Where did all the great fine art landscape painters come from?
04/08/11Why did England give birth to some of the greatest fine art landscape painters of all time? Think Constable, Turner, Samuel Palmer, Paul Nash and John Piper and you have most of the great landscape artists of our time and they are English. But how come?
In my view it is the English obsession with everything rural. Even now urbanites fantasise about the countryside as a place where sorrow is banished, every summer is the summer of love, every life is the good life and every life is simple.
The English obsession for land ownership compounds the issue. Land represented visible economic wealth, social status and as it brought the vote, access to political authority. As the legendary A. P McBennett would say "Do you have the freehold?". It is highlighted today by the requirement to have at least something of a garden regardless of the size of the house.
Families colonised villages and made their crib. People were passionate for field sports and during the Napoleonic Wars, England itself was discovered disguised as the Wye Valley and the Lake District. With an absolute revulsion for the Industrial Revolution our great landscape artists appeared and captured the"utopia" of the past.
For England it has always been about landscape and that is why the Industrial revolution has been exspunged from our nation's identity. Even Tony Blair's attempts to write it into our identity failed miserably with the Millenium Dome. Will we ever forget the dear old Queen's face sat next to the intolerable Blair's?
Identity exists in the imagination and the time-hallowed and deeply cherished green landscape of rural England. Thanks to the legacy of Constable, Turner and others it will live with us forever in harmony with one another and nature.
Chris Sabian is a portrait artist with www.kutefineart.com/ and owner of www.paragonprints.co.uk/