surface relationships,

particularly two dimensional, through the use of values and colors. Value.

The relationship of parts in a picture in

respect to lightness and darkness:

"that property of a

color by which it is distinguished as light or dark."l Balance.

The visual pulling power of the parts of a

picture. "There is a balance of line, of mass, of light and dark, of measure, which is secured upon a scale of attraction which each possesses. "Balance presupposes weight

Considered in the

i T b i d . . P. 1105. 2 Poore, Henry R. Pictorial Composition. P. 30. (G. P. PutmamTs Sons, New York and London, 1903), 282 pp.

7 abstract, the basic elements of a picture, that is, lines, mass and color, possess weight, and their units properly distributed insure balance.n I Harmony.

Harmony is created by the use of a common

element in the treatment of line, form, color, and value. Rhythm.

ffRhythm results from the movement of the

eye directed by the artist’s lines, masses, and colours.”^ Unity.

ffUnity results from the successful fusion of

all the parts of the picture to express the central

i d e a , ”3

or to achieve a dominant effect. Composition.

Composition involves the idea of the

basic structure, the plan of organization of the picture. As used by many writers there is no distinction between the terms, design, and composition, and they are often used interchangeably.

For the purpose of this study it has been

necessary to establish the greatest possible degree of dis­ tinction in their meanings.

Both terms imply a method of

organization of the elements involved in the making of a picture.

A distinction seems to depend more upon the

i Duncan, Walter Jack. First Aid to Pictorial Composition {Harper and Brothers, ¥ew York and -London, 1939), i£i pp.’ t ; ii. ^ Abbott, Edith R., o p . cit., p. xxii. 3 Ibid., p. xxiii.

8 objective of the artist than upon any other single factor. According to Abbott, ” ... design is... .the element of structure in a picture dependent in the line, form, and colour,11 while "Composition is the relation of the parts of the picture to the idea which it expresses In an interview with Dr. Marques E. Reitzel,^ the author obtained the following terse distinctions


is the decoration; composition is the structure” .


would agree with Abbott*s definition in that both imply design to be an orderly arrangement of parts, but that com­ position achieves -unity and expression.

In this study the

term composition is used to describe the arrangement of the parts in a picture to achieve unity and to express an idea as compared to the more decorative function of design.


subject is further discussed in Chapter III which gives a more detailed and analytical presentation of both subjects. Realism.

The picturization of facts; a term

"....applied to work in which the study of specific facts interests the painter, rather than their relation to a ^ Abbott,'Edith R., o p . cit., p. xxii. 2 Reitzel, Dr. Marques E., Head of the Art Department of San Jose State College, San Jose, California (October, 1940).


synthe tic who le •n Impression!sm.

A form of realism, devoted to the

utilization by artists of the scientific discovery of the vibration of light. ftThe technique of the impressionists marked the one point at which the graphic arts received a notable impetus from the scientific laboratory.

When colour was understood

by artists as broken-up light, a new resource was discovered and capitalized.*1^ The term is also used to convey the idea of the immediate impression in subject matter. Expressionism.

The revelation and expression in art

of (1), intimate, personal feeling and emotion in natural­ istic representations, and (2), of a feeling for order in the dynamic organization of forces represented by abstrac­ tions .^ Cubism.

A structural, geometric quality in painting

that attempts....Mto dissociate the planes of an object seen, and to rearrange them in a picture, so organized that they will give a truer emotional or structural sense than J A b b o t t , Edith R., o p . cit., p. xxiii. ~ Cheney, Sheldon R. A World History of Art, p. 797. 3 __ , A Primer of Modern Art. See pp. 41, 59, 69, 195, ff.~T^orace ancTTiverTght, 1924), 383 pp.

10 the


1a p p e a r a n c e 1 .111


An attempt in painting to render the dy­

namic sensation, ....**the particular rhythm of each object, its inclination, its movement, or, to put it more exactly, its interior

f o r c e * 1 .2


In painting, a vagueness of represen­

tation that lends a quality of unreality to forms hut emphasizes so-called spiritual factors, usually through use of values. Tone.

The use of light or dark to create a harmony

of values in a composition.

The term is often used syno-

nomously by writers on art to designate values, but in this study it is used to describe the darkness or lightness of the picture as a whole• III.

ORGANIZATION OF THE REMAINDER OF THE THESIS The following chapters have been developed for the

organization of the remainder of the thesis: Chapter II reviews the chief sources of information and gives a brief review of the historical background of 1 Ibid., p. 101. 2 Ibid.. p. 121.

11 landscape painting. Chapter III takes up a study of the basic forms of composition resulting from the disposition of the large masses of dark and light in triangular, rectangular and elliptical arrangements; of basic structures used to obtain unified organization in the picture, opposed horizontals and verticals, the zig-zag or 11SM curve, pyramidal structure of triangular areas or groupings, concentric ellipses, single ellipse, radiating lines, symmetrical balance, balance across the center, and occult balance.

It also

discusses design as a decorative factor, and the use of design elements and principles of design. Chapter IV discusses and compares the importance of design, of painting technique, and use and character of the media in achieving effects in light, pattern, and texture in oil painting.

References are made to selected landscape

artists who are well-known, or whose work Illustrates es­ pecially well the point or points under discussion. painters are selected from among the Italian,



Flemish, Spanish, and English landscape artists. Chapter V discusses selected works of outstanding American painters from the time of the Hudson River school to the present day. Chapter VI presents a summary and conclusion. Plates analytical diagrams, and figures illustrate the thesis*


CHAPTER II REVIEW OF SOURCE MATERIAL In a study of this kind there obviously must be a great variety of materials and sources which provides the background and the structure of the work, which, through its various parts, finally emerges as a unified whole.

Many of

the sources provide direct references of major importance; others, serving more in the nature of background material, are more indirect but they are no less important as a con­ tributing factor.

Not all the books and references in the

bibliography are used as direct source materials, but be­ cause of the philosophy presented, or the amplifying nature of the content, they make their own very definite contribution, Among the references valuable because of their con­ tribution to a philosophical or critical understanding of art there are several books worth reading. Meaning of Art”-*- is one of these.

McMahonTs ffThe

Based upon a wealth of

material2 the philosophical implications of the chapter headings (asking the questions ”Can Art Have Meaning?” , ”Is Goodness or Badness the Meaning of Art?” , and the chapters ^McMahon, Philip A. The Meaning of Art (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., New York), 306pp. Ibid., see the book list, pp. 299-306.

13 following, asking whether pleasure, imitation, illusion, or technique, provide the meaning), precludes the possibility of approaching any work of art with an inflexible viewpoint. Sheldon Cheney1s, f,A Primer of Modern Art”,1 supplies explanations for many of the "isms" of modern art, although the explanations are often times scattered over several pages and obscured by vocabulary calisthenics. History of Art"2


His "World

a much more valuable general reference,

for it is written in such a manner as to present the essence and the spirit of the art discussed.

Mr. Cheney

has a facility for combining historical information with an exposition of the character and intrinsic significance of the work, and of the times in which it was produced.


though the book is general in treatment there are many references to landscape painters and their paintings, many comments that cast light upon the objectives and character of the artist.

In the opinion of the writer it is one of

the most completely satisfactory books of its kind that has been published in America in recent years. In the field of art history, more specifically re­ lated to the study of individual painters and including Cheney, Sheldon. A Primer of Modern Art. (Horace and Liveright, 1924), 383 pp. .. . ...> World History of Art, (viking Press, Hew 2 York, 1937), 946 pp.

14 most of the great masters of landscape, Edith Abbott1s "The Great Painters"^ is most valuable both as a reference and as a source of chronological data.

The facts presented are

pertinent and accurate, and the reference lists at the ends of the chapters or sections are adequate. Specifically related to landscape painting are the books "Great Masters of Landscape

P a i n t i n g " ,2

Painting Prom Giotto to the Present


and "Landscape

in two volumes.

Both authors render a valuable service to students of land­ scape painting.

Michelfs book deals more intensively with

the personalities and thus affords a better insight into the objectives and interests of respective painters, while Hind provides an excellent list of chronological data and includes a more comprehensive selection of painters.


authors include a large number of illustrations in half­ tone . Ishamfs "History of American Painting",^ while rather ^Abbott, Edith H. The Great Painters (Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1927), 478 pp. 2 Michel, Emile. Great Masters of Landscape Painting (William Hienemann, London, 1916, also T T &• Lipplhcott, Philadelphia, 1910), 432 pp. * Hind, C. Lewis. Landscape Painting From Giotto to grg aent Day, Vol. 1, Giotto to Turner, 286 pp., Vol. 2, THu?ner^t6 the Present Day, 360 pp. (Chapman and Hall, Ltd., London, 1924) 4 Isham, Samuel. History of American Painting. (The Macmillan Company, 1905 and 1927), 608 pp.


limited in scope, is valuable in that many of the painters were contemporary with Isham, the author, in the latter 19th Century.

The book consequently gives a more personal

picture than would be possible in a later volume. "American Artists11-*- brings the picture of American painters up to a more recent date, and supplements Ishamrs volume. "The History and Ideals of American Art"^ is an agreeably comprehensive volume which includes many of the American landscape painters and treats of their work in much the same manner that Michel^ treats of the European landscape painters. "The American Artist and His Times"^ gives pertinent facts about many of the important American landscape painters, and includes notes on many of the contemporaries. The book is excellent reading, and in a great many instances gives first-hand information of a fairly revealing nature. The bulk of information on the American landscape Cortissoz, Royal. American Artists (Charles Scribners Sons, Hew York, London, 1532), 563 pp. 2 Neuhaus, Eugen V. The History and Ideals of American Art (Stanford University Press, 1^31), 445 pp. ^ Michel, Emile, 0 £. cit. 4 Saint Gaudens, Homer. The American Artist and His Times (Dodd, Mead and Company, New York, 1941), 331 ppT


painters, however, came from volumes on the life and work of the respective painters studied, or from articles found in periodicals. An interesting little book that makes a definite con­ tribution to the study of English landscape painting is Binyonfs "Landscape in English Art and Poetry*1.’*' The parallel drawn between the respective arts of landscape painting and poetry emphasizes the poetic quality of each, and the fact that landscape painting is a form of visual poetry, more tangible than could possibly be expressed in words. On the art of painting there are many volumes dealing with the techniques of painting in oil; meaning, definitely, the handling of the medium and the method of approach to the subject.

Of these, Speedfs volume, "Oil Painting",2 gives

sound advice and some good suggestions on composition.


an instructional volume it is undoubtedly as good as any. "Landscape Painting in Oil Colour"® gives some excellent suggestions on composition and on procedure in oil painting. The color plates contribute materially to the illustration 1 Binyon, Laurence. Landscape in English Art and Poetry (Kenkyusha, Tokyo, 1930) 2 Speed, Harold. Oil Painting (Chapman and Hall. London, 1926), 276 pp. 3 East, Sir Alfred. Landscape Painting in Oil Colour (Lippincott, Philadelphi a , 1910), 167 p p .

17 of the text. Roodfs book on Color and Light in Painting-*- gives many excellent means of obtaining strong color effects through the use of basic principles of color relationships, with exact instructions on procedures and descriptions of results. For exhaustive information on the materials of the artist there is no better volume than Doerner’s tfMaterials of the Artist” .^ On the subjects of design and composition there are probably a larger number of disappointing and inadequate books than on any other subject in art.

A few, however,

are of outstanding merit. On the subject of design three volumes are parti­ cularly worthy of mention.

!,A Method for Creative Design”3

gives the seven original and fundamental motifs of design and suggestions concerning their use.

It is written

primarily for beginners, in plain, simple language, as a primer of design, and the illustrations and diagrams are such as would not discourage the most timid beginner.

Rood, Roland. Color and Light in Painting. Columbia University Press-, New York, 194177 ' S W pp. Ved. George Stout) 2 Doerner, Max. Materials of the Artist. (Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1934), 432 pp. 3 Best-Maugard, Adolfo. A Method for Creative Design (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, London, 1929), 1$4 pp.


More advanced, and more Involved is Dr. Ross* "A Theory of Pure Design"^ which goes considerably further into the theory of design organization.

A study of this volume

will quickly show the student the groundwork which inspires the book by Fowler (a pupil of Dr. Ross), on "Modern Creative Design and its Application"2.

Excellently or­

ganized and ably presented, this one volume makes up for all that is lacking in other books on the subject.


distinction between elements and principles is exact, and the illustrations and explanations of design elements accor­ ding to design principles evolves a truly creative procedure and method of teaching.

Many of the design principles have

been employed in this study in the analysis of the de­ corative, or design element, concerned with this study. On the subject of composition several volumes make definite contributions.

"The Pictorial Composition of

Pictures"^ has much in it of value, though the material is somewhat scattered and not too well illustrated.


the most concise and readable little volume, well organized ^ Ross, Denman W. A Theory of Pure Design (Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston and "New York, 1907)7 201 pp. * Fowler, Herbert A. Modern Creative Design and Its Application (George Wahr, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1§33), 270 pp. Poore, Henry R. The Pictorial Composition of Pictures. (G. P. Putnamfs Sons, New York and London, 1903), 2^2 pp.

19 and well presented, is "First Aid to Pictorial Composition"1, which has been recently published.

For student and layman

even a hurried perusal would certainly clarify many un­ certain points on this complex subject.

Another little

volume that adds a few points of its own is "A Manual on Composition in Drawing and Painting".^

"Landscape and

Figure Composition” ^ stresses some factors in composition more satisfactorily than is done in other volumes, but the text could in no sense be considered complete.


and Expression in Landscape Painting" is worth reading for its presentation of objectives.

All of these volumes con­

tribute definitely to the subject. themselves.

None are complete in

Chapter III of this study attempts to present

the subject concisely, and in an organized manner. II.


DEVELOPMENT OF LANDSCAPE PAINTING It is impossible to determine the actual date at which landscape painting began.

It has been established

1 Huncan, Walter Jack. First Aid to Pictorial Composition (Harper and Bros., Publishers, New York, London, 1939), 1^1 pp. 2 Doust, Len A. A Manual on Composition in Drawing and Painting (Frederick Warne and"~Company, L t d .,T o n d o n and New York, 1936), 86 pp. 3 Hartmann> Sadakichi. Landscape and Figure Composition, (The Baker and Taylor Co., N. 19l O ), 121 pp.

