Landscapes with human figures

XVII and XVIII centuries

Landscapes, together with other types of paintings such as still lifes, were beginning to be recognised as genres in their own right in the early years of the XVII century, though still considered ‘minor genres’ throughout the XVIII century. In some works painted by Annibale Carracci and Domenichino at the beginning of the century, landscapes gradually came into their own. They were no longer subordinate to narrative, religious or mythological compositions. In these innovatively conceived paintings human figures and Biblical and mythological scenes became mere pretexts, their dimensions reduced within sweeping naturalistic contexts, often with the sole aim of underpinning a particular poetic effect.

The Carraccis, Domenichino and Francesco Albani, following the programmatic dictates of the Bolognese school, and the French painter Nicolas Poussin gave form to that particular type of landscape painting in which nature is interpreted as a classical ideal of composure and perfection. These were the precepts according to which Claude Lorrain and Gaspard Dughet formulated their concept of ‘ideal’ and ‘heroic’ landscape. While the Bolognese classical school was taking root, artists such as the Flemish painter Paul Brill and the German Adam Elsheimer, working in Italy, introduced their ‘realistic’ northern landscapes to this country, where they met with considerable success among their Italian patrons.

The Baptism of Christ and Diana and Endymion, in which the landscapes are fairly standardised, are the fruit of a compromise between the idealised classical and the naturalistic northern traditions.

The two oval canvases, in which the landscapes include hunting and fishing scenes, exemplify the many variants and sub-genres into which landscape painting branched during the XVII century. The themes of these paintings are everyday occupations and come close to genre painting, while preserving the absolute pre-eminence of landscape.

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Confindustria
Pesaro Urbino
Palazzo Ciacchi
Via Cattaneo, 34
61121 Pesaro
C.F. 80005890415