The main character, Rugendas, thinks he's going to the pampas to paint truly "natural" scenes - to implement some sort of artistic "process", but once he find himself on trackless terrain the gonzo elements take over, making his whole aesthetic process mimicked by the pseudo-biographical process of the narrative insufficient, if not totally meaningless. Credit to Aira for making this transition from a certain school of realism to the complete repudiation of any such school subtle and credible. Give him all the Nobels. At the half point of the book lightning strikes, and the subjectivity of Rugendas gets totally scrambled.
The second half of the book essentially undoes the first half. All attempts towards reason even on the level of the sentence pretty much go out the window - which is remarkable, considering how successful the initial narrative was at establishing its pseudo-scientific bona fides. Instead the furious, almost demented activity of Rugendas tries in vain to establish some new kind of cosmology in the place of his destroyed aesthetics, and all kinds of wackiness ensues: Indian attacks, stockings worn as a mask to blot out the sun, complete breakdowns of perspective, space and time - heady stuff.
This might sound dry, or overly cerebral, but it isn't. It's madcap, disorienting, and delightful to read - without losing sight of the "themes" whatever that means established early on. A dizzying, impressive book, and maybe the most interesting 88 page book I've ever read. Aug 08, Jimmy rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: sophie. Shelves: years , argentina , novel , male. Part fiction, part non-fiction, part poetic description, part philosophy. Aira examines the depths of history, the meaning of repetition, reproductions and its role in art, compensation, and much more, and in the context of a very specific, relatable person and his predicaments.
Often zooming into an idea or description with intense precision, then moving on, this book is able to contain big ideas without sounding pretentious, or bloated. In fact, the entire book is less than 90 pages, though it Part fiction, part non-fiction, part poetic description, part philosophy. In fact, the entire book is less than 90 pages, though it tells a story that could be told in pages. It's really some of the best writing I've read.
Also, I had no idea it wasn't a completely true story, because it was told as if it was pieced together from accounts and letters. But there were points where he could not have been so intimately in the character's head. Only after I read it did I find out that this is a perfect combination of history and novelistic invention. Some excerpts: Peaks of mica kept watch over their long marches. The company of volcanos gave the sky interiors. Dawn and dusk were vast optical explosions, drawn out by the silence.
Slingshots and gunshots of sunlight rebounded into every recess. Grey expanses hung out to dry forever in colossal silence; airshafts voluminous as oceans. The mules were driven by human intelligence and commercial interests, expertise in breeding and blood-lines. The infinite orography of the Cordillera was a laboratory of forms and colors. View all 5 comments. Dec 24, Tanuj Solanki rated it liked it Shelves: latin-america , argentina , e-book.
From Naturalism to Surrealism I agree with The New Yorker when they say that Cesar Aira's prose can be 'slapdash and perfunctory,' but it is his fertility for metaphysical speculation that, for me, more than 'compensates. The painter Rugendas, his friend Kraus, and the author Aira clearly grounded in a modern era - the three take keep From Naturalism to Surrealism I agree with The New Yorker when they say that Cesar Aira's prose can be 'slapdash and perfunctory,' but it is his fertility for metaphysical speculation that, for me, more than 'compensates.
The painter Rugendas, his friend Kraus, and the author Aira clearly grounded in a modern era - the three take keep taking turns at being the subject, sometimes within a single paragraph. The novel's subject, or theme, also keeps on changing continuously. A central debate repeats though: Is art reconstruction or construction, and if it is reconstruction, what is the gap between art and reality, and if it is construction, is what it makes also real? Rugendas seems to lean toward the constructive notion of art, a departure from his initial notion of being a landscape painter.
This departure is fueled no less by a rather bizarre event in the middle of the novella, one which leaves the painter with a face that is no face, a face that is, as Aira seems to posit, like the insides of reproductive organs badly drawn. It is here that we most clearly see a faint manifesto for Surrealism, that an image is always a construction, for its likeness in reality is only a matter of imagination.
