The earliest forms of art depict little that could really be called landscape - rough outlines of the mountains, trees, rivers. Frescos depicting the nature of The Minoan civilization of around 1500 BCE., are the first works of art that can be more or less considered as landscapes.
An essential element of ancient landscape paintings and mosaics was a human figure. Landscapes of the Hellenistic period suggested using some rough system of perspective or scaling for distance, but unfortunately no examples have survived. However, a few Ancient Roman frescos and mosaics of landscapes , from the 1st century BCE have survived and have been preserved at archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the towns, that were destroyed in the volcanic eruption.
Shan shui, the traditional Chinese painting using a brush and ink was the first “pure” landscape painting in which the only sign of human life was a sage, or a glimpse of his hut.
In the Middle Ages landscape almost disappeared from the art – icon painters usually neglected background, but if it was necessary to fill some space, they depicted nature rather simply, without many details.
The development of landscape as an independent painting genre took place in the Renaissance, when artists took up painting from nature and work on a system of graphical perspective. Italian artists aimed at emphasizing at harmony between nature and human, in in their cityscapes they tried to depict their own concepts of ideal architectural space.
In the 17th century landscape became an independent genre, thanks to the painters of the Dutch School, who created a system of tonal values and rules of atmospheric perspective by painting from nature in the 16th century (Pieter Bruegel in the Netherlands) and especially in the 17th-18th centuries (Rembrandt, Jacob van Ruisdael in the Netherlands). In the 19th century landscape-painters’ discoveries, achievements of pleinarism (Camille Corot in France, I. Levitan, V. Serov, I. Shishkin in Russia) resulted in great achievements of impressionism (E. Manet, O. Renoir, C. Monet in France), that gave birth to new ways of presenting changes in atmospheric environment, the nature’s subtle alterations and the variety of bright colours.
as Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguinб Vincent van Gogh and many others managed to expand emotional and associational qualities of landscape painting. The Russian landscape painting traditions were enriched by K. Yuon, N. Roerich, A. Ostroumova-Lebedeva, A. Kuprin and others.
Different kinds of landscape painting
According to the scenery depicted, there are a few kinds of landscape paintings:
Village landscape has always been admired by many landscape-painters, who were attracted by the purity and wilderness of the countryside fascinating by its grandeur and peace.Cityscape is a depiction of dynamic atmosphere of everyday urban life. Main subject matters in such a landscape are city views: streets, bridges, squares, buildings, memorials and also suburban and industrial areas, building sites and rail yards.
Winter landscape represents the beauty of the most mysterious season – the winter. In paintings of Russian artists (V. Vasnetsov, I. Levitan, S. Zhukovsky, K. Korovin, I. Shishkin, K. Yuon) the winter is a fairy period of the peaceful grandeur of the nature, which is sleeping muffled in a blanket.
Summer landscape is bright colours of the flourishing nature, the sun, the living grass and flowers. For every painter the summertime is an inexhaustible source of inspiration, which allows painters to find themselves and depict their view of life on canvas not limiting their means of artistic expression.
Seascape (marina) is a depiction of sea view, sea battles or any other events taken place on the sea. As an independent kind of landscape, seascape became in the 17th century in the Netherlands. The most remarkable representatives of seascape painting are W. Terner and I. Aivazovsky, who created about 6.000 marine paintings.