20 that principles for landscape painting were definitely formulated in the Orient prior to the eleventh century, and that landscape painting, as an individual form of expression in art, was well advanced in China centuries before it appeared on the European continent.

However, since the art

of East and West were so widely separated, it was not until European landscape painting was quite fully developed that the painting of the Orient was introduced to the European art world or had any influence upon it.

It is a matter of

interest to know what preceded European landscape painting in point of time if for no other reason than to discover how the landscape painting of East and West compare at a later date when the former had been established by long tradition and the latter had only emerged as a full-fledged art. The stated principles of Chinese landscape art are brought up through antiquity chiefly through the work of Kuo Hsi in an "Essay on Landscape Painting",-1- an essay read for centuries by Chinese and Japanese artists.

According to

the record which he has given, Kuo Hsi was born in Hoi®n Province about the year 1020 A.D. and followed the teachings of Lao Tzu.

In middle life he acquired great fame.

He was

I Kuo Hsi. An Essay on Landscape Painting. Edited by Cranmer-Byng: Dr. S. A. Kapodla (E. P. Dutton and Company, 1936), 64 pp.

21 greatly attracted toy the work of LI C h feng, one of the most important landscape painters of the Northern Sung dynasty. Kuo Hsi produced many palace frescoes.

One of his paintings,

"Early Spring", is signed, and dated 1072. The following extracts have toeen taken from the essay in order to give a picture of the content and principles of the early Chinese painting. "The Erh-ya, earliest Chinese dictionary, says: Painting is representation."1 "The work of coloring and painting comes after the ground work has toeen laid....There is a method in landscape painting.

How dare one paint in a careless


"Narrow specialization has from ancient times toeen an evil."^ In painting a scene, irrespective of its size or scope an artist should concentrate his spirit upon the essential nature of his work.

If he fails to get at the

essential, he will fail to preserve the soul of his theme. Discipline should give his picture dignity. depth is impossible.

Without dignity

Diligence and reverence will make his

work complete."4 Ibid., p. 27 (Preface). 2 Ibid.* p. 28. 3 rSTcT., p. 33. i b i d ., pp. 33-34.


The foreword to the volume states that the Sung artist... .!ldelighted in landscape above all other subjects. What he really expresses is the meeting and union of two characters — man.

the character of Nature and the character of

Never did the artist approach nature without reverence

and preparation.” ^ Specific instructions in regard to the art of land­ scape painting are here quoted: "The clouds and atmosphere of the real landscape are not the same throughout the four seasons.

In spring they

are bright and harmonious; in summer dense and brooding; in autumn thin and scattered; in winter dark and

gloomy.” 2

,lIf in painting these mountains an artist observes the essential nature of his scene and does not follow details too closely, then the atmosphere or tone of the mist and haze will be justly reproduced....The clarity and cloudiness of the real landscape should b© studied from a distant view.

From near by the scene appears patched and

cramped and all distinctions between light and shade and the visible and invisible are 10st."3 "Aspects of the mountains are dependent upon the 1 Ibid., Foreword, p. 17. 2 Ibid., P. 36. 3 Ibid., P* 36.

23 absence or presence of mists.

Without haze and mist there

is no division of hidden or apparent parts” •. • / ’Water is a living thing.” ”Stones are the bones of heaven and earth...” ”Mountains with no mist and clouds are like a spring time with no flowers and grass.”** ”A mountain has three dimensions...” ® ”It has been said by the ancients that poetry is a picture without form, and painting is a poem with form.” ^ ”A painter should be master over, and not a slave to his brush.” ? Had the painters of Europe had the opportunity to study Chinese landscape paintings and to read the essay of Kuo Hsi the progress in landscape painting would undoubtedly have been much more rapid.

As it happened, the course of

progress was exceedingly slow, and landscape developed very gradually from an interest inspired by the need for back­ ground effects in portrait and figure paintings. There are several examples of art in Europe that have in them a strong element of landscape.

These are

worthy of mention, though they did not contribute to the

~5r_Tbid. 2 Ibid. 3 T B Ic C . 4 T F T c f.



p. p. p. p. p.

44. 45. 46. 49. 49.

24 development of landscape painting because Of their in­ accessibility. Wall paintings from the Boscoreale, Pompeii, almost wholly landscape in character, were made prior to 79 A.D.

(now in the British Museum),

From this date the thread of

landscape painting may be traced through the early Christian manuscripts to the illuminated Byzantine mosaics and the illuminated Byzantine manuscripts.

"In the early Christian

manuscripts may be found perfect analogues of Roman and Hellenistic painting, of the Pompeian house paintings and the catacomb murals.M1 In the thirteenth century, Margaritone of Arezzo, on two of the panels of the altar front in the "Virgin in Glory" (British National Gallery), was obliged by the nature of his subject to include shepherds and sheep, a cow, and a natural background.

These examples are so small as to be

utterly insignificant, yet they might be considered as a beginning. Authorities differ as to whom the real father of landscape painting may have been.

The strongest influence

in the development of landscape begins with Giotto, whose works were publicly exposed at Padua and Assisi, and where, particularly in the series of frescoes depicting incidents ""Cheney, Sheldon R.

World History of A r t .

P. 406.

25 in the life of St. Francis, there is a notable use of landscape elements.

It is significant that Giotto (1266-

1337) used landscape only as it became necessary in telling his story. Following Giotto there were a number of painters who used landscape as necessary background, but who contributed little to its development as an art.

The Van Eycks, Hubert

(c. 1366-1426) and Jan (c. 1385-1441) were responsible for the next great forward steps in landscape painting.


Hubert Van Eyck is attributed the painting of 11The Three Marys at the Sepulchre", said to be the first real landscape painting of an accomplished and realistic character

To him

also is attributed the invention of a new method of oil painting, which, because of the brilliance of color, met with immediate favor, and had much to do with the progress of landscape painting. Because of their excellence and the interest they inspire in those interested in landscape there should be mentioned the illuminations of "Les Tres Riches Houses" of Pol de Limbourg (c. 1380-1434) and his brothers.


decorative quality of the design and the fine feeling for 3- See Hind, C. Lewis. Landscape Painting from Giotto to tke Present Day, 2 Vols. (Chapman, liall, Ltd., London, T52TJT V o l 7 T - 286 pp.; Vol. 2 - 360 pp. Vol. 1, pp. 49-46.

26 composition indicate a relatively high stage of development that did not carry through to inspire the progress that might have been expected from other painters. Masaccio (1401-1428) contributed a new element to the development of landscape painting in the discovery and introduction of atmospheric perspective best illustrated in !tThe Tribute Moneyn .

Closer observation of nature also is

apparent, and with it a finer appreciation.of natural re­ lationships . In Giovanni Bellini (c. 1428-1616) there appeared a master of painting who had a profound influence on further­ ing the development of landscape painting through his influence on Titian and Giorgione, both of whom, as boys, worked in B e l l i n i s studio. Contemporary with Bellini, and following closely after him, there appear many lesser Italian painters who add their bit to the increasing tide of contributions leading toward the development of a pure landscape art.


however, are still the dominant interest, landscape the background. In German art Albrecht Durer,

(1471-1528) is of con­

siderable importance, for in the great number of his drawings and engravings, wood-cuts and pictures dealing with landscapes and with floral and nature subjects, there is

27 really a tremendous contribution. Joachim Patinir (German, 1475-1520) presents pure landscape in a panoramic form.

His ”River Scene” has the

charm of decorative design and the arresting appeal of spaciousness and depth.

His subtle handling of values, his

intricate, yet delicate tracery of design reveal the joy that the painter found in nature and the pleasure that he derived from his work.

Much of that sense of enjoyment is

transmitted to the observer. Prom among the large number of painters in Italy, contemporary with Durer and Patinir and following Bellini, there stand out two who are of prime importance, Giorgione (1478-1510), and Titian (c. 1477-1576).

Giorgionefs im­

portance may be attributed to the profound influence he has had upon painters for more than four hundred and fifty years and to the interest he inspired in Titian who outlived him by sixty-six years and became one of the great painters of all time.

Giorgione's portrayal of ” ....the opulence of

life, and the richness of nature —

high noon, and warm

scented eves” ....”the condition of the heavens, and the effects of light”’*', defines the elements which have made such an outstanding contribution to the development of a significant art.

Hind remarks:....”The world of

**- Hind, C. Lewis,

0 £.

cit., p. 128.

28 connoisseurship is still at the feet of this Italian youth of genius, still wonders at his accomplishment, power, and pictorial serenity.fl^ Landscape was, for the most part, incidental with Titian —

something to be taken in his stride.

He used it

successfully and with masterful technique for background, much in the manner of Giorgione, and in !tStormy Landscape” , painted in his later years, produced an example of pure landscape art.

Titian*s work possesses the power of mature,

masterly technique, but it lacks the simple charm and grace of Patinir, the humility and the love of nature character­ istic of a Rousseau.

With Titian landscape may be said to

have come of age, but It had not yet developed the character, the charm, the graciousness, and the many-sided interests of a mature art. With Tintoretto, who treated landscape much after the incidental manner of Titian, the greatness of Italian paint­ ing fades and the interest and development of landscape art passes to other hands and countries. In Flanders, with Pieter Breughel (c. 1525-1569), contemporary with Titian, landscape art enters upon another phase of development.

A lover of nature and of peasant

life, Breughel revelled in the use of natural forms; ~

Ibid., p. 129.

29 animals, trees, people, clouds, rocks and hills, and utilized them, unconsciously, perhaps, hut truly neverthe­ less -- as elements of decorative design.

In so doing he

contributed pattern as an additional and important element in landscape art. Paul Bril (1556-1626) popularized landscape and .... ftif not the originator of the monumental landscape, he fashioned it into a formula that lasted, with amplifications, until the time of Turner.

Paul Bril was the master of

Agostino Tassi; Tassi was the master of Claude .tf... .!tBril looked at Titian, Tassi at Bril, Claude at Tassi, and the greatest of them all, Turner, looked deeply at Claude and set himself to out paint him.**^ Whatever B r i l fs actual influence on Turner, who appeared two hundred years later, may have been, his popu­ larization of landscape had much to do with the ever in­ creasing attention it received.

Certainly, with the appear­

ance of his sixty-eight foot wide painting in the Sala Clementina of Clement VIII, landscape could not remain unnoticed, and the fact that his popularization reached the higher level of society assured the continuation of that interest for some time to come. It was undoubtedly fortunate that another great 3r~Tbia., pp. 159-160.


master of painting, Peter Paul Rubens,

(1577-1640), should

appear, and give added impetus to the interest in landscape art.

Although Rubens did not engage in the creation of

landscape until towards the end of his career, he brought to it a mature style and a mastery that imbued it with magnificence and power. With Rubens, landscape passed through the last initial stages of development.

It had at last become a

significant art, and from his time onward landscape paint­ ing was less a matter of development and more a branching out —

a searching for truth and a means of expression that

followed various trends through the succeeding centuries. Prom thence onward there were many artists who devoted the best of their lives and spirits to the expression of m a n ’s kinship with nature - - h i s interest and oneness with its moods, its seasons, and its multifold manifestation of forms • In reviewing the historical background of landscape painting from the time of Rubens down to the present, either of two courses might be followed to advantage.

The first

would be to follow a chronological list of names of the great artists who high-light the art of landscape painting, coupled with a review of their characteristics; the second, to follow landscape through those countries in which it


became an important art, v/ith a review of the character­ istics it assumed in each country through the men who pro­ duced it.

Since the purpose of this study is to deal more Laracteristics of 1

from an analytical point of view, such a, chronological list as above suggested, accompanied by the briefest statement of /

an identifying characteristic, has been adopted as a means of clarifying the relationship of respective artists in point of time. lor the purpose of better under standing the character­ istics of landscape painting as it appears in different coun­ tries, a brief review based upon the second suggested pro­ cedure has been followed to slightly greater length. E L GRECO•

1 5 4 5 -1 6 1 4

Highly individualized painting, strong rhythms, considerable distortion, and a tendency toward abstraction. lA U L B R I L .

1 5 5 6 -1 6 2 6

Painter of monumental landscape, popularizing it among the wealthy classes. IilSA3hS T h i: I)E


1 5 9 0 -1 6 5 0

Sincere painter of nature, influential in

32 creating the school of Dutch landscape painting. HERCULES SEGHERS.

c. 1590-1640

First Tfpure landscape" Dutch artist - poetic, panoramic type of landscape.

Strongly influenced



Link between Flemish and Dutch schools. J. VAN GOYEN.


Founded the Dutch school of simple village landscape* NICOLAS POUSSIN.


Late contemporary of Rubens, classical land­ scape painter, and founder of French school of landscape• CLAUDE LORRAIN.


Contemporary of Poussin, but his interest was wholly in landscape*

His work is characterized by

close observation of nature*

He painted with great

fidelity and his greatest contributions portrayal of the quality of

were the

sunlight, a newquality

of light and air, and a sense of distant space achieved by eclipsing the horizon line* REMBRANDT VAN RIJN.


Painted only about fifteen landscapes.


33 of the handling of darks and lights.

Used prin­

cipally golden browns in coloring. AELBERT CTJYP.


Painted landscape filled with golden, radiant light and shimmering air. J. VAN RUISDAEL.

c. 1628-1682

Represents the culmination of Dutch landscape painting.

A master of composition, his paintings

have balance, power, spaciousness, and an epic quality of poetic expression. JAN VERMEER.


Elevates commonplace subject to a work of art. Introduced pontillist technique. MEINDERT HOBBEMA.


Last of great Dutch landscape artists. Strongly influenced John Crome. ANTOINE WATTEAU.


Light, gay touch with outstandingly exquisite quali t y . CANALETTO (ANTONIO DA CANALE) 1697-1768 Strong, atmospheric treatment.


art in decadent Italy for a short time. FRANCESCO GUARDI.


Pupil of Canaletto, with more spontaneity.



Father of English landscape.

Glowing atmos­

phere, spacious airiness, bright color, contrasting with the dark colors of the Dutch masters.


chiefly by Italian landscape. THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH.