It is this surrealistic leaning that endears Roberto Bolano to Cesar Aira, the former having written an introduction to this novella. Jan 21, Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing. The graph of temperature against the hours of the day was sinuous, but not unpredictable. Nor, in fact, were their visions. The mountains filed so slowly past that the mind amused itself devising constructivist games to replace them. He had ensconced himself in a world of fables and fairy tales, which had taught him nothing of practical use, but at least he had learnt that the story always goes on, presenting the hero with new and ever more unpredictable choices.
Poverty and destitution would simply be another episode. Or is reality twisted by the narrator? Or is this distortion of reality the sum of shifted mentalities both of the author and the character? In any case this magically warped reality enhances an artistic vision of the world.
Jul 20, Ben Winch rated it really liked it Shelves: latin-american , argentine. Could it be that the novella - not the short story - is the pre-eminent literary artform the form most accommodating to the search for perfection? As focused and taut almost as a classic short story, yet discursive and atmospheric as few stories can be, An Episode Sure, it starts dryly, and for the first 10 or so pages it's so information-dense you may wonder where the art is, but soon enough a Could it be that the novella - not the short story - is the pre-eminent literary artform the form most accommodating to the search for perfection?
Sure, it starts dryly, and for the first 10 or so pages it's so information-dense you may wonder where the art is, but soon enough as his protagonists reach the Andes Aira's descriptive powers kick in and you realise he's hooked you: Dawn and dusk were vast optical explosions, drawn out by the silence. For those who've read another novella seriously suggestive of perfection - Georg Buchner's 19th century genre-definer Lenz - the tone may seem familiar, and it's tempting to think Aira had Lenz in mind as he wrote this.
In some ways, too, he supercedes that hyper-real but youthful and overwrought 'descent into madness' tale, by choosing a subject whose cataclysm is more-easily describable in three dimensions. Along with the shimmering yet exact, vivid sense of place, there are dramatic scenes here that made me shiver or laugh in exhilarated disbelief. It's entertaining, it's a ride, it's well-written and it suggests like a good short story a trajectory that continues after the last page.
Still, like a short story, a novella often benefits from being collected with others of its kind, and until I've read a couple more of Aira's I don't think I'll be confident that I've begun to grasp what makes him tick. It's not Alvaro Mutis's The Snow of the Admiral , but then that was a novella so good that when it was collected with others they all paled in comparison. If Aira really has 80 of these little books then, maybe, he's some kind of a discovery.
But that would also explain why this book doesn't quite feel 'singular', but like another episode in the development of a writer of novellas. My advice? Read it, before you've had a chance to read too much about it. I liked it; time will tell whether I love it. Jan 01, Laysee rated it liked it. In this tightly written story, Aira cleverly wove fiction with fact while documenting a brief period in the life of the well-known German landscape painter, Johann Moritz Rugendas — Rugendas was a genre painter. His genre was the physiognomy of nature, based on a procedure invented by one of his teachers, Alexander von Humboldt, who was a great naturalist painter.
A physiognomic representation of nature was intended to apprehend the world in its totality and to provide an aesthetic understanding of the world. On that fateful trip, Rugendas met with a horrific accident while seeking to immortalize the Argentinian pampas. Flung off his horse in a severe thunderstorm, he sustained severe injuries to his head which left his face brutally disfigured. The description of raw facial nerves being exposed and the neurological complications that ensued was medically accurate.
One blow and it was broken forever, like a porcelain vase. In an ironically compensatory fashion, following the loss of a normal-looking face, Rugendas became even more finely attuned to nature and sensitive to the beauty he was capturing in his sketches and paintings perhaps on account of the copious amount of morphine used as treatment for unearthly pain. I imagine an artist or art historian will find Aira's book illuminating and fascinating. This is my first Aira and I look forward to reading more of his writing. Dec 28, Laura Leaney rated it it was amazing.
