Art History 21

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1. Discuss the impact of photography on the nineteenth-century landscape. How did it affect painting? What were the political implications of the medium? Use examples to support your essay.

Landscape painting was a particularly effective vehicle for allegory because it allowed artists to make fictional subjects appear normal, conditioned, acceptable, or destined. Art was not just about the landscape, it actually allowed the spirit of the painter to come alive in their work. The allegory was for moral and spiritual concerns. The introduction to photography therefore impacted 19th century landscape in a manner that was found to be unacceptable because personal intertwinement of expression and emotion could not come from photography. Photography represented the optical fact. Previously, the emphasis was on fictional visuals. Realism becomes the dominant style in the 19th century and the optical truth expands as ideas and exploration of science and technology develop. The most important optical device was the camera. The impact of the camera, invented shortly before the mid-19th century, was revolutionary. The camera was a revolution of visible objects and, among other uses, became a very useful tool for recording. People became intrigued with the ease of capturing the moment and the accuracy these images could provide. The middle class especially welcomed the modern form of art because it cost less. Photography was a significant accomplishment that changed the public’s perceptions of ‘reality’. The impact and issues in perceptions of reality and realism were addressed in the movement that followed Romanticism, Realism. Artists aimed for middle class patrons because they held a strong and powerful position, but also because the lower costs would expand artist’s audiences and potential buyers. This would reduce sales in paintings which had some artists furious. The response to photography stemmed back to traditional art. Many artists believed traditional forms of pictorial representation originating in Renaissance should remain the dominate practice in art. Revolting artists found photography to be a mechanism capable of displacing the true art and beauty in paintings. Some famous artists accepted photography such as “Delacroix, Edgar Degas and Gustave Courbet.” (p. 678. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, the Western Perspective. 12th Ed.)

2. Compare Constable’s The Haywain with Bierstadt’s Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California. What are the sociopolitical overtones of each work, and how do they represent their respective countries and environments?

Constable (English landscape artist) and Bierstadt both incorporate oneness with nature throughout their work. The zest of Bierstadt and Constable was conveyed in the manner of nature as allegory. Delicate brush strokes are implicated on both pieces and portray scenes of tranquility. Although Constable’s The Haywain is more painterly, the paintings both easily capture the texture that the atmosphere gives to the landscape. The use of light in Bierstadt’s Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, and the small white strokes against darker shades in Constable’s The Haywain, creates a suggestive movement in both pieces. Each piece persuades a genuinely accurate landscape and an aura of reality. Both artists allow the viewer to have a sense of participation in the landscape’s being, not just a sense of observing. Neither art work depicts the civil uneasiness of the agricultural working class and outbreaks of violence that were resulting from the Industrial Revolution. Industrial Revolution impacted the evolution of romantic landscape painting in England. Although discussion of the Industrial Revolution focuses on technological advances, factory development etc., its effects on the countryside and the land itself were still severe. The economic impact industrialization had on the prices of agricultural...
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