Not as great a landscape painter as Wilson, M .•..but it was Gainsborough who raised the pastoral into a serious and esteemed art.11-^ JEAN HONORE/ FRAGONARD.


Master in the rococo style and environment. Marks, the end of the baroque epoch.

His backgrounds

were mainly theatrical stage-settings. JOHN COZENS.


Pioneer water-color landscape artist.


pared the way for Girtin and Turner, whom he greatly influenced. THOMAS GIRTIN.


Early friend of Turner.

First to realize full

possibilities of water color. JOHN CROME.


Transcribed much of the poetry of English landscape into painting. 1 Hind, C. Lewis.

Landscape Painting, Vol. 1, p. 222.




Harked transition from the old to the new in French painting. J.M.W. TUKKER.


Great understanding of landscape and great mastery of expression. sionism.

Opened the way for impres­

Great inconsistency in the quality of



Contemporary of Turner, but rendered with more fidelity to nature.

Work characterized by

charm, simplicity, accuracy, and a strong feeling for interpretation.

Strongly influenced the Bar-

bizon painters. FERDINAND VICTOR EUGEEE DELACROIX. 1798-1863 Leader of the Romantic movement.


in contribution of color to modern art, composition of color, particularly. JEA1T BAPTISTE CAMILLE COROT.


Greatest poetic landscape painter of Prance. Subjects drenched in light.

Monochromatic painting,

strong, simple composition.

Oldest of the Barbizon

group of painters.




One of earliest American landscape painters of the Hudson River School. landscape.

Attempted allegory in

Studio quality of painting, lacking in

beauty, but broad in extent and variety. THEODORE ROUSSEAU.


Close friend of Millet.

Strongly influenced

by Dutch painting.

Used strong contrasts.

student of nature.

Fine painter of tree subjects.

Colors rather sombre.


Vigorous, dramatic portrayal



Great student of nature. dominated by landscape.

Figure compositions

Strong theme of m a n ’s

relationship with nature.

Essentially an Inter­



Recognized leader of Realistic painting great matter-of-factness.

Impressive use of color.

Observation of material qualities of objects. perception of texture.


flScientific” study of land­



Quality of abstractionism in his painting •?

37 decorative character predominant.

Archaic figures*

Landscape employed in arbitrary fashion - typical rather than natural* EDOUARD MANET.


Completed the transition from the Realists to the Impressionists*

Combined naturalistic interest

with sympathetic use of the medium. brilliant technique*


Delighted in creating texture*

Strong feeling for decorative pattern.


directly - sharp silhouettes - strong, brilliant colors in juxtaposition* GEORGE PULLER.


Often called First American landscape painter. Strongly imaginative, simple expression of beauty in a spiritual sense. GEORGE INNESS.


First great American landscape painter. Sought to express spiritual quality of nature. Strong, imaginative Interpretation. FREDERICK E. CHURCH.


First in importance among American landscape painters In attacking new and magnificent scenery. Highly successful in presenting atmospheric qualities.

Traveled widely in North and South




Painter of the great scenery of Western America.

Widely acclaimed and publicly honored.

Paintings reveal a conscious show of cleverness and a lack of feeling. THOMAS HILL.


Famous as a painter of California scenery. More freedom than was exercised by the Hudson River school.

Technique equal to any exhibited in his day.



Landscape painter of lyrical, poetic charm, strongly influenced by Inness.

Deliberate, sincere

presentation. HOMER MARTIN.


Quality of poetic charm in landscape equalled by few.

Subdued richness of color - broad effects.



Important as a revolutionary in a r t •


beautiful pattern in scientific color harmony.


reaching influence in the field of art. WINSLOW HOMER.


Greatest marine painter of America.


realist with poetic interpretation of the elemental

39 forces of nature and their basic relationship to man. ALBERT P. RYDER.


Impressionistic painter, strong expression of mysticism.

Poetic, imaginative expression.


experimentalist• CAMILLE PISSARRO.


A leader, along with Sisley and Monet, of French Impressionistic landscape painting.


carded f,brown sauce11 and "gravy11 type of manipulation of medium. ALFRED SISLEY.


Strongest poetic contribution to Impression­ istic landscape.

Intensity of color characteristic

in painting of all three painters (Sisley, Pissarro and Monet). CLAUDE MONET.

1840- 19 26

Most typical painter of impressionistic land­ scape.

Sought his subject in brightest sunlight and

attempted to envelop it in atmosphere of an irides­ cent character. PAUL CEZANNE.


Painted creatively, disregarding formal con­ ceptions.

Sought to discover dynamic principles.

Logical approach.

Realistic attitude.



Important in working out problems of Im­ pressionistic painting. Later work warmer.

Early work cold in tone.

Responded particularly to color,

light, heat, and feminine beauty.

Technical mani­

pulation and color used to create abstract rhythms in later work. PAUL GAUGUIN.


Figures natural to landscape setting. drawing, strong design; flat, vivid color.

Uncouth Use of

simple values, broad outlines. VINCENT VAN GOGH.


Disregard for conventional precedent. Fanatical emotion exhibited in sweeping strokes of brush and swirls of thick paint.

Strong realism.

Grasped much of the potential force of nature. PAUL SIGNAC


Scientific use of color, but little esthetic expression. GEORGES SEURAT.


Early work stark and severe in design.


portant influence on following generation in use of scientific use of color and logical approach to painting problems and expression.



Surpassing technical skill - portrait painter* JULIAN WEIR.


Work characterized by delicate subtlety and keen observation* JOHN TWACHTMAN.


Impressionistic, but highly individual. Refined, elusive beauty by subtle color relation­ ships • CHILDE HASSAM.

1859- 1935

Highly developed technical formula.


pressionistic romanticist in early work, sound technician and master of color with interest in ex­ pression of beauty in later work. WILLARD METCALF.


Perfection of technique, excellent design, consummate artistry.

Reveals subtle beauty of



Realist, using highly expressive brushwork. One of the most individual and skillful of American landscape painters. MAURICE PRENDERGAST.


Decorative Impressionist, highly individual

42 and unconventional style, daring color. JOHN SLOAN. Versatile artist. in use of light and color.

1871Strongly impressionistic Strong composition,

highly decorative pattern. ROCKWELL K ENT.


Powerfully individual.

Work characterized by

large, simple planes, monumental grandeur and dignity. GEORGE BELLOWS.




Masterful painter, original, often complex compositions. JOHN COSTIGAN.


Impressionistic painter. GRANT W O O D .


Highly conventionalized form, strong, decora­ tive design on a broad scale.

Strong contrasts.

Regional painter. JOHN STEUART CURRY.

189 7-

Strongly emphasized regional painting, highly localized themes. THOMAS BENTON.


Strong, plastic expression, characteristic rhythms, brilliant color.


1907 _

Highly decorative painter, with great facility and excellent design, especially in water color. Truly representative of the spirit of his time. MARQUES E. REITZEL.


Strong landscape painter, broad, bold tech­ nique.

Solid structure and strong design.


originality, realism, and some sentiment, especially in earlier work. Italian painters, through the mastery of men like Titian, Giorgione, and Tintoretto, and through their use of landscape, chiefly as background for figure compositions, laid the ground work for the full development of landscape painting.

While their work did not possess the detail of

Durer or the charm and grace of Patinir, their German con­ temporaries, the Italians, were more influential because of the popularity and attraction of classical art in Italy, and the consequent opportunity of many visiting artists to view their works. In Flanders, Pieter Breughel, the Elder, contemporary with Titian, initiated genre painting and combined it with landscape to introduce a strong element of pattern and of highly decorative design. Paul Bril, Flemish by birth, but Italian by adoption,

44 late contemporary of Breughel, popularized landscape, and paved the way for the landscapes of Rubens which appeared in the late years of Rubens1 life. With Rubens appears the full, panoramic landscape which carried over into the work of Seghers, his Dutch con­ temporary, and persisted as a strong influence through the early Dutch and Flemish painting.

The classical influence

remained strong, due to the previously mentioned popular practice among artists of going to, and even residing in Italy, if possessed of the means to do so.

This Italian

interest and resulting classical influence is a dominant force in the work of Poussin, and is apparent in ClaudeTs landscapes in which there frequently appears architectural interest in the form of classical ruins. As landscape painting developed in the Dutch and Flemish schools, the tendency toward the panoramic land­ scape gradually disappeared, with stronger interest in more intimate subjects involving home scenes, home life, and topics of more specific human or natural appeal. Throughout Dutch and Flemish painting there is evident one outstanding characteristic -- the use of strong contrasts in values.

Oftentimes this assumes a definite

pattern of light in the central area surrounded by dark, or of light in the upper and dark in the lower portions of the

45 picture.

There is also a predominance of dark or brownish

colors with relatively few exceptions, as in the work of Aelbert Cuyp. In French landscape, Watteau marks the only change, or development between Claude and Georges Michel.


touch was gay and light, with an outstandingly exquisite quality, but his influence was slight.

There elapsed

another half century before the appear since of Georges Michel who marks the transition from the old to the new in French painting. The greatest of the Dutch painters had passed before the appearance of Watteau, but between the times of Watteau and Michel the interest and leadership in landscape passed to England where it took on new qualities of brilliance and color in the works of Wilson and Cozens. in the works of Girtin and Turner.

This culminated

The transition and deve­

lopment occupied, in period of time, almost an even century. In the work of the English artists there appeared the spark and the Impetus for two important developments in modern art. In the use of light, by burner, there lay the foun­ dation of Impressionism, and in the simplicity, accuracy, and strong interpretative feeling of Constable lay the elements that took definite form in the work of the Barbizon


painters. After Turner and Constable English landscape has continued with little change to the present day, except in the respect of natural growth resulting from the absorption of movements originating in Prance, who again took the leadership in landscape painting through the recognition and influence achieved by the Barbizon painters, chief of whom were Corot (1796-1875), Theodore Rousseau (1812-1867), and Jean Francois Millet (1814-1875).

The chief contri­

butions of the Barbizon school were greater simplification and unification, with more of an expressive interpretation of nature.

Of the poets named above, Corot is important

for his poetic interpretation of nature, Rousseau is impor­ tant as a realist who saw nature beautifully, while Millet depicted the dependence of man upon nature. In America landscape painting begins in the nine­ teenth century, and follows the pattern established by the English and the French.

It originated through the activity

of a group known as the Rudson River school who sought particularly the almost photographic rendition of detail coupled with the greatest technical excellence they could acquire.

During the decades 1920-1940 American landscape

has become more native and has assumed more initiative, and has become more national in character.


Between the time of the Hudson River school and the present day American landscape painting progressed through a series of stages and transformations marked by new and changing interests.

There were the followers of

Inness, the painters of spectacular scenery, the romanti­ cists and the impressionists, the painters of winter and the painters of the sea.

The story is well told by Heu-

haus in his "History and Ideals of American A r t . "


gent describes the Hudson River school interestingly and concisely; The Hudson River School1s virtues filled the gap be­ tween the old eighteenth century regime and the newer movements characteristic of our own time. These men had a fine sincerity and a great respect for themselves and their craft. They made "thorough” their watchword. They dressed with prodigous care, conscientiously and with a certain dry precision. They were firmly founded upon technical excel­ lence --but some of their paintings were as unemotional as a time table.The men in the main were self taught until they went to Europe to study. Before they were influenced by Germany and the Barbizon school in Prance--they a U p a i n t e d alike because there was only one way of painting--namely the Italian way. The formulas were all laid out for them. The* shadows were brown, sky--blue, grass--green, clouds--white,. Prom the first, American landscape was colored by the action of native influences, particularly in subject matter, thpugh its dominant characteristics were mainly European. Realism forms the background for landscape painting, due largely to its representative nature.

When landscape

1.Beuhaus,E., History and Ideals of American A r t , Stanford University Press, 1.931, 445 p. 2. Sargent, W a l t e r • j Lectures,1922, Botes, courtesy Amy W. McClelland, University of Southern California

48 ceases to be

representative it ceases

becomes abstract, or something else.

to be landscape —


Thus, dealing with

forms it deals also with facts, and as a consequence real­ ism provides a foundation for whatever form of expression the artist may choose to make. Impressionism might well be looked upon as the out­ growth of a scientific age which has suddenly burst the bounds of confining tradition.

Old methods were no longer

adequate for

the impetus of creative genius

the progress

of science.

stimulated by

In the discovery of a new method of representing light and of using color there also appears the desire to express feeling with greater force. As a result the late nineteenth century was a period of experimental endeavor.

Closely allied to the Impression­

ism of Manet, ^onet, Seurat, Signac, Van Gogh, and others is Expressionism which, in the representational form, assumed the objective of a personal expression of feeling or concept.

Van Gogh represents this type of objective by

his feverish outpourings in which design, medium, and tech­ nique each play an important part. CezanneTs study of form, planes, and rhythms pro­ vided the basis for Cubism, and though Cubism has had little influence on landscape as a whole, both it and Impressionism


COMPOSITION Through the perusal of a large number of volumes It

has been found that no two writers on the subject of com­ position agreed in their respective definitions of the term. Also, because of the confusion in the use of the terms IIcomposition11 and wdesignff, it was necessary, after careful study and analysis, to adopt the definitions given for these two terms in Chapter I of this study. It is the specific purpose of this chapter to explain the separate functions of composition and design as they apply to, and are inherent in the art of landscape painting. From the mass of confused, and often conflicting material on the subject of composition, it has been determined: 1.

That composition is the form and the structure

through which a thought or idea is presented in pictorial form. 2.

That composition is based upon two elements;

(a), the disposition of the large masses of lights and darks, or values in the picture plane; and (b), upon a balanced, unifying, organizational structure which relates all parts to the whole.

50 3.

That there is a relatively limited number of

such forms and structures, used singly or in combination, upon which all compositions are built. 4.

That design is fundamentally the decorative

element in the picture, and that it is effected through the application of specific principles in the use of the design elements of line, form, space, direction, value, and color. Walter Jack Duncan says; "Composition may be defined as the art of o r g a n i z a t i o n . T h i s definition might apply equally well to design, for it is equally true of both. This fault of ambiguity is characteristic of most of the definitions encountered, and leaves the reader wondering as to whether there is any real difference in the two terms. However, taking a large number of such statements and choos­ ing common points of agreement, the truth can finally be sifted out and a real distinction made between "composition” and "design” . Mr. Doust states; "Composition is the science of harmonious association.”^

This statement agrees wholly with

Duncan1s, just cited, and applies equally as well to design.