This is such a tiny gem. Exactly 88 pages of lovely prose. On the surface, the story is about Johann Moritz Rugendas, a nineteenth century landscape painter and what happened to him during his foray into Argentina to paint the landscape. More specifically, to paint the landscape by seeing "the processes of growth operative in all forms of life. Here's a description of the landscape that Rugendas saw, accordin This is such a tiny gem. Here's a description of the landscape that Rugendas saw, according to Aira: "Urgent, impertinent birds flung outlandish cries in the tangled vegetation, guinea fowl and hairy rats scampered away before them, powerful yellow pumas kept watch from rock ledges.
And the condor soared pensively over the abysses. There were abysses within abysses and trees rose like towers from the deep underground levels. They saw gaudy flowers open, large and small, some with paws, others with rounded kidneys of apple flesh. In the streams there were siren-like molluscs and, at the bottom, always swimming against the current, legions of pink salmon the size of lambs. He is hit by lightning.
Aira takes this account and forms it into something both realistic and surreal simultaneously. Everything is filled with electric energy and soft edges. Rugendas is painting under the influence of opiates and extreme pain, and the writing captures both the twisted agony and the beauty of the painter's journey. The book is a contemplation. What it contemplates is the surprise - and I found it thought provoking and moving.
Aug 11, Cody rated it it was amazing Shelves: the-plains , latin-america , favorites , travel , visual-art. A negotiation between artist, medium, and subject, often the goal is to shrink the distance between representation and represented. But can this gap ever be fully brought to a close? If abyss sounds daunting, it is, though Aira insists that this is no cause for worry. When successful, divisions become blurred to such a degree that it becomes unclear--and, frankly, unimportant--which is art and which is life.
So, is it worth it? May 31, Tony rated it liked it Shelves: argentinian , art. Tell that to Johann Moritz Rugendas and his unfortunate horse. One is when he is hit by lightning The other is when Indians attack in Argentina. Rugendas is already deformed. So he wears a mantilla over his head. And he paints the raid. And after the raid. I read this, I admit, because of the title. I had n view spoiler [They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place.
I had never read Aira and had never heard of Rugendas. You should check him out. But the title is a bit misleading. Rugendas could paint a landscape. Rugendas, a German painter, was intense. If Aira has painted him correctly, Rugendas was single-minded and focused before the, uh, episode. More so after. It was almost as if he understood he only had so much time. Which was true. And he had this need, unspoken, to document what he saw.
And he saw more than landscapes. He saw more than Indian raids. He saw people. People as part of the landscape of history. Oct 09, Jim Elkins rated it really liked it Shelves: argentine. A stupendous novel, a real achievement in a very brief compass.
The 18th century was also a great age for the topographical print, depicting more or less accurately a real view in a way that landscape painting rarely did. Landscape prints were also popular, with those of Rembrandt and the experimental works of Hercules Seghers usually considered the finest. Neo-romanticism Neo-romanticism is a term applied to the imaginative and often quite abstract landscape based painting of Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland Rassie van der Dussen shoots up ICC batting rankings It is a place of accomplished experiences, an adventure for the eyes… if you are able to see the same familiar sights and discover something surprisingly new in them every time, without ever having to make anything up. Found Objects.
Aira is a strange and somewhat scattered novelist -- his method guarantees he relinquishes control over his forms, and sometimes, as in "How I Became a Nun," he helps his narrative become less linear -- but his pace, his wit, his descriptions, and even his philosophic asides are tremendous. He is genuinely surprising. It's not just the plot twists that took me by surprise, it was individual descriptions and sudden parenthetical comm A stupendous novel, a real achievement in a very brief compass.
It's not just the plot twists that took me by surprise, it was individual descriptions and sudden parenthetical comments. An aside on philosophic asides.
