on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

History of Art and Landscape – Part One

The Foundations

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

Flickr, Facebook, Twitter

David Ward

T-shirt winning landscape photographer, one time carpenter, full-time workshop leader and occasional author who does all his own decorating.


Joe Cornish

Joe Cornish

Professional landscape photographer.


One of the key aspects of landscape photography has got to be composition. Given our subject matter rarely has a strong internal narrative and the subject rarely has intrinsic emotional value, our arrangement of content within the frame and its emphasis, lighting, etc. are the main thing we have to work with. However, composition is rarely written about well beyond addressing so-called "rules".

I've chatted with David Ward and Joe Cornish about my ideas for a series on composition for quite a few years now but there always seems to be some internal barriers, essentially, a resistance to committing thoughts to paper and making them public where they'll have to stand on their own merits. However, after some recent chats about the subject, we've decided to try to get a proper series off the ground and to gets things started, we thought we'd have a chat about the history of art and landscape in order to build some foundations.

Hence, the following podcast is a relatively short chat about how art and composition built to the age where landscape, and particularly rural and wild landscape, started to become a recognised genre in its own right.

I've tried to find some references for the artworks mentioned including a few important extra ones I found when doing a little research. The next instalment, contrary to what I say in the podcast, will look at the development of landscape from the Dutch and Flemish landscape tradition to Lorraine, Poussin and the Grand Tour, looking at some of the visual themes and aspects of landscape art (such as Repoussir) as we move toward the romantic tradition.

Don't worry that we'll be getting too art history along the way, the primary goal here is to look at landscape composition and keep our eye on how we can use the ideas in our own work. (p.s. I've neglected to mention some excellent non-Western culture art, such as early Chinese paintings! This is on purpose and they will be addressed later in the series).

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