^ Duncan, Walter Jack. First Aid to Pictorial Composition, p. 9 (Harper and Brothers* New York. London, 1939), 121 pp. ^ Doust, Len A. A Manual on Composition in Drawing and Painting* p. 83 (Frederick Warne lind Company, Ltd., London, New York, 1937), 86 pp.

51 Somewhat more specific is Mr. Glass*s statement:

"One of

the most important factors in landscape composition is tone, or values, as some people prefer to call it.


depends upon the relationship of the light and dark areas in the picture apart from colour, texture, or any other consideration except the lightness or darkness of the com­ ponent parts.”-*- Here, again, an author speaks of compo­ sition and of elements of design in the same "breath, without making other than an implied distinction between the two. The lack of distinction between the two terms, and an awareness of their inter-relationship on the part of the author is apparent in the following quotation taken from the same volume:

"At the root of all forms of art expression

lie design and harmony.

There is always a building up, a

grouping together of certain elements to convey some thought, mood, or idea, and then a rounding off or pulling together to bring the work to completion.

Consciously or uncons­

ciously the artist works in some such manner as this what­ ever his medium may be11...."He is first and foremost a d e s i g n e r . T h r o u g h the greater part of this quotation Mr. Glass has been speaking, not of design, but of composition... I Glass, scape Painting, p. 287 ^ Ibid., p.

J. Composition and Expression in Land­ 70. {Seeley, Service and Companv. Ltd.. pp. 45.

52 ”to convey some thought, m o o d ? or idea•” Arthur Wesley cow has this to say:


The ’putting together’ of lines, masses, and colors to make a harmony.”1

and; tfComposition, building up of harmony, is

the fundamental process in all the fine arts.11^ Dow a clear distinction is also lacking. 11Spacing is the very groundwork of Design.

With Mr.

He says further: Ways of arrang­

ing and spacing I shall call principles of composition.


my experience these five have been sufficient: 1.










These names are given to five ways of creating har­ mony, all being dependent upon a great general principle, proportion or good spacing.” The ’’principles of composition” as stated by Mr. Dow, are also referred to as principles of design by other writers, notably Ar. Denman Ross,3 and Mr. Herbert A. 1 Dow, Arthur Wesley. Composition, p. 5 (Doubleday Page and Company, New York, 1926), 1 2 6 pp. Ibid., p. 3. 3 Ross, Dr. Denman W. A Theory of Pure Design (Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston and New York, 1907), 199 pp.

53 Fowler, ■*- referred to later in this study* Mr* Henry R* Poore implies that balance is the basic principle of composition in this statement: M0f all pictorial principles none compares in impor­ tance with Unity or Balance *!l^ A negative statement, which implies the function of composition, follows in the same volume: MThe neglect of leading lines, or of forcing a logical procedure from part to part, so that no part may escape the continuous inspection of all, produces decom­ position*ft5 A more positive statement referring to the use of line and mass as composition factors states: 11Of first importance in composition is the motion of Light and Dark, to which Line is second* line is but the edge of the masses*

In the tone design

Line as the basis of

the form of the design is reduced to a few forms which with modifications become the framework for all pictorial structure.

Line as an element of beauty sufficient of

itself to become subjective is rare, an exception in ^ Fowler, Herbert A. Modern Creative Design and Its Application (George Wahr, Ann jkrbor, 1933), 270 pp. y Poore, Henry H. The Pictorial Composition of Pictures, p. 25 (G* P* Putnam*s Sons, New York and London, i§03), 282 pp. Ibid., p. 269.

pictorial art .11^ Mr. Poore somewhat clarifies the confusion concerning the two terms in question when he saysl ^Design is a good basis, its simplicity yielding favorably to the settlement of spaces and the construction of lines, but its chief purpose ends when it has cleared the field of little things, and reduced the first concep­ tion, which usually comes as a bundle of items, to a broad and dignified foundation into which these little things are set.n^ Prom these statements it may be seen that authors of texts on composition seem to trouble themselves very little over the meaning of the term on which their thesis is based, for they speak of composition at one time, and in speaking of the same things a few pages, or in another chapter farther on, call it design. The two terms are decidedly different in meaning. To establish that distinction it has been necessary to proceed with the thesis advanced in the definition of compo­ sition in chapter I, and amplified in the first two pages of this chapter. 3rT b i d .. p. 266. 2 Ibid.. p. 265.


In the disposition of the large areas of dark and light lies the first problem of composition.

In the study

of composition, covering a large number of landscapes by many painters it has been found that the arrangement of these areas can be described by a relatively small number of simple forms. 1.

These are: A diagonal arrangement dividing the picture plane

into (a), two large and approximately equal triangular sections, the edges of which are broken by overlapping, or incutting subordinate areas, especially light breaking into dark areas as shown in 1-a, and (b), a triangular ,fcut,f in which a dark triangular area cuts in from one side of the picture plane, and is balanced by an opposing, but smaller triangle, as shown in 1-b.





A series of parallel bands, vertical or horizon­

tal, variously arranged in one, two, or more dominant values, using a high or low horizon line. Horizontal High Horizon

Low Horizon







.j.-. A-


. T**T • •:

A rectangular arrangement, one rectangle opposing

another, as in 3-a above.

57 4.

An elliptical arrangement; a, light surrounded by

dark and vice versa; b, dark enclosed by light and dark ellipses, or the reverse.



tal band and the ellipse;

e.g. (a) Combination of horizon­ (b) Combination of horizontal and








By irregular light or dark areas, surrounded by

opposing and balancing darks or lights.

The second problem in composition concerns the structural organization or plan for the movement within the composition.

This movement is concerned more with line

than with mass (form), but controls the arrangement of sub­ ordinate masses within the large areas described above.

(Footnote) tfIn the case of masses of tone, in place of lines, the eye has to jump from one to the other, but they held the eye mere consistently in one spot. Hence ?;e learn that for objects of interest mass is preferable to a line, but for moving the eye smoothly from one part of the picture to another a line form is better.”1 1 Doust, Den A. and Painting , p . 17.

A Manns1 on Composition in Drawing


These structural forms are relatively few, and are based upon two principles, namely; balance, and opposition. These forms are: 1.

The opposition of horizontal and vertical lines,

resulting in the cross: Horizontal





The repetition of straight or curved lines,

circles, or squares about a given point, resulting in a concentric movement:

2-b •


The use of the elliptical, concentric type of or ganization is illustrated and explained on the three following pages.


Line design above, diagram be!on,

showing the

organization of the dark and light masses along the cLigonals, and the elliptical structure of the composition of The Pro sty Pool, illustrated on the next page*


The Eros ty Pool Donald P. Sevrens


This landscape was worked out as a problem

in compo­

sition, using a triangular arrangement for the large massing of values, and a concentric elliptical organization for the design structure.

As in all compositions of this type there

must he a rather subtle use of the ellipse or the interest would be destroyed. through


dark or



Ellipses are related to one another

useof diagonals and in-cutting forms of either The ellipses employed here are in reality-

the lower edges being tangent to the rocks at the

lower edge of the pool upon whioh they center. In The Frosty Pool the element of design is exceed­ ingly important.

The rhythm of concentric lines and forns

would become exceedingly monotonous if elements of variation and opposition v/ere not introduced.

The repetition of

circular movement emphasizes the static quality of the pool, but it is opposed by diagonals breaking from one ellipse to

62 another.

In the mass forms of the rocks the sequence of

size, progression, and continuation provides variation and introduces a rhythmic movement.

The pool is ringed about,

in the background, by trees grouped in rhythms of threes, made more interesting by alternations in value and position, and by progression in size and value.

The vertical oppo­

sition introduced by the trees relieves and balances the concentric organization of forms about the pool. There is considerable texture in the trees, gained by the use of brush strokes and fairly thick paint; slightly less texture in the pool, rocks, and snow.

The cool colors

in snow and shadows and sky are balanced by warm browns in the pool, in the shadows in some of the trees, and in the distant trees in the left background. Balance Is achieved on the principle of the steel­ yard, the pool in the foreground being balanced by the mass of trees in the background, as well as by an occult balance due to the static quality of the pool upon which is centered the movement of the related masses around and above it. There is balance in value, mass, position, movement, and color.

6:3 3.

The radiation from or convergence upon a central


The combination of horizontal and vertical ellipses:


The use of the "S1* curve, or zig-zag line:

”S!t curve



Canyon Gab in Donald P, Sevrens 1941 The Canyon Cabin was worked out as a problem in combin­ ing radiation with the "Sn curve.

The diagram below

illustrates the structural plan of the composition* This composition suggests the possibilities in the combination of yarious structural plans.

65 6.

The triangular, or pyramidal type of organization:

The composition diagrammed below, and illustrated and explained on the following page, has been presented by the author to show the practical application of this type of pictorial organization.

The same plan is utilized by Edward

Hopper in the ”Lighthouse” illustrated and analyzed in Chapter V of this study, pages


Tiie Oil Y/eiXs Donald P. Seirrens

The Gil Wells

19 29

represents a problem in composition

in which triangles represent tiie basic structure and carry tiie movement in a climactic pyramiding to tiie oil well in tiie left upper central section of tiie picture* Per better design the distant derricks r/ere grouped and arranged somewhat differently than they actually appeared* The build­ ings in the background were also transposed to carry cut the triangular organization.

The color harmony is based on

complementaries, blue and oranges with secondary greens and yellow greens complementary to reduced redo and redviolets, creating strikingly brilliant and harmonious c ombinat ion s .

67 From these diagrams the action of one unifying force or principle is apparent, namely that of balance, and the unity obtained with balance across the center of the picture has much to do with success in composing. The sense of balance is definitely associated with a sense of weight.

In a pictorial sense it is the "pull" on

the eye, with the center of the picture acting as the ful­ crum, across which the eye mentally balances the Mweight11 of opposing objects on the scale of inverse proportion of distance to the size of the object.

In this connection it

should be observed that the nearer an object is to the outer boundary of the picture plane the stronger its !tpulltf, hence, the greater its importance from the consideration of composition. (Footnote t) Poore, Henry R.

Ibid., Ibid.,

Ibi d ., I bid.,

The Pictorial Composition of Pictures.

f,The conception of balance clearly understood in the length, the height and the depth of a picture con­ tains the whole truth of pictorial composition.11 p. 271. "There is a balance of Line, of Mass, of Light and Dark, of Measure, which is secured upon a scale of attraction which each possesses.11 p. 30. "The placement of the important item or subject, has little to do with the balance scheme of a picture. This is the starting point, and balance is a consi­ deration beyond this." p7 30. "In every composition the eye should cross the central division at least once." p. 30. "The eye finds repose and delight in the perfect equipoise of elements, brought into combination and bound together by the girdle of the frame." p. 35.


In the consideration of balance there are three distinct ways in which it acts: 1.

On the principle symmetry, or the equal distri­

bution of force, as in balancing equal weights on either side of a fulcrum;


On the principle of unequal mass, or weights, in

inverse proportion to the distance from the center, as with a steelyard;

69 3.

On the principle of felt, dynamic, or "occult"

"balance, in which the volume or weight of a mass is sensed by suggestion rather than actually seen or illustrated, as in the use of a diagonal line suggesting the presence of a mountain which may be almost wholly outside the picture pl a n e .

70 Prom the foregoing discussion on composition the following outline has been evolved: Composition I.

Three dominant considerations are involved; 1.

Disposition or arrangement of large areas (masses) of dark and light. a.

Diagonal or triangular.


Parallel horizontal or vertical bands; definite and indefinite separation.


Opposing rectangular.




Combined forms, as horizontal and elliptical; horizontal and triangular.


Balanced irregular masses of light against dark, or dark against light•


Arrangement of subordinate areas (masses) on a plan of structural organization with the use of line• a.

The cross; vertical and horizontal.


Radiation, or convergence.






Angular - zig-zag and !lS!f curve.


Triangular, or pyramidal.


Pin wheel, or double tfSn curve on horizontal or vertical plane.


Balance. a.

Regular, or symmetrical distri­ bution or force.


Irregular, or balance across the center - inverse proportion of mass and distance.


DESIGN The third problem of the landscape artist deals with

the element of design, or the decorative element in land­ scape painting.

This is just as important as is the com­

position for each functions in a different but related capacity.

The composition makes a picture unified through

the relationship of the parts, and arresting by virtue of the spot effect of dark and light masses.

The composition

in a picture may give it a certain character, but the design gives it expression.

Since landscape painting is parti­

cularly an expressive type of painting, the importance of design cannot be minimized or denied.

The effectiveness of

design depends upon two factors; the artist*s mastery of

72 the principles of design, and his objective. Concerning both design and objective, Mr. Glass makes some pointed remarks: wIt is futile to attempt to minimize the importance of design.

There are some thoughtless

W i n d b a g s 1 (to

borrow an expressive word from Carlyle) who prate of ’spontaneous expression1, fof fervid fiery outpourings of untutored genius dashing down with native skill1, etc., etc. But let us consider the matter.

In the first place there

is the choice of subject, then the choice and grouping together of words, sounds, colours, actions, movements, forms, or whatever it may be In such order as to express the subject in the best possible manner.11^ RGreat landscape work affects us with a feeling of familiarity, we seem to have known this scene, to have lived with it, perhaps to have loved It for long.

It does not

startle or shock us Into admiration, it soothes us and woos us Into a receptive mood....It is Nature translated, Nature interpreted in terms of line, tone, form, and colour. fact it is a poem in paint.


It is nature epitomized,

brought into the limits of a frame, a homogeneous,


*"-■■■-- - n-Glass, P. J. Composition and Expression in Landscape Painting, p. 45.

73 whole, satisfying because of its harmonious^ It may quite safely he assumed that no one seriously questions the importance of design in landscape painting. Its relative importance, as compared to other factors such as inherent characteristics of body and texture of the medium, reflection, vibration, and absorption of light, has never been determined, even in a comparative sense or degree. Concerning the relative functions of composition and design it might be said: ^Composition for unity; design for expression.ft It is not meant to imply that design is the only ex­ pressive factor in landscape painting, but because of the fact that design, at least to the present date, has more elements for expression than any other factor, it follows that it should be most effective in the expression of thought, mood, feeling, or idea as interpreted by the a rtist. Design is, primarily, order in arrangement, using the elements of line, form (called shape or mass by many writers),

space, direction, and value (tone) according to

principles enumerated and explained in the following pages.