They aren't faux-philosophy -- dogmas and cliches masquerading as paradoxes and profundities, as in Cees Nooteboom or Javier Marias. And Aira's philosophic asides aren't arch, ironic, and elliptical, as in Umberto Eco. When Aira wants to say something about representation, reality, expression, or communication, he does so brilliantly and quickly As an art historian, I wouldn't recommend this for understanding nineteenth-century painting, although there is some good material on Humboldt's theories of nature. This book is not wholly invented it's taken from an historical narrative , but it's fiction, and very inventive, odd, and unpredictable.
If Aira can discipline himself the way Pynchon did to write "Gravity's Rainbow," he will be one of the principal novelists of the next few decades. Jul 22, jeremy rated it it was amazing Shelves: translation , fiction. May 20, Josh Friedlander rated it really liked it Shelves: art-aesthetics-culture. I have no idea how much of this is surreal, metaphysically inflected short novel is true, but it's gripping and superbly composed throughout. The tale of an artist's compulsive search for beautiful scenery, under, ahem, less than favourable conditions, it works around themes of artistic sincerity and the nature of reality.
Much more than anything I've read in a long time, Aira's writing gave me a sense of location: the locust-devoured pampas, steaming jungle, violet mountains populated with a hu I have no idea how much of this is surreal, metaphysically inflected short novel is true, but it's gripping and superbly composed throughout. Much more than anything I've read in a long time, Aira's writing gave me a sense of location: the locust-devoured pampas, steaming jungle, violet mountains populated with a huge variety of life. The author's love of biology is evident, both in his descriptions and in his meticulous, lapidary taxonomy - along aesthetic, rather than strictly scientific, lines.
An enchanting combination of the wordly and the otherworldly.
Jul 18, Roger Brunyate rated it really liked it Shelves: latin-america , art , history , place-portraits , illustrated-review. I am left asking "What on earth was that all about? It is a historical novel based, so far as I can see, on documented fact. In , the German painter Johann Moritz Rugendas, already famous from his previous paintings of Brazil, crossed the Andes from Chile, heading eastwards towards Buenos Aires.
That great city, however, was not his principal goal; he was most interested in experiencing the dead center of the vast Argentinian pampas, with unbroken plains reaching to a flat horizon on all sides. Accompanied by younger German artist Robert Krause, Rugendas sets off in late December, taking time to draw and paint the striking mountain scenery around Aconcagua, and spending the early weeks of in Mendoza, on the Argentinian side of the Cordillera.
In due course, the two artists start their journey East, but shortly after entering the true pampas, they are caught in a cataclysmic electrical storm which changes Rugendas' life for ever—and more particularly, the nature of his vision. Retracing their steps, they end up near Mendoza once more, where Rugendas witnesses other cataclysmic events, but this time of human origin. I am not quite certain whether Rugendas' quest is motivated by aesthetic principles or by personal ones. Aira makes much of his indebtedness to the great geographer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt whose own explorations in South America are treated in Daniel Kehlmann's wonderful novel Measuring the World.
Humboldt was a proponent of what he called "landscape physiognomy," in which the artist would concentrate on a limited number of features, beginning with the natural vegetation, whose growth and abundance would demonstrate the qualities that gave each place its particular identity. He urged Rugendas to concentrate on the tropics, whose vegetation was immensely more vigorous and varied.
Was it in reaction against Humboldt, therefore, that Rugendas sought out the rugged mountains and barren plains? Or was it simply a personal quest for extremes of experience of all kinds? On his first visit to Mendoza, Rugendas was disappointed not to witness an earthquake or an Indian raid. Later on, he would experience the savagery of both man and nature, almost losing his life in the process. It was no longer a matter of composing arrangements that might convey the intellectual idea of a landscape, but of grasping its extremes: both its immensity and its detail.
