Research Point: Different Artists’ Depictions of Landscape

Church Heart of the Andes

For the first research point in this part of the course, ‘Drawing Outdoors’ We were asked to look at different artists depictions of landscapes, for example Albrecht Dürer, Claude Lorrain and L.S. Lowry.

Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer 1471-1528 gave us some of the earliest and finest works of the ‘Northern Renaissance’ with some wonderful landscape paintings, however, with the next exercise ‘a sketchbook walk’ coming up, I decided to look for some of Dürer’s more sketchy works.

The first painting I came across was a painting called Quarry, I searched on Google to try to find more information on this painting but to no avail, all I found was other paintings in colour of the same name. Looking at the painting at a first glance I thought it was a drawing in pencil but then realized it was a watercolour but it does look like he may have used other media such as pencil to finish the piece. The mark making techniques he has used in the painting are very simple and yet he has managed to create a good sense of three dimension with thin strong lines for the turfs of grass and weeds in the foreground to the wide, smudged brush strokes for the trees in the background and everything else in between. I particularly like the mark making techniques he has used for the leafs of the trees as he has depicted what we see has very complex objects with a series of simple shapes.

Quarry - Albrecht Durer
Quarry – Albrecht Durer

Another painting that I really liked was ‘Forest Glade with a Walled Fountain by which Two Men are Sitting’. I haven’t found the details of this drawing but it looks more like a drawing in pen and ink than a drawing. At first I couldn’t determine whether the artist had no time to finish the painting or if he had deliberately left it unfinished but then I realized that he was trying to show the light shining in through the trees on the left hand side of the picture and the dark forest in the background.

Forest Glade with a Walled Fountain by Which Two Men are Sitting 1505
Forest Glade with a Walled Fountain by Which Two Men are Sitting 1505 Albrecht Durer

Again, like the first painting he has used many different mark making techniques using hatching and cross hatching for the fountain, as well as the two men and various hatching techniques to show the density of the forest behind. I can also see that he has used the same simple marks for the leaves on the trees as the first painting which works really well.

L.S. Lowry (1 November 1887 – 23 February 1976)

Laurence Stephen Lowry, was born in Stretford, Lancashire in 1887 and as a northerner as always been a favourite  of mine.

Lowry is famous for his paintings depicting life in various industrial districts in the Northwest of England in a very distinctive style of painting.

Because of his use of stylised figures and the lack of weather effects in many of his landscapes he is sometimes characterised as a naïve “Sunday painter”, although this is not the position of the galleries that have organised retrospectives of his works. – Wikipedia.

L.S. Lowry Industrial Landscape 1955
L.S. Lowry Industrial Landscape 1955

The oil painting, Industrial Landscape 1955, below is a great example of Lowry’s industrial landscape paintings. What I like about Lowry’s paintings especially this one is that the building, bridges, houses etc. are made up of very simple shapes, mostly rectangles and squares and yet he still manages to create feeling in his paintings with the help of factory smoke and dismal skies plus the background that fades to almost nothing helps not only to create a sense of distance but of smog and pollution being caused by the factory chimneys. Although the perspective is not perfect he creates a sense distance by painting the landscape lighter and lighter as he moves into the background eventually fading to a blue-grey; as well as painting objects like trees, bushes, chimneys and spires with simpler and smaller shapes so that they appear far-off.

L.S. Lowry An Industrial Landscape 1958
L.S. Lowry An Industrial Landscape 1958

I tried to find a larger image of the following painting but to no avail. Also titled An Industrial Landscape the painting was bought for 300 GBP in 1959 and sold for 600,000 GBP in 2007. Again you can see how he paints the buildings in lighter and lighter shades in the background to give the impression they are disappearing into an industrial smog.

Finding a Substitute for Claude Lorrain

I noticed that I would be researching Claude Lorrain again later on in this module and so I set out to find a substitute. I first searched for Claude Lorrain on Google which took me to the Baroque period from there I clicked on a link to Landscapes which took me to page of wonderful landscapes on Wikipedia with Landscape Paintings of artists from all different periods.

The first painting that jumped out at me was a painting by Caspar David Friedrich, titled Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1818, which is a classic image from German Romanticism. I recently watched a series of documentaries about German art on the BBC and this painting was used in the credits. My kind of painting really, simple and yet the landscape he has painted catches the imagination wondering what is below the peaks, and below the cloud line. Again as in paintings by the other artists in this research point the trees on the mountain ridges are made up of very simple squiggles and other shapes but its not something you notice straight away. I love the way he has used what I think are long twisted brush strokes with a darker colour over the lighter colour in the background to create the effect of mist rolling down the ills to the center of the picture.

Caspar David Friedrich: The wanderer above the Sea of Fog
Caspar David Friedrich: The wanderer above the Sea of Fog 1818

The next image that caught my attention was a painting by Frederic Edwin Church titled The Heart of the Andes, 1859. Unlike the previous painting this is by no means simple, I couldn’t even begin to think about where this guy started or what techniques he used, say, for the trees, but the mountains in the background are pure inspiration. They seem to be layers and layers of colour painted over the blue sky background making their way to ground level with the white snowcapped mountains in the background taking your mind on a journey around the mountains in front to get to them.

Church Heart of the Andes
Frederic Edwin Church Heart of the Andes