1 Ibid • • PP* 46-47.


The intrinsic meaning of design is set forth by Dr. Ross who says; nBy Design I mean Order in human feeling and thought and in the many and varied activities by which that feeling or thought is expressed. three things, —

By Order I mean, particularly,

Harmony, Balance, and Rhythm.

These are

the principal modes in which Order is revealed in Nature, and through Design, in Works of Art.11^ Dr. Ross further defines the terms he uses as follows i ^By the Order of Harmony I mean some recurrence or repetition, some correspondence or likeness..1*^ rtBy the Order

ofBalance I mean some

and consequent equilibrium, as it


equal opposition

at somemoment


Time or at some point of Space; an equilibrium which in­ duces, for the moment and in its place, a suspension of all change or movement, and causes a pause or a rest.f,3 ”By the Order of Rhythm I mean changes of sen­ sation; .... .1 mean, by Rhythm, a regularity of changes in a regularity of measures, with the effect of movement upon our minds.11^ ^ 2 3 4

Ross, Dr. Ibid., p. Ijbid., p. Z E I Z * * P*

Denman W. 1. 1. 2.


Theory of Pure Design, p. 1.

75 Although Dr* Ross is speaking of order in pure design he shows the relationship to representation, which is so important in landscape painting, in the following statement: ”Order, which in Pure Design is an end, becomes in Representation a means to an end; the end being the truth of Representation*

In Representation we are no longer

dealing, as in Pure Design, with meaningless terms, or if the designs have meanings, with no regard for them.


Representation we are putting lines and spots of paint together for the sake of their meanings*

Design in Repre­

sentation means Order in the composition or arrangement of meanings*

What we aim at is the Truth of Representation in

a form of expression which will be simple, clear, reason­ able, and consistent, as well as t rue.*•.Objects, people, and things represented must be brought out and emphasized or suppressed and subordinated,

according to the Idea or

Truth which the artist wishes to express.'1^ Landscape is primarily a representational form of art used to express the artist’s feeling or thought about nature, and to express it with the utmost power and effect­ iveness at his command.

Whether he uses design consciously

or unconsciously, perhaps even intuitively, its use, 3~Tbia., p. 7.


through the marshaling and organization of means and forces, offers him the surest road to success.

Because of the

subtlety of expression however, the landscape artist must possess a thorough knowledge of design.

On this point Mr.

Glas s remarks: "Rules are doubtless made for beginners, but the practised hand knows his rules so thoroughly that he applies them unconsciously, often denying that he uses them at all."1 "Every picture, whether it be a landscape, a still life, or a figure subject, is primarily an exercise in space filling.

It is a panel of definite shape into which

are fitted the various components of the picture, and upon the manner of their distribution and arrangement will de­ pend the success of their work."^ "Apart altogether from the objects, or elements depicted, and irrespective of any resemblance they may bear to Nature, the pattern made by tones, forms, and colours constitutes the first appeal made by a

p i c t u r e .

"Landscape design requires a great knowledge and a more skillful application than applied design because of ^ Glass, P. J. Composition and Expression in Landscape Painting, p. 49. s Ibid., p. 48. 3 Ibih*> P* 52.

77 its greater subtlety • n ^~ Because of this subtlety, and the consequent diffi­ culties encountered by the student in determining the function of design in landscape painting, the remainder of this chapter has been devoted to a discussion and ex­ planation of basic principles underlying the use of design, particularly as they apply to landscape painting. Landscape painting, being representative in nature, deals specifically with creating the illusion of form, and much of the effect gained in landscape is due to the manner in which form is treated.

Line, in landscape, is but

slightly used due largely to the character of the medium. When used it is as the accented edge of a plane or form, or as it carries the eye from the edge of one mass to another. In this capacity, line acts as an element of pure design. With form representation the artist is concerned at the outset with problems in the use of light and shade. Surface areas take on form and character through sequence and contrast of values.

Simultaneously with this expression

of form there develops the possibility of an organization of light and dark areas strongly suggestive of pattern. With the development of representational form there are also developed the other elements of design with which -l Ibid., p. 67.

78 the artist achieves the expression or realization of his objective.

These have already been mentioned as elements

of pure design.

As elements of representational design

they apply particularly to form as used in dealing with the elements of: a.





Measure, or size





The manner, or mode in which these elements are used very largely determines their effectiveness and form of ex­ pression. In dealing with values the artist is concerned with the relationships in light and dark of the planes of forms and of forms with each other. With the element of direction the artist is concerned with the horizontality, verticality, or angularity of the main axis of the forms represented.

These three principal

directions have psychological, and therefore expressive significance• MThe uplift of the simple vertical is spiritual as well as mechanical.

It may carry the thought to higher

levels or may support therewith an opposed line.

In either

79 case Its strength is majestic."^"The horizontal is a line less commanding than the vertical....the symbol of repose, serenity, and reserved motion."^ "The diagonal being an unsupported line naturally suggests instability, change motion, transit.

Its purpose

frequently Is to connect the stabler forms of the compo­ sition or lead therefrom."^ In Measure or size of form there exists an element which can be used to establish a strong sense of harmony through repetition of equal measure, of variation through the use of unequal measure, and of rhythm through orderly change or progression. Position of form deals directly with space relation­ ships and space filling; the amount of space between forms. Shape, or character of form as defined by curvi­ linear outline, giving smoothness and grace to transitions; angularity, giving sharpness and definition; breadth or volume, giving a character of stolidity and weight; slender­ ness and height, giving delicacy, grace, and spiritual character. 1 Poore, Henry R., pp. cit., p. 266. 2 Ibid., p. 266. 3 Ibid.. p. 267.

80 Color has not been included among the elements of design except as related to the use of values.

There are

several reasons for this omission, the chief reason being that color is a science in itself, to which all of the basic principles of design apply with almost equal signifi­ cance, hence its use can be discussed to better advantage after presenting the subject of design.

Color, figuratively

speaking, is the holiday dress of design, its chief value being in the heightening of decorative effect. The expressive quality, or character of design is due almost entirely to the manner of combining the above described elements.

This expressiveness can be made

stronger, or it can be made to take definite form and di­ rection through the artist's knowledge and skill in the handling of the design elements, guided by an understanding of their psychological import.

Effects of harmony, rhythm

and balance are all achieved through just such specific, intelligent manipulation. Harmony is achieved through repetition applied to all five of the elements of design, individually and collectively. Harmony: a.

Repetition of value (expressing form and pattern)

81 b.

Repetition of direction


Repetition of measure (size)


Repetition of position (in space)


Repetition of shape (contour)

Harmony expresses order, but used alone becomes monotonous,

consequently its greatest value to the design

is as an auxiliary factor in expression which carries the thought, idea, or feeling along smoothly and gracefully, adding immeasurably to the total effect of other forces. Complete harmony could be attained in landscape painting by representing the same kind of trees, equal in size, equally spaced, and represented in the same values and colors, with all forms standing in the same relationship to each other, but such harmony would be utterly lacking in interest.

The need for change, or variation would be

obvious. In order to be effective, change also must be under­ taken in an orderly manner if anything but chaos is to result.

This manner of utilizing change is called the f,Mode

of Sequence” by Mr. Fowler, who says: !tThe mode of sequence is the active, dynamic mode of design.

It brings to Nature and to design the orderly

variety and motion necessary for interest.

Sequence is an

orderly change, transition, or related movement.

It is

82 orderly variety within or overlaying repetition and balance. Often it typifies life itself.

In Nature the sweep of the

tides, the alternation of day and night, the changing seasons, are all examples of sequence on a grand scale.ft^ The “Mode of Sequence” is expressed by orderly change in utilizing the design elements. Sequence: a.

Orderly change in tone (or value)


Orderly change in direction


Orderly change in size (or measure)


Orderly change in position of forms in space


Orderly change in shape (or contour)

Sequence, in landscape painting, is chiefly respon­ sible for the realization of a tangible form of rhythm — rhythm created in a pictorial sense. 2 sequence under three main heads; 1.

Fowler subdivides

Sequence of Continuation; Flowing line or form continued in one direction, for example, the meandering course of a river, an undulating sky line, cloud strata, etc.

1 Fowler, H. A., o p . cit., p. 28. ^ Ibid., see pp. 33-38.

83 2.

Sequence of Alternation; Regularly broken or interrupted con­ tinuity such as might be found in al­ ternation of river bank and clumps of trees, or horizon line intermittently broken by architectural or natural f orms •


Sequence of Progression; Gradual change of ~ a.

Tone —

from light to dark.


Direction -- from horizontal to vertical.


Measure —

from large to

small • d.

Position —

far apart to

close together, etc. e•

Shape —

from straight or

angular to curvilinear, etc. Sequence not only achieves rhythm, but controls it, and through rapidity of change or slowness of change it can most effectively create a psychological effect of turbulent unrest or of quiet, dreamy, peaceful movement. MODE OP BALANCE. As applied to design in landscape painting balance

84 acts as a stabilizing factor in the equilibrium of forces# These forces are apparent in the size and position of masses, the disposition of light and dark areas, and the movement and direction of lines, and forms# There are two types of balance in design; regular and irregular.

A strictly regular balance, providing

absolute symmetry, does not appear in landscape painting. With deviation,' however, it appears in both the axial and radial forms.

In regular balance there is balance on a

central axis, as in the balancing of equal weights across the center, best illustrated by H o bbemafs ftAvenue” .


in this strongly symmetrical composition there is consi­ derable deviation in the design on either side# In compositions based on a radial structure there is balance around a center, but here again there is a great deal of deviation in the grouping of the respective parts in relation to the lines of radiation. Irregular balance is the type used most frequently in landscape painting, and may be described in two charac­ teristic forms; 1, balance across the center, and 2, occult, or nfelttf balance. Irregular balance across the center is best illustrated in design organized on the plan of the zig-zag line, or f!Str curve; the triangular or pyramidal form, and the structure

85 based upon the use of opposed rectangles.

The occult type

of irregular balance is illustrated especially well by the concentric elliptical structure, seldom used, but possessing great potentiality.

A composition of this type has been

worked out by the author to illustrate this particular type of balance and form of composition. The subject of Occult Balance has been ably pre­ sented by Fowler, whose outline,

since it applies almost as

well to landscape painting as to pure design, is presented herewith, including a short, explanatory paragraph. TtOccult Balance, because of its intangibility is felt rather than seen and therefore has been so named.

It must

be achieved by visual feeling, but some of the main factors that help attain this balance are position, mass, action, and interest of the parts of the design. I.


(1) All attractions balance on a center; unequal attractions balance at inversely proportional distances.



(1) Dark and light (massing of values) (2)Small and large (massing of values) r.,;

(3) Bright and neutral (massing of color) (4)


Cool and warm (massing of color)

86 III.


(1) Convergences - progressions (2)

Left to right motion


Inclinations (right and left balance)







(1) Design


Intricate and simple forms


Dynamic and static forms








Floral" ■ 1

To this, for landscape design should be added:— (d)

Natural landscape forms


Architec­ tural forms

Occult balance presents the most difficult element in the analysis of landscape design because of its great degree of subtlety.

It does not, however, defy analysis,

.c i t .,

1 Fowler, H. A., ojd

p. 42.

87 as lias often been claimed by writers and critics.


illustrates, very plainly, the need for greater knowledge and understanding of design factors. Chapters IV and V present analysis of design in landscape painting, showing the combinations of design elements which are particularly responsible for the effect achieved,



COMPOSITION, DESIGN, AND OTHER FACTORS PRESENT IN THE WORK OF SELECTED LANDSCAPE PAINTERS In the preceding chapter it was necessary to present a fairly detailed and thorough study of the elements of design and composition due to the lack of clarity and com­ pleteness relative to both subjects found in most literary sources. however,

With other factors concerned in this study such a detailed presentation is hardly necessary.

Many books dealing with the scientific and technical aspects of color, brush technique, materials of the artist, mani­ pulation of the medium, and the us£ of light are available to both student and layman, and are presented in such terms as to be easily understood. It is the specific objective of this chapter, there­ fore, to present and compare the significant aspects and inter-relationships of the above mentioned factors according to their relative importance and their expressive qualities, particularly as they relate to the subject of landscape painting. It has been considered necessary,

also, to point out

the fact that the landscapes referred to or used as illus­ trations for purposes of analysis have been selected because

89 they are particularly appropriate.

There has been no

attempt to present an exhaustive survey of the field of landscape painting or of the works of any particular artist* The subject of color was not discussed In the pre­ ceding chapter because of the reasons presented, as well as because of the fact that it is so amply discussed both scientifically and technically by so many writers.


color is essentially an element of design it is also a complete science as a phenomenon of light. be applied,

To it there may

so far as Its use in painting is concerned, all

the principles of design.

In landscape painting the use of

color is important in two respects; namely: adjunct of design, and,

(1) as an

(2) as a means of expressing light

through the physical characteristic of vibration, in which latter capacity it was exploited by the Impressionists. In the first capacity color is chiefly a decorative factor in the


Fowler states:

ft...the student should remember that the use of color In design is usually only one of many factors necessary to the successful design. The use of color in design is generally an elaboration of the element tone. One should always try to solve his particular problem in terms of design before thinking of color by itself, and then he should use color to enrich or emphasize a particular phase of the expression involved rather than as a means to cover up inherent defects in the underlying design.” ^* ^ Fowler, H. A., Modern Creative Design and Its Application, p. 89. (Ann Arbor, George Wahr, 1533), 270 pp.

90 In landscape painting, as in design, the first con­ sideration in the use of color, if there he any attempt to express form, must he one of value.

The effectiveness of

the composition and of the design hoth depend, first and foremost, upon the rendering in terms of values*


therefore, is considered the most important attribute of color.

Next to value, and secondary to it, are the pro­

perties of hue and intensity.

Thus, color as related to

design in landscape painting, has three functional charac­ teristics: 1.