As a former art history professor, I see some analogy with two phases of Romanticism, the picturesque giving way to the dramatic, the ideal to the specific. But it is also the story of a man so altered by a close encounter with the Infinite that, having survived, he is prepared to risk his life to collect any further experiences available to him. Mar 02, Michael Flick rated it it was ok. He is consistent: except for the absence of humor, it boils down to the same book not that repetition is a fault--it's even a theme here. It appears to have been written in one day November 24, , takes about 2 hours to read leisurely and with contemplation, and is the result of the author letting his thoughts amble along in writing that one day until evening, when he declared it a book and was don This is the second Aira book I've read today the first was his "The Literary Conference".
It appears to have been written in one day November 24, , takes about 2 hours to read leisurely and with contemplation, and is the result of the author letting his thoughts amble along in writing that one day until evening, when he declared it a book and was done. Again, it fits with the automatic drawing etc. It's another exercise in surrealistic rococo. Again, not bad, but it's still just rococo. Dec 14, M. Sarki rated it liked it Recommended to M.
Three stars means "I liked it" so I guess that is good enough for me. Though my measly rating looks bad among all these five stars I see around me. The book was very easy to read and I liked some of the words the translator chose to use. More on this later. But I wasn't all that moved by the monstrous other-worldly trip-off in the spirit-quest for art, or for its sake.
I will expound later when I have had more time to run this reading through my mind's-eye filter. Or if the text somehow finds it Three stars means "I liked it" so I guess that is good enough for me. Or if the text somehow finds itself getting deliberately burrowed deeper below my skin. Apr 19, AC rated it it was amazing Shelves: novels-spanish , art.
What a strange, bizarre little book, like a perfect, gem-like hellenistic miniature, an engraver's sketch-pad frozen or captured alphabetically Jan 22, Adina rated it liked it Shelves: short , argentina.
To celebrate my return to Goodreads after one week of business travel I will write my first review with pictures. I have no idea how to do it but I am willing to learn. I am interested in Latin American fiction and was searching for a new Argentinian writer after reading Borges and Sabato. I found the book for sale in small library and decided to give the author a try. One of his main themes, a To celebrate my return to Goodreads after one week of business travel I will write my first review with pictures.
One of his main themes, also present in the book I read, is Argentina in the 19th century. The title of the book i. An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter summarizes the theme of the book in a very simplified manner. The painter in question is Johann Moritz Rugendas, a famous Austrian landscape painter in the 19th century. You can see a picture of the artist below if everything goes well technically : The books starts as a biography of the painter and we are given a short introduction to the character.
He traveled to Latin America three times and under to the influence of a famous naturalist, Alexander Humbold, decides to dedicate his life to recording in paintings the landscapes and life of Latin America. During his third trip he decides to finally visit the pampas of Argentina, his obsession, as he thought that he could find the ultimate source of inspiration in the endless Argentinian planes.
He decides to enter Argentina from Chile by crossing the Andes. The crossing and the description of the landscape was one of my favorite parts of the book as I am fascinated with the Andes scenery and did a bit of hiking there. I found a picture from the plane from one of my trips to Chile. Now, there is a painting of the Andes by Rugendas When our hero arrives in Mendoza and then continues to the pampas the story becomes surreal. He has a traumatic accident which leaves him disfigured and in incredible pain. The forced solitude caused by his horrific face and his dependence on morphine to ease the pain alters his vision of the world and his art gains new enlightened levels.
The story reads as a biography and it was hard to separate fact from fiction. Also, for a novella, it packs a lot of deep ideas which do not feel cramped inside just to be there as I've read in quite a few books. Although the prose could be dry in some places I believe it is a book worth reading. View 2 comments. Dec 21, Ellie rated it really liked it Shelves: groupchal , indchalnge. I still don't know what I think of it. I gave it 3 but I have the feeling the weaknesses in me. It haunts me in the way that usually only a major text does.
I have to think some more about this. Only 88 pages but really vivid images. Based on historical fact but opening it out to the imagination. I feel that somehow I'm missing the point of it, but that there is one. Very frustrating. Based on the power of haunting me, I'm moving this up to 4 stars.
I don't always have to understand a book to feel its power. His genre is the landscape—but he paints less for the purpose of aesthetic ornamentation than for scientific enlightenment. In the era before photography and other recording devices, a painter brought to the metropolis information about nature. You might think, then, that Rugendas would be a pure empiricist, painting just what he sees as he sees it, a kind of human recording device.
This is a version of Romantic holism that sees all of nature as an integrated and self-generating organism, which the work of art should represent as such. The artist known as "Hand G", probably one of the Van Eyck brothers, was especially successful in reproducing effects of light and in a natural-seeming progression from the foreground to the distant view. Landscape backgrounds for various types of painting became increasingly prominent and skillful during the 15th century.
The Italian development of a thorough system of graphical perspective was now known all over Europe, which allowed large and complex views to be painted very effectively. Landscapes were idealized, mostly reflecting a pastoral ideal drawn from classical poetry which was first fully expressed by Giorgione and the young Titian , and remained associated above all with hilly wooded Italian landscape, which was depicted by artists from Northern Europe who had never visited Italy, just as plain-dwelling literati in China and Japan painted vertiginous mountains.
Though often young artists were encouraged to visit Italy to experience Italian light , many Northern European artists could make their living selling Italianate landscapes without ever bothering to make the trip. Indeed, certain styles were so popular that they became formulas that could be copied again and again. The publication in Antwerp in and of two series of a total of 48 prints the Small Landscapes after drawings by an anonymous artist referred to as the Master of the Small Landscapes signaled a shift away from the imaginary, distant landscapes with religious content of the world landscape towards close-up renderings at eye-level of identifiable country estates and villages populated with figures engaged in daily activities.
By abandoning the panoramic viewpoint of the world landscape and focusing on the humble, rural and even topographical, the Small Landscapes set the stage for Netherlandish landscape painting in the 17th century. After the publication of the Small Landscapes, landscape artists in the Low Countries either continued with the world landscape or followed the new mode presented by the Small Landscapes. The popularity of exotic landscape scenes can be seen in the success of the painter Frans Post , who spent the rest of his life painting Brazilian landscapes after a trip there in — Other painters who never crossed the Alps could make money selling Rhineland landscapes, and still others for constructing fantasy scenes for a particular commission such as Cornelis de Man 's view of Smeerenburg in Compositional formulae using elements like the repoussoir were evolved which remain influential in modern photography and painting, notably by Poussin  and Claude Lorrain , both French artists living in 17th century Rome and painting largely classical subject-matter, or Biblical scenes set in the same landscapes.
Unlike their Dutch contemporaries, Italian and French landscape artists still most often wanted to keep their classification within the hierarchy of genres as history painting by including small figures to represent a scene from classical mythology or the Bible. Salvator Rosa gave picturesque excitement to his landscapes by showing wilder Southern Italian country, often populated by banditi. Dutch Golden Age painting of the 17th century saw the dramatic growth of landscape painting, in which many artists specialized, and the development of extremely subtle realist techniques for depicting light and weather.
There are different styles and periods, and sub-genres of marine and animal painting, as well as a distinct style of Italianate landscape. Most Dutch landscapes were relatively small, but landscapes in Flemish Baroque painting , still usually peopled, were often very large, above all in the series of works that Peter Paul Rubens painted for his own houses. Landscape prints were also popular, with those of Rembrandt and the experimental works of Hercules Seghers usually considered the finest. The Dutch tended to make smaller paintings for smaller houses.
Some Dutch landscape specialties named in period inventories include the Batalje , or battle-scene;  the Maneschijntje ,  or moonlight scene; the Bosjes ,  or woodland scene; the Boederijtje , or farm scene,  and the Dorpje or village scene. Jacob van Ruisdael is considered the most versatile of all Dutch Golden Age landscape painters.