Value— the quantity of light in the tone


Hue--the quality of light (color) of the tone


Intensity— the brightness, or purity of color in the tone^

By value is always meant the specific lightness or darkness of the color used. by a color name.

Hue is the color distinguished

Intensity describes the strength of the

color between full strength and neutrality.

Hue and

neutrality, therefore, are inseparably related, for as the hue decreases in strength, neutrality increases.

If a hue

is one quarter intensity, then it is three-quarters neutral. It must also be observed that the colors in the spectrum,

Ibid., see pp. 69-77, ,fAnalysis of Color” for the authoritative basis of this discussion.

91 (or in the color wheel, as used in painting), have definite relationships in terms of values.

This relationship is

shown in the following scale outline as given by Fowler Y e l l o w ....... High Yellow Orange Orange......... Low Red Orange........ R e d ........... High Red Violet ........ Low

Warm Colors

White - Light Lig h t ....Yellow..Green - L i ght ............. Green Middle .... Blue Green - D a r k ............... Blue D a r k ...... Blue Violet - D a r k ............ Violet Black

Cool Colors

The seven values thus represented may be expanded indefinitely by adding white or black to the respective colors.




Diagram showing color, neutre.lity, and value scales 1 2

Fowler, H. A., o£. c i t ., p. 73. Ibid., p . 70

The following outline indicates the application of design principles to the use of color as these principles apply to the color properties of value, hue, and intensity* Color harmony Monochromatic scale Different values of the same Hue Analagous scale Adjacent Hues at full intensity Adjacent Hues at different values Different Hues at the same value Color contrast Moderate contrast One or two colors removed on color wheel Sharp contrast Three or five colors removed Violent contrast Five or seven colors removed Color sequence Sequence of values Sequence of hues Sequence of intensities Color balance Balance of hues— warm vs. cool Balance of values— dark vs. light Balance of intensities— intense vs. neutral tones In color harmony the basic principle lies in the re petition of a similar element.

In monochromatic color

harmony the repetition is of the same color in different values.

In analagous color harmony the repetition is in

colors of the same values, or in repetition of different but closely related values, providing a gradual sequence. To obtain harmony in intensity there is the repetition of the same intensity in the same color or in different colors, provided that in the latter case the hues are not used at full intensity. Sequence in the use of color provides a painting with life and sparkle introduced through the principle of change.

It acts through the three properties of hue, value,

and intensity. Sequence in hue is gained through the gradual and regular change produced by rhythmic alternation or through the gradual change or growth produced by continuation and progression.

Sequence of value is brought about by alter­

nation and progression in the use of values.

Sequence in

intensity is gained by the use of alternations and pro­ gressions from intensity to neutrality in the use of hues. In attaining balance in color the activating prin­ ciple works chiefly through recognition of the progressive and recessive character of hues, values, and intensities. A small, warm tone balances a larger, cool tone because of the greater assertive power of the warm tone. A small, dark tone or value balances a larger light tone because of the fact that a dark tone against a light



through contrast, makes the dark dominant*

A small,

intense area of color, being more concen­

trated, balances a larger, more neutral area*

A small, warm tone balances a larger, cool tone*

A small, dark tone balances a larger* light tone.

A small,

intense area of

color balances a larger, more neutral area

95 Besides being the holiday dress of design, color is exceedingly important as a psychological factor in the total effect achieved by all the contributing elements in the picture. Brilliant color is stimulating and exciting, and when used intelligently and harmoniously it creates sparkle and vivacity as well as strength and brilliance, so well illustrated in the painting of Vlaminck. When the colors are reduced in intensity, and the contrasts in both hue and value are weakened, acquires a dreamy,

the picture

somewhat misty effect that is often

referred to as being poetic in nature.

Softening of the

edges of masses and forms also aids in gaining this effect, as in the paintings of Corot, especially those of his later period.

Such a use of color appears in many paintings

similarly treated, and is most effective when the contrasts are not too sharply defined or juxtaposed. Sombreness is achieved particularly through the use of colors reduced in intensity, making them more strongly neutral, with a dominance in darks, both in hue and value. This treatment of color is characteristic of a very large number of the old Dutch Masters of landscape painting, In the second half of the nineteenth century the development of Impressionism added another important and

9a expressive factor in the use of color.


sought to create a greater effect of atmosphere and light through the application of scientific principles to the use of color.

By the juxtaposition of small areas of pure

color, and the consequent blending,

through vibration of

light, that seemed to take place when viewed at a slight distance, greater luminosity and brilliance apparently re­ sulted.

The interest in Impressionism became very strong

during the period 1880 to about 1920, and many of its pro­ ponents became so enthusiastic over the uses and achieve­ ment of atmospheric effect that they quite lost sight of the importance of form, and to a very great extent, of design.

In American art the influence of Impressionism is

well indicated in the following paragraph by Abbott: During the last quarter of the century American land­ scape painters adopted the light colouration of the French Impressionists. Theodore Robinson (1852-1896) was a direct pupil of Monet. Twachtman, Weir, and Childe Hassam form a representative group. Twachtman (1853-1902) reached Monet by way of Munich, and his work was never without the sense of solidity. His composition is distinguished by fine design, no matter how evanescent and light the key. The poetic content is strong. Caffin says that Twachtman1s work "represents the effort of the artist to free himself from the encumbrance of the material by giving expression to the spirit that abides in matter." To an extent this is also true of Weir (1852-1919). The mellow beauty of Hew England in saturating sunlight acquires a stately cadence like that of poetry, the blue atmosphere sifts through all the colors and binds them together, as in the halcyon midday of "Ploughing for Buckwheat.” Childe Hassam (1859) more closely follows the technical practice of the French Im­ pressionists.-*1 Abbott, Edith R. The Great Painters3 p. 394. York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1927), 4^78 pp.


97 Other excerpts are much to the point in this dis­ cussions The number of painters since 1876 is so great that a mention of names is impossible.*.. As a whole American painting is still a reflection of European styles, and it is characterized in common with every other school of the day by a predominance of well-trained technicians accepting not only the practice of older generations, but viewing the world about them in very much the same way...* Other painters have found new types of design in the crowded thoroughfares of lower New York (Jerome Myers), or from the intoxicating brilliance of our atmosphere have caught novel suggestions for colour schemes (Maurice Prendergast). Still we are without a really great art. The painters whose tendencies are realistic and who gain strength from dealing with familiar aspects of life are too often lacking in design; those who charm by poetic qualities are too attenuated and remote. We have still to wait for the man big enough to interpret the spirit of his day in terms of pure design.1 The influence of Impressionism is also plainly ap­ parent in the expression of light and the use of color by such artists as George Bellows, Winslow Homer, J. S. Sargent


Jonas Lie, Homer Martin,

.Tucker, Alexander Wyant, W.L.

Metcalf, Er.W* Redfield in America, Vlaminck in France.

and of Degas, Derain, and

In the work of Monet, leader of Im­

pressionism in landscape, the effect of light and the use of color to achieve atmospheric effect is dominant, -- all other elements, including design, being secondary.

In the

painting of Van Gogh this is true to a lesser extent, his handling and use of paint being strongly Impressionistic, Ibid., pp. 394-395.


but his expressionistic use of medium and his utilization of certain design elements are at the same time largely responsible for the effect achieved. An older, and different method of using light effectively is that practiced in the technique of glazing. The method has been briefly described by Walter.


Glazing is the term for the method of laying a thin transparent color over a ground -- either a white or colored background so the one underneath shines through or numerous layers of the same color can be put on to make a deeper value. (Illustrated by layers of colored tissue paper). Scumbling consists of glazing with opaque color -- that is color that is not transparent — so the underground color does not show through. Transmitted color is always purer and richer than r e ­ flected color — that is the light that comes through a transparent film of color is richer than a light that is reflected from an opaque surface. All specular reflection (mirror-like from the surface) is sent back when color is held up before light. The white is sent back and all the color comes forward. The same is true with a stained glass window. If the observer is on the same side as the source of light he gets a specular reflection — but if he is on the opposite side of the window -- so the light comes through he gets a transmitted reflection.1 Other important factors in the expressiveness of landscape painting deal specifically in the handling of the medium and the use made of the tools required for its application to the painting surface. Mr. Sargent describes the methods briefly as follows: ^ Sargent, W a L t e £ f Notes on Lectures, courtesy of Amy W. McClelland, University of "Southern California, Los Angeles, California, 1922.

99 Methods of painting. 1. In the very early paintings white was used merely as a foundation or background to shine through the colors. The artist had to be very careful — for he depended on his white background for his lights and if they were once lost they were gone forever. A very brilliant effect could be gotten by the white background — for some of the colors put on top were almost as transparent as glass. 2. Then came the method of first painting with a neutral — then color. The original pattern was sketched in with a neutral color. All the lights came from the light background left. The transparent color was then put over this neutral sketch. Such a method allowed no freedom and the result was nothing but a colored drawing. Titian and Rubens usually painted most of their compositions in black and white -- then painted in color in a very conventional way from memory. That may be the reason they do not repre­ sent all the beautiful hidden colors in nature -- because they did not paint directly from nature. However, the black gains a certain quality of warmth after transparent colors are taken over it. Early artists went over with several coats and if they wanted to recover any white or light the paint had to be wiped off with a cloth. 3. The next break came when white was used — not merely as a foundation to shine through the colors — but was also mixed with the colors. This new method requires a new method of seeing and a different temperament -- and no doubt is the biggest step toward freedom but it is accompanied by a certain loss. Inness made the setting sun glow by painting a thin translucent red over a dry coat of white. This method is slow and requires much patience and so is not used by the impressionistic painters of today — for they paint very rapidly and direct from nature. The modern painter wants to catch the fleeting effects of a certain day and the atmosphere of certain days. Such painters are called Tonalists. Instead of fixing composition first — they painted right into it — usually putting down the predominat­ ing tone of the day first. For example — they established a golden tone for a golden spring day. They did not depend on the white underneath for the light -- but instead built up the white on top. This method allows much freedom — for the artist can lose his pattern -- then regain it. This method also explains how very possible it was for Inness to change sunsets into landscapes. Each stroke suggests some­ thing. The artist can modify the picture at any moment. This decided technical advance was experimented with mostly by H. W. Ranger, Inness, Tryon, E m o t Daingerfield and William Keith.

100 The modern artists also use another method called ftloading 11 or fVlBipa.s_to,t• The color is put on very thick — not trusting to the "background at all. It is often done with a palette knife. All these methods give the very wide range of modern landscape painting. These essential differences guide the style.1 The more widely used tools are the "brush and the palette knife.

A method used by a few artists, most notably

John Gostigan, is the squeezing of the paint directly from the tube onto the painting surface.

This method depends

almost wholly upon the use of Impressionistic principles. In the use of brush and palette knife the notable difference is in the texture, or quality of surface result­ ing, and in the thickness of the medium.

Certain design

effects may be realized from the use of the principles governing the application and handling of the medium. I•


The brush 1. Use of an assortment of brushes, varying in size, strength, and quality of bristle a. Variation or similarity in width, length, and direction of brush strokes to achieve rhythm, harmony, or variation in the pattern of strokes, as desired. b.

Variation in the thickness and consis­ tency of the medium.


Variation in texture of surface; rough, smooth, or glossy.

The palette knife 1. The use of a variety of sizes, as in the use of brushes, to achieve variation in width of strokes. Ibid.




Variation or similarity in the width and length of palette impressions.


Variation in the amount and consis­ tency of the medium.


All tones and values mixed on the palette, then directly applied.

Direct application from the tube. 1. Heavy, thick application of medium. Pure color, full intensity. Values obtained by juxtaposition to darker or lighter colors. Strong, Impressionistic technique.

The relative importance of these factors can only be determined by comparison and intelligent analysis.

In the

illustrations included in this and the following chapter certain significant characteristics have been pointed out, and their relationship to the expressive nature of the painting suggested.

Certainly the medium is the painter!s

most expressive element, a fact which is emphasized by Sargent, who says:

“The executive handling of the paint or

material itself leads us to the moods of the artist.


the actual handling of the paint tells more than the artist intended.

T “Ibid


H u b e r t V&H iliyCK


C o lle c tio n o f S ir F ra n c is C ook, E n g la n d

C•ib b b

In the massing of darks and lights this composition represents the use of horizontal bands*

In basic structure

the organization is governed by the use of concentric ellipses centered about the figure of the angel. forms the center of interest; strong light areas,

The angel

around it, and carried by the

is a primary ellipse which in turn is

enclosed by a secondary,

subordinate ellipse of large areas

of grays, or middle values.

The tone plan and the circum­

scribed ellipses are illustrated on the two following pages.


Tone plan The Holy Women at the Sepulchre A study of the tone composition reveals the manner in which the juncture of the middle and dark values carries the movement of the secondary ellipse.

Balance is

obtained by the use of strong diagonals carrying down from the upper left and right hand corners of the composition to the figure of the angel.

Figures at either end cf the tomb

are equally balanced on the right and left with the angel providing the center of balance.



a s

The h e a v y , black line indicates tlie horizontal division of light and da.rk masses*

The angel,

in the center,

is sur­

rounded by a. snail ellipse which defines the central area.. The heavier, dotted line indicates the primary ellipse while the lighter dotted' line indicates the secondary Both


ellipses approach, each other at three points; upper

left, upper right, where they are joined by the diagonal.,, and t at the lower right* while this is primarily a figure composi­ tion with a landscape background it illustrates the poten­ tiality of this type of composition.

It was composed at the

inception of landscape painting and consequently is import­ ant in the history of landscape art*


Autumn; Return of tlie Herds c. 1525 - 1569

Pieter Breughe3.

Breughel is notable for the introduction of decorative design in landscape painting.

He instituted genre painting,

and used animals, people, rocks,

trees, and in fact, all

manner of natural forms as material for decorative motifs. This composition divides the picture plane into two hori­ zontal bands, with a zig-zag line running completely through from back to front along which are arranged alternating triangular masses.

The largest triangle,

in the foreground,

contains men and animals organized into a rhythmic pattern of color and form. cf lesser interest.

The receding triang’les contain details Design and a strong sense of pattern is

notable in Breughe1 *s work.

His blues are rather harsh,


106 somewhat disagreeable, but what his paintings may lack in colcr harmony is more than offset by the excellence of design and decorative pattern. One of the most notable features of Autumn is the establishment of rhythms in the foreground pattern.