In England, landscapes had initially been mostly backgrounds to portraits, typically suggesting the parks or estates of a landowner, though mostly painted in London by an artist who had never visited his sitter's rolling acres. The English tradition was founded by Anthony van Dyck and other mostly Flemish artists working in England, but in the 18th century the works of Claude Lorrain were keenly collected and influenced not only paintings of landscapes, but the English landscape gardens of Capability Brown and others.
In the 18th century, watercolour painting, mostly of landscapes, became an English specialty, with both a buoyant market for professional works, and a large number of amateur painters, many following the popular systems found in the books of Alexander Cozens and others.
By the beginning of the 19th century the English artists with the highest modern reputations were mostly dedicated landscape painters, showing the wide range of Romantic interpretations of the English landscape found in the works of John Constable , J. Turner and Samuel Palmer. However all these had difficulty establishing themselves in the contemporary art market, which still preferred history paintings and portraits.
In Europe, as John Ruskin said,  and Sir Kenneth Clark confirmed, landscape painting was the "chief artistic creation of the nineteenth century", and "the dominant art", with the result that in the following period people were "apt to assume that the appreciation of natural beauty and the painting of landscape is a normal and enduring part of our spiritual activity"  In Clark's analysis, underlying European ways to convert the complexity of landscape to an idea were four fundamental approaches: the acceptance of descriptive symbols, a curiosity about the facts of nature, the creation of fantasy to allay deep-rooted fears of nature, and the belief in a Golden Age of harmony and order, which might be retrieved.
The 18th century was also a great age for the topographical print, depicting more or less accurately a real view in a way that landscape painting rarely did. Initially these were mostly centred on a building, but over the course of the century, with the growth of the Romantic movement pure landscapes became more common.
The topographical print, often intended to be framed and hung on a wall, remained a very popular medium into the 20th century, but was often classed as a lower form of art than an imagined landscape. Landscapes in watercolour on paper became a distinct specialism, above all in England, where a particular tradition of talented artists who only, or almost entirely, painted landscape watercolours developed, as it did not in other countries.
These were very often real views, though sometimes the compositions were adjusted for artistic effect. The paintings sold relatively cheaply, but were far quicker to produce. These professionals could augment their income by training the "armies of amateurs" who also painted. The Romantic movement intensified the existing interest in landscape art, and remote and wild landscapes, which had been one recurring element in earlier landscape art, now became more prominent.
The German Caspar David Friedrich had a distinctive style, influenced by his Danish training , where a distinct national style, drawing on the Dutch 17th-century example, had developed. To this he added a quasi-mystical Romanticism. French painters were slower to develop landscape painting, but from about the s Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and other painters in the Barbizon School established a French landscape tradition that would become the most influential in Europe for a century, with the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists for the first time making landscape painting the main source of general stylistic innovation across all types of painting.
The nationalism of the new United Provinces had been a factor in the popularity of Dutch 17th-century landscape painting and in the 19th century, as other nations attempted to develop distinctive national schools of painting, the attempt to express the special nature of the landscape of the homeland became a general tendency. In Russia, as in America, the gigantic size of paintings was itself a nationalist statement.
In Spain , the main promoter of the genre was the Belgium-born painter Carlos de Haes , one of the most active landscape professors at the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid since After studying with the great Flemish landscape masters, he developed his technique to paint outdoors . Back in Spain, Haes took his students with him to paint in the countryside; under his teaching the "painters proliferated and took advantage of the new railway system to explore the furthest corners of the nation's topography. In the United States , the Hudson River School , prominent in the middle to late 19th century, is probably the best-known native development in landscape art.
These painters created works of mammoth scale that attempted to capture the epic scope of the landscapes that inspired them. The work of Thomas Cole , the school's generally acknowledged founder, has much in common with the philosophical ideals of European landscape paintings — a kind of secular faith in the spiritual benefits to be gained from the contemplation of natural beauty. Some of the later Hudson River School artists, such as Albert Bierstadt , created less comforting works that placed a greater emphasis with a great deal of Romantic exaggeration on the raw, even terrifying power of nature.