The vertically placed ffStT curves in the design of the figures and animals in the right foreground are repeated with progressive forward inclination until they parallel the line of the animal which carries into the group with which it is associated.

(a) The head of the first animal

acts as a center for the lines showing the contours of the


three animals directly in front of it.

(h) The movement is

nicely balanced by the figure leaning in from the left, and by the animal coming down the bank, which provides oppo­ sition for the next group of animals,

(c), as well as a

smooth transition across the corner of the picture.


strong, rhythmic repeats of curved lines in the foreground is opposed and balanced by the two rhythmic groupings of trees that carry the design from foreground to middle ground, and that also stop the strong outward movement of the diagonals on the left


1 08











-L u —

This composition, and organization than the

the zig-zag,


' n ;

although, more elaborate in design one Just discussed,

same structural plan and makes similar manner*

1- - v . )—


follows the

use ofdesign elements

in a

There is the horizontal division of space,

triangular organization of masses,

tive use of figures and animals,

the decora­

and the somewhat more

elaborate organization of rhythmic pattern*



El Greco is the first artist to record a definite mood of nature other than one of quiet, peaceful serenity. Although he apparently exerted no influence on the character or development of landscape painting during his own time his importance is recognized today, and he is considered almost modern in effect.

His strong, upward sweeping

rhythms impart a quality of surging,

spiritual turbulence

that otherwise remained unexpressed until the appearance of Van Gogh who utilized design elements in a similar manner to attain somewhat similar effects. Of late, El Greco has attracted a great deal of attention, as has Van Gogh.

For better comparison Van G o g h Ts

Landscape with Cypresses has been placed next to the View of Toledo, and a tracing showing the rhythmic line movements has been included.

The similarities and differences shown

in such a comparison are at once apparent. The treatment of textures and colors adds also to the differences of effect in the two paintings, the bright, sunny day of Van Gogh being sharply contrasted to the murky, gathering clouds and slightly weird light of El Greco.



/ i e' / o x


*•«V */h

G reco

154c ? - 1 6 ^ 5



M e tro p o lita n M useum , N e w York





1548?— 1635

In The View of Toledo the long, upward-sweeping, rhythmic lines reveal the powerful movement and disposition of masses held in an almost suspended state of animation. Opposed, as they are, to the shorter, more turbulent rhythms in the cloud design, the contrast is dramatic and most effective.

The cathedral spire, outlined sharply against

the dark and turbulent sky, adds greatly to the uplift of vertically moving lines and to the total dramatic effect.





T a te G a lle ry , London

In Landscape with. Cypresses there is revealed a more personal type of expression which is also turbulent in natu r e .

The rhythms are more abrupt in movement,

and they

follow horizontal and only slightly diagonal lines of move­ ment.

Animation has been given to the rhythms of peaceful,

floating cumulus clouds rather than to clouds gathering before a storm.

In the other natural forms,

the rhythms

have been made a part of rather static elements in nature with the resultant effect that they reveal what the artist feels about nature rather than a characteristic aspect or mood of nature•

•5 -i rr



L o u u re , P a ris THE




1 5 9 4 — 1 6 65

Poussin is referred to by many art historians as the ’’father” of French landscape painting.

Shepherds of Arcadia,

though not his best or most representative landscape,


trates clearly the combination of the landscape and classical elements; the transition taking place in the material and subject of art.

The classical influence

carries over into the work of Claude also, but to a lesser extent.

Poussin’s landscape is largely incidental to the

classic element; Claude’s classical element is incidental to the landscape. the naturalist.

Poussin is more the scholar;

Claude is more

Both greatly influenced the subsequent de­

velopment of French landscape painting.


' v; • >



L yn n e w o o d H u ll, Pa, TH E UNIVERSITY




l t ,O b- , * 6 9

Although Rembrandt was not primarily a landscape painter he produced a number of paintings and etchings on landscape subjects.

Because or his recognition as a painter

he undoubtedly influenced the trend of Dutch painting. Three outstanding characteristics that appear after Rem­ brandt are present in this composition.

They ares


The use of strong contrasts in light and dark.


A composition form enclosing a central light with

an outer dark area. 3.

The use of dark, rather brownish colors.


L o u v re , P a ris

J,v.Ruisdael is considered by many writers cn art and landscape painting to be the greatest of the old Dutch masters in landscape,

Michel records that Ruisdael inter­

preted nature very faithfully and it may be inferred from the following quotation that he took few liberties with nature in his compositions;

"His wanderings can be traced,

and even the very place where he sat down to point.


Brederode ruins, for instance, with their* enclosure and moat, and with the ivy clinging to the bricks,

are there

two hundred years later precisely as he painted themi*^

p. 147,

Miche 1, Emile, Great Masters of Landscape Painting, (Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott, 191C), 432 pp.


In tlie Entrance to the Forest the composition would be considerably improved if the fallen tree had been placed slightly nearer in the foreground —

about one-half the

distance to the lefthand corner, giving more spaciousness in the middle foreground, better transition across the corner, and a better entrance into the picture. This composition reveals the characteristics of Dutch landscape previously mentioned in Chapter I and also in connection with Rembrandtfs M i l l .

The colors are dark,

the contrasts are strong, and the central light area is enclosed by a surrounding dark. Hobbema, contemporary with Ruisdael, but who outlived the latter, was the last of the great Dutch masters.


painted very little after the age of thirty-two, although he produced The Avenue at the age of fifty-one. states:



as late as 1689 he produced his masterpiece,

The Avenue, Middleharnis, probably the most popular land­ scape that has ever been painted, and certainly in design one of the most perfect •tf**■ Because of the fact that The Avenue is so well known another of his landscapes is included in this study.

I H!ind, C. Lewis, Landscape Painting from Giotto to the Present D a y , Vol. 1, p. 202. (London, Chapman^ ifa 11, Ltd .7 1924), V. 1 - 286 pp.; V. 2 - 360 pp.



N a tio n a l G a lle r y , London T HE





1 6 3 8 -----1 7 09

In The Water-mill Hobbema employs a larger area of light than was used by many of the Dutch painters.


Cuyp was particularly notable in the use of light with which he invested his pictures with a golden, glowing atmosphere. Jan van de Cappelle achieved the unusual, also, in pearly clouds and luminous skies.


in one of his two

c„, landscapes, used the pinpoints of color that presaged

118 Ttpoint illismtf.**■

Aside from these intrusions into experiment

the Dutch did little else, once they had found a means of expression in landscape, cedure.

Hind remarks;

than follow the recognized pro­ l,Yet it cannot be said that Jacob

van Ruisdael advanced the art

of landscape.

it, made it vastly important,

as they would

eighteenth century.

He consolidated say in the

Ruisdael was a man of superb talents

rather than a man of genius.

Vermeer of Delft was a man of

genius .rf2 Credit should be given to the Dutch for developing marine painting.

Although sea-scapes were actually initiated

by a Flemish painter,

Julius Porcedis, who resided in

Holland from 1622-1632, by William Van de Velde,

it was developed to a high degree 1633-1707, who spent most of his

life in England. 1 Pointillism was developed by Georges Seurat, 18591891, of the French school. The following paragraph from A Treasury of Art Masterpieces, p. 510, edited by Thomas Craven (sTmon and Schuster, New York, 1939, 591 pp.) des­ cribes the method: Seurat painted by rule: he had laws for the emo­ tional properties of straight and curved lines; for the manufacture of gay, sad, and calm harmonies; and laws, taken from Helmholtz, for the translation of color into light. He applied his pigments in minute points, detached granules of color or tone, which, like the juxtaposed touches of the impressionists, were fused by the eye into optical mixtures. With the patience of genius, he covered large canvasses with thousands of circular specks, each premeditated and placed with exact knowledge of its action on contiguous specks. 2 Hind, C. Lewis, ojd c i t ., p. 195.






L yrm e Luuvd H a lt, Pa. THE UNIVERSITY



1 7 6 9 — 1821

After the great Dutch landscapists there was a period of comparative inactivity in which Watteau (1684-1721) showed brightly but rather ineffectually, in Prance, England, Richard Wilson (1714-1782)


served in much the same

capacity as had N. Poussin in Prance a century earlier, Gainsborough, contemporary with Poussin, and not so good a





N a tio n a l G a lle ry , Lor,don THE U N IVE R SIT Y





landscapist, was more important in that his influence did much to make landscape important*

Cozens instituted water-

color and Crome broke away from the wbrown tree11 of the Dutch*

Constable, rated as one of the few great landscapists

of all time, painted nature as he saw it, both in color and in form.

He made a direct contribution to the art in his

attention to detail by bringing back into landscape painting


some of the decorative element that had been used by Breughel.

A comparison of the work of the two artists,

Crome and Constable,

in the Harling Gate scene and The Corn

F i e l d , respectively, illustrates this point perfectly. Both compositions have almost identically the same form of composition and the same structural organization except that in Harling Gate the ,fStf curve moves through the left side of the picture, and in The Corn Field it moves through the right side.

There is as much difference in the decora­

tive quality of Crome and Constable as there is in decorative organization between Constable and Breughel. Constable,



can be found the organization of decorative

rhythms that were so ably utilized by Breughel...nor are they found in the work of any other landscape painter, for that matter.

Constable however, achieves something else.

He brings back to mind nthat scene greatly loved” , the opulence, kindliness, and beauty that exist in nature.


The Hay W a i n , Constable brings out everything in nature that makes one wish to spend a quiet afternoon, a life-time, perhaps,

in the country.

From the point of analysis, however, these state­ ments give only an idea of the general effect of Constablefs paintings, with particular reference to The Hay W a i n .






N a tio n a l G a lle r y , London



1 7 7 6 — 1837

general impression of nature as described above is due to several factors.

The long, rather smooth, line of the trees

on the distant horizon creates a feeling of quiet and repose which remains undisturbed by any opposing elements.


most effective opposition to the line of the horizon is found in the verticality of the large,

spreading tree which,

through its stately, majestic character only adds to the feeling of rest and quiet already engendered.

Other natural

elements add their contribution; the placidly flowing stream, the cottage,

sunny and vine-covered,

the broad and verdant

123 meadow, the warmth of bright sunshine and the coolness of deep shadow, the team leisurely crossing the stream with the dog interestedly but casually looking o n —


calm, unhurried -- nature in its deepest quiet and soulresting repose. In design, The Hay Wain achieves unity through the employment of large areas, the long, flowing lines of the horizon and the slightly diagonal stream.

The small detail

included simply serves as texture and decoration for the larger masses.

Harmony is gained through the use of simple

vertical and horizontal repeats and through a slow sequence in forms,

sizes, and values.

For those who enjoy landscape

in its most harmonious and peaceful aspects much can be learned from the study and analysis of the work of John Constable. Probably more has been written on the work and life of J. M. W. Turner than upon any artist and his work from the time of Turner to the present day.

Abbott gives a very

brief and excellent summary of the characteristics and influence of Turner*s work.1

Turner generally attempted to

achieve magnificence and unusualness in effect.

He was not

nearly so much concerned with stating what he observed in the facts of nature,

as he was in stating the effects of

Abbott, Edith R.

The Great Painters, pp. 333-355.

124 IAl t U A L L L K Y




those Tacts.

Where Constable was representational, Turner

was presentational.

Turner sought to interpret nature in

terms of brilliant color, dramatic contrasts, and glowing, enveloping light.

The magnificent,

the bizarre,

fantastic attracted him most strongly.

and the

Some cf the most

concisely descriptive characterizations of Turner’s work may be found in Cheney.

frAt his imaginative best -- when the

imagining does not become vaporous and vague -- he is a magic artist doing almost incredible things with psint1’.-1-

1" Cheney, Sheldon, A W orld History of Art, p. 784. (New York, Viking Press, 1937), S46 pp.

126 11By 1830 Turner had come to his second method* cast aside the restraints of ’’normal" sight. from the literal, to he romantic and dramatic.


He turned He recog­

nized new pictorial potentialities in light and colour ex­ ploited for their own sake."-** "One remembers vast Venetian canvasses that seem form­ less and lurid. But in the field of water-colours the lyric impulse resulted in the loveliest opalescent trifles in the entire range of Western painting. The series of Alpine views includes examples of ethereal handling of colours and composing in abstract shadowy fabrics which are utterly delightful. Their luminous, fragile, insubstantial beauty is hardly paralleled even in Oriental portfolios.."2 The following paragraph is particularly descriptive of the abstract and evanescent quality of Turner*s work. Perhaps one must have retained a child-like, romantic tenderness of mind to enjoy these things that are "all mist and mystery"; or it may be, as some of us believe, that occasionally an artist does, by means of color and pattern, plane and volume, manipulated as near-abstractions, speak directly to faculties nearer the spiritual than the in­ tellectual centers of our being -- and that Turner in his most felicitous water-colours achieves this aim. The transcriptive value, the familiar or picturesque aspect of crag and cloud, waterfall or tree, has little to do with our response. Rather the enchanting colour melodies and the slight formal rhythms form a tissue of visual delight, apart from all associative thought.3 This study has been concerned more with what Turner has

done to gain the particular effects that have stimulated

so much interest

and comment. In paintings like Calais

Cheney, Sheldon, 2 Ibid., p. 786. 3 rbid., p. 786.

0 £.

c i t ., p. 785.



the effect is due to good composition, powerful design, and great technical proficiency,

all of which yield to analysis

on the "basis of principles previously explained and illus­ trated in this study. painting, however,

In the more evanescent type of

such as Cheney so profusely describes in

the preceding quotations, the effect is due to other elements effectively handled. In the Illustration used as an example,

(p. 124),

Rocky Bay with Classic Figures, the composition is based on radiation with the center of interest in almost the exact vertical center of the picture, accomplished by four con­ verging triangles; one cutting in from each side including dominant and subordinate land masses, a strong triangle in the foreground including both land and water, and a triangle of sky that meets the horizon from above.

The design is

simple but strong, the decorative elements consisting in surface embellishment of the large masses.

The picture de­

pends almost wholly upon the effect gained by the use of color and values for its expressive character.

These are

used in much the same manner in many of T u r n e r 1s compositions of this type.

The more brilliant colors are kept in the fore

ground, and are strongly neutralized, but for the most part held in lighter values as they recede into the distance. The strongest contrast in value appears at the center of

127 interest making it to appear as the source of light entering and diffusing itself over the rest of the picture.


become more suffused as they approach the foreground, juxtaposed contrasts are carefully avoided.


As a conse­

quence the more brilliant accents of color in the foreground maintain the aerial perspective, while the picture seems to be filled with a glowing light that becomes a part of every object.

One color is dominant throughout —

a warm color

balanced and opposed by a cool color in which the dark value provides the necessary contrast in tone.

It is a

method that is tricky rather than difficult, and is not, as stated by Hind,

Cheney, and others, impossible to analyze.

T u r n e r ’s expression, in terms of light, stimulated the interest that led to the development of Impressionism, which appears at a later period.

Before the Impressionists,

but important as an intervening development, appear the Barbizon painters, chief of whom are Corot, Millet, and Rousseau, The estimate of Corot is similar as it appears in diverse histories,

A b b o t t !s is typical, and to the point:

MIt is as poet that Corot is the greatest landscape painter France has produced, and he is most the poet when nearest to the soil. Ville d ’Avray with the river and screen of trees is sufficient material for numberless lyrics. He shows moors drenched in light against which is tenderly etched the vibrant form of an isolated tree and he gives it



f*Pays age:T

the unforgettable quality of a verse by Tagore.1,1 His use of color is also well described by Abbott: ,fEis colour never varied greatly from the neutral hue, and many of his works might be described as symphonies in olive and grey. It is a grey modulated from the cool blue of French skies through neutral tones of silvered poplar, gaining by juxtaposition subtle nuances of violet and blue. If his scheme verges on monotony, a touch of clear blue or gold counts by contrast as a staccatto note.**2 Corotrs pictures are bathed in suffused light, but the effect is different from that achieved by Turner, and is due to a difference in treatment.

In Corot!s work both the

strongest colors and the strongest values are held in the foreground, with distinct divisions of the large masses of ^ Abbott, Edith R., on. c i t ., p. 363. 2 Ibid., p. 362.



mum *-





dark and light.





There are neither brilliant colors nor

strong contrasts in value, and the suffused light shows behind and through the darker masses, which are never heavily solid or indicative of massive thickness as a whole.


is consequently a feeling of airy lightness, misty in treatment and effect, that is responsible for the poetic effect.



L o u v re , P a ris THE






18 67

chief nature painter of the Barbizons, was

strongly influenced by the Dutch.

In treatment of detail

he is much like Constable, in contrasts, very similar to Ruisdael.

The composition here illustrated is one of the

typical examples described in Chapter III (p. 57).



L o u v rs ■ P a ris THE






Millet stands out as the exponent., in landscape painting, or man's relationship to nature and his dependency on the soil.

His compositions are simple and spacious,

with the landscape serving as the inseparable background for the activity of the figures.

Louvre, Paris T HE




I B I S — 1B 77

Courbet interprets the realistic quality of nature and paints as he sees.

The near-distance represented in The

Stay fs Thleket gives the effect of an intimate close-up of nature realistically painted as few might have the privilege of seeing it.

Ilis accuracy of observation and his excellent

choice of subject make his compositions outstanding in the field cf realistic painicing.


M useum o f F in e A rts , Boston UN IV E R S I T Y



Monet is intrinsically a colorist* ■brilliant color organized in masses*

He used gay,

There is little design

and little expression of form in his paintings.

He is one

of the best examples of a painter who relied upon other factors outside the field of design for the expression of feeling and thought in interpreting nature.

His pictures

are filled with atmosphere achieved wholly by subtle color relationships worked out on the basis of the Impressionistic style and technique of painting.

13 4

!'.* v*f *


_ .




The Ve; etable Gardens, while representing one of Van G o g h !s more peaceful interpretations, of the painter in every respect.

is otherwise typical

Craven1s summary is

tersely apt: ”Working at white heat,

lashing the canvas with

streaks of heavy pigment, with colors of undiluted intensity and strained silhouettes, he painted with primitive direct­ ness and the simplicity of a c h ild,

.Technically, he


a unity of

surface by means oflinear balance and

areas of


color after the manner of the Japanese

p r i n t s .u ^ ^ p. 542,

Craven, Thomas. A Treasury of Art Masterpieces, (New York, Simon end Schuster, 1939T7 521 p p •


Van Gogh, if* a summary were to be made of all the comments and criti-cisms published in recent years, repre­ sents one of the high points in expressive, creative art. His great contribution in the field of modern art lies in his use of intense color and his expressive use of thick paint.

His brush strokes reveal an intensity of personal

feeling, as well as an expression of form and texture.


may be said of him, almost without fear of contradiction, that he represents the ultimate achievement to the time of the present, in the pure expressiveness of the medium.


of his compositions reveal a basic understanding of design, which, combined with his expressive power, place his paint­ ing on a very high level of achievement. If Van G o g h fs great contribution to landscape paint­ ing lay in the disclosure of a more expressive use of the medium, Cezanne's lay in the fact that "....he emphasized, not the surfaces, but the organic structure -- the rigid land set against the density of the sea, and the whole as simply stated as a primitive painting....His art was instrumentally fertile, wide open to technical developments; and his influence on his successors could hardly be overestimated. His aims were identical with those of the masters:

to create

a rich, full, amply dimensioned world in the mass and depth of which one might undergo experiences comparable in force


I.’ Sstaque


with those of practical life.*1-^ ,rIt is not a pretty snapshot, and the color balance of the upper areas of sea and sky was net finally realized -but it does represent nature on a vast scale,

serene and un­

encumbered, and with much of the monumental about it.11"'

x Craven, Thomas, S H 1d ., p. 530.

o p . c i t ., p. 530.


TfVillage Street”


Originally one of !tLe Fauves” , Vlaminck is recognized today as one of the '"solid moderns’1' in art#

His use of in­

tense color is remindful of the painting of Van Gfogh, but his technique, characteristic of the palette knife, gives smoother and larger color areas, with sharp contrasts#


composition is simple but strong, and his design effective through its simple rhythms.

The use of design elements can

be easily traced in the organization of space, tone, mass, shape, direction,

and color.

138 CHAPTER V COMPOSITION AND DESIGN AS USED IN PAINTINGS OP SELECTED AMERICAN ARTISTS It lias been stated repeatedly by writers of art history that American art is a reflection or counterpart of European art.

To those who are at all familiar with the

development of art in America the story is one that needs no repetition.

That part which has not been told *well or

often, deals more specifically with the art of the present day.

Homer Saint Gaudens tells something of the story of

this latter day in f,The American Artist and His Time s. Even here there is much that has not been told, and cannot be until the story of the men who create the art of today is related sympathetically and more in detail. such an account remains yet to be written.

As history,

As a study In

composition, design, color, and technique, however, the important facts, the new developments, and the trends toward an art of the future are already stated in terms of the paintings of today. Prom the time of the Hudson River school in landscape painting to the present day the trend toward a more 1 Saint Gaudens, Homer. The American Artist and His Times (New York, Dodd, Mead and Company, 1941), 331 pp.


independent art has been growing in America.

Each new d e ­

velopment in Europe has made its contribution to the art of this country.

In the gay nineties however, according to

the story told by Saint Gaudens, America began to pull away from dependence upon European tradition, and has become in­ creasingly self-reliant.

While European traditions have

been assimilated and new movements incorporated into American art, American traditions have been in a process of upbuild­ ing, and stand today upon the threshold of independent expression. W ith unsettled conditions abroad throttling further development in art on the European continent, the future of art rests largely in the hands and the genius of American artists of today. Through the lengthening of communication, the shorten­ ing of distance, the destruction of isolation by modern science and invention, the times and the world have changed. Into this world of change' - the world of today - there have come the ever-increasing speed of the automobile and the aeroplane, with the startling effectiveness of their stream­ lined contours.

Add to this the hum and whir and tumult of

modern machinery, the penetrating,

structural incisiveness

of the modern skyscraper, the chaotic mulling of a New York subway crowd, the simplicity of operation and organized

multiplicity of the modern machine,

the dazzling lights and

the intoxicating blur of color, all of which may combine to make one impression of sight and sound and movement, and one has a picture to try the combined genius of all the great artists the world has ever known. Whether any man can possess the genius to express more than a fraction of the picture presented by the life of today is a question that only time can answer.

If there

be any such, he shall have to possess mastery of technique, composition, design, all the skills requisite for the 6x* pressive mastery of his medium, and a genius for interpreting the life and color of his time.

To such an one, this world

of swift change and enigmatic movement provides an era of opportunity and challenge. If the art of today is to possess any great sense of vitality it must reflect the spirit and the tempo of the time —

it must be a part, in terms of planes, lines, and

rhythms, of basic forms and concepts, of its age.


must be reflected in the art of modern America the soul of the modern age.

In it there must be revealed the thrust and

pull of almost incomprehensible forces, and something of all this will be revealed in landscape painting.

It is to be

expected that from the knowledge of composition and design revealed by the great masters of painting, and from the contributions of science in the use of color and the under­

141 standing of the qualities of light, that new mastery in painting will appear.

Coupled with the study of planes and

organic structure represented "by the work of Cezanne, and the expressive handling of the medium as revealed in the painting of Vlaminck and Van Gogh, there should develop a mastery of painting — in other forms of art —

of expression in landscape as well as that will exceed anything the world

has ever known. Progress is based upon the developments of the past. This is as true in art and in landscape painting as it has been in science.

The particular contribution of this study

has been, through the preceding chapters, to pull together in an organized presentation, some of the vital but rather scattered elements and principles upon which good painting has been based.

Chapter V has been organized to show what

developments have taken place in America, and to explain in further detail how the principles of composition and design have been utilized, along with developments in technique, in creating the landscape art that has appeared to the present day. It has been impossible, for the very adequate reason previously quoted by Abbott (because of the vast number of painters since 1876), to make this an intensive study.


have been included, however, some few of those who have been


important in directing the course and furthering the deve­ lopment of this important art in America as well as reference to certain artists whose paintings illustrate important aspects in landscape art. While it is doubtful whether either George Puller or the painters of the Hudson River school had much direct in­ fluence on the actual development of American landscape painting,

they are important in that they made a beginning.

The painters of the Hudson River school were photographic in their representation of detail in nature.



11About 1800 came these men who began to paint land­


They painted the country as they saw it and left

the result to God.

Cole was one of the first to state that

landscape was important.”1

The point of view of these men

is also described by Neuhaus who says:

”The point of view


represented by the Hudson River men still lingers among those who believe that the aim of landscape painting is to rival the work of the camera in its registry of facts and in a certain smoothness of finish which disregards the textural differences of things in nature.

Of the plastic quality of

form and color they had no idea, and their paintings are consequently thin in spirit and

a p p e a r a n c e

There was

1 Sargent, Waii&efc, Notes on Lecture s 9 courtesy of Amy W. McClelland, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. California, 1922. 2 Neuhaus, Eugen. The History and Ideals of American Art (Stanford University Press, 1931), 444 pp. P. 72.

143 also the traditional influence described by Sargents Even in early American painting--the grip of the Italian tradition held over by the fathers of American landscape painting. Thomas Doughty* s (1793) ff0n the Hudson** and Asher B. Durand* s nIn the Woods** still show the grip from Italy through Titian. Thomas Cole*s (1801) "Landscape** still shows too much detail. Thomas Cole represented views just as he saw them. He recorded too many detailed things around the center of interest.-*The next great influence in the development of American landscape painting came in the form of spectacular scenery.

Two painters are of especial note in the group who

devoted themselves to it, namely, Frederick E. Church (18261900), and Albert Bierstadt (1828-1902), both of whom acted as pioneers in the movement, while others, notably Thomas Hill (1829-1913), Thomas Moran (1837-1926), and Robert Gifford (1840-1905), were important in maintaining an inter­ est in this type of scenery.

Inspiration for the spectacular

scenery can be traced to the influence of Munich where: ’’The king of Bavaria... .got a great painter named Corne­ lius to paint great frescoes. Cornelius painted scenes that were so sensational that they were amusing. The king en­ couraged him to go on. The result was that the Munich public buildings were overpressed with these huge frescoes. Munich became very popular. Artists went to Munich to study. All this had a great effect on our landscape painters. The American artists who wanted a new grandeur of technique started in with grand sweeping lines.... There was another influence from the Dusseldorf school in Germany....The Dusseldorf school put the students through a careful study of methods, but the pictures were lyrical and sentimental..2 Sargent, Walter 2 Ibid.


op . cit.


Church and Bierstadt were particularly influenced by these schools.

This influence, coupled with the discovery

of gold in California...."affected not only those who went but also those who stayed. The Rocky Mountains gave the artists a new way of seeing, and as they had this new tech­ nique from Germany--they could tackle these big, new scenes. The style of painting changed for a w h i l e • Too much detail was shown--due to the Dusseldorf influence The truly adventurous spirit of the painters of spectacular scenery was in itself a definite contribution to landscape art. It should be remembered that in 1846 the western boundary of the United States was still the boundary of the Louisiana Purchase.

Also, the country was still looked upon

as part of nThe Great American Desert" which one crossed only at the risk of o n e 1s life.

These painters of specta­

cular scenery were hardy in body and spirit.

Church traveled

over the greater part of the West, and traveled to South America and north to Labrador as well.

Bierstadt traveled

for months by covered wagon through Colorado and California. Thomas Moran joined an exploration party to the Yellowstone and then went to the Grand Canyon. for his paintings of California, far afield as Africa.

Thomas Hill became famous

and Robert Sifford went as

The immediate success of these men

stimulated great pride in Americans for their western empire. i_I b i d .




M e t r o p o li t a n M us eu m o f A r t . N e w York THE


CH U R C H .

18 2 6 — 19 00

In his use of light Church hears some resemblance to Turner, hut unlike Turner who created one unified effect, Church attempted to show all the detail in his entire compo­ sition.

As in all other countries in which landscape deve­

loped those who led the way had to struggle through a maze of difficulties.

Had Church heen a follower rather than a

leader, or....**Had he heen able to adopt a painter-like attitude such as Stuart displays in his portraits or Inness in his landscapes, he might have heen a really great artist.'*-1’

Weuhaus, Eugen, op. cit., p. 81.