The best examples of Canadian landscape art can be found in the works of the Group of Seven , prominent in the s. Although certainly less dominant in the period after World War I, many significant artists still painted landscapes in the wide variety of styles exemplified by Edvard Munch , Georgia O'Keeffe , Charles E. John Constable , , The Hay Wain. Early Romanticism. Ivan Aivazovsky , , The Caucasus. Late Romanticism. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot , c. Barbizon school. Claude Monet , Branch of the Seine near Giverny, The Impressionists often, though by no means always, painted en plein air.
Isaac Levitan , Above Eternal Peace, Landscape painting has been called "China's greatest contribution to the art of the world",  and owes its special character to the Taoist Daoist tradition in Chinese culture. There are increasingly sophisticated landscape backgrounds to figure subjects showing hunting, farming or animals from the Han dynasty onwards, with surviving examples mostly in stone or clay reliefs from tombs, which are presumed to follow the prevailing styles in painting, no doubt without capturing the full effect of the original paintings.
One example is a famous 8th-century painting from the Imperial collection, titled The Emperor Ming Huang traveling in Shu. This shows the entourage riding through vertiginous mountains of the type typical of later paintings, but is in full colour "producing an overall pattern that is almost Persian", in what was evidently a popular and fashionable court style. The decisive shift to a monochrome landscape style, almost devoid of figures, is attributed to Wang Wei , also famous as a poet; mostly only copies of his works survive.
Chinese convention valued the paintings of the amateur scholar-gentleman , often a poet as well, over those produced by professionals, though the situation was more complex than that. Famous works have accumulated numbers of red "appreciation seals" , and often poems added by later owners - the Qianlong Emperor — was a prolific adder of his own poems, following earlier Emperors.
The shan shui tradition was never intended to represent actual locations, even when named after them, as in the convention of the Eight Views. These were painted on scrolls of enormous length in bright colour example below. Chinese sculpture also achieves the difficult feat of creating effective landscapes in three dimensions.
There is a long tradition of the appreciation of " viewing stones" - naturally formed boulders, typically limestone from the banks of mountain rivers that has been eroded into fantastic shapes, were transported to the courtyards and gardens of the literati. Probably associated with these is the tradition of carving much smaller boulders of jade or some other semi-precious stone into the shape of a mountain, including tiny figures of monks or sages.
Chinese gardens also developed a highly sophisticated aesthetic much earlier than those in the West; the karensansui or Japanese dry garden of Zen Buddhism takes the garden even closer to being a work of sculpture, representing a highly abstracted landscape. Li Kan , Bamboos and Rock c.
Tao Chi , late 17th century China. Japanese art initially adapted Chinese styles to reflect their interest in narrative themes in art, with scenes set in landscapes mixing with those showing palace or city scenes using the same high view point, cutting away roofs as necessary. These appeared in the very long yamato-e scrolls of scenes illustrating the Tale of Genji and other subjects, mostly from the 12th and 13th centuries.
The concept of the gentleman-amateur painter had little resonance in feudal Japan, where artists were generally professionals with a strong bond to their master and his school, rather than the classic artists from the distant past, from which Chinese painters tended to draw their inspiration. The scene illustrated at right is from a scroll that in full measures These were closer to Chinese shan shui, but still fully coloured. Many more pure landscape subjects survive from the 15th century onwards; several key artists are Zen Buddhist clergy, and worked in a monochrome style with greater emphasis on brush strokes in the Chinese manner.
Some schools adopted a less refined style, with smaller views giving greater emphasis to the foreground. A type of image that had an enduring appeal for Japanese artists, and came to be called the "Japanese style", is in fact first found in China. This combines one or more large birds, animals or trees in the foreground, typically to one side in a horizontal composition, with a wider landscape beyond, often only covering portions of the background.