Ex.3: Establishing Conventions

I was tasked with finding 12 paintings from the 18th and 19th century that depict landscapes, and then to find the ‘commonalities’ between them.


(c) Nottingham City Museums and Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation 1

On Hounslow Heath ?exhibited 1770 by Richard Wilson 1713-1782

On Hounslow Heath ?exhibited 1770 Richard Wilson 1713-1782 Presented by R.E.A. Wilson and M. Oliver 1929 2

Landscape: Sheep in a Woodland Glade null by Thomas Gainsborough 1727-1788

Landscape: Sheep in a Woodland Glade null Thomas Gainsborough 1727-1788 Bequeathed by R.W. Lloyd 1958 3


SMAG; (c) Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation 4

Pembroke-Caselt,-South-Wales--Thunder-Storm-Approaching 5

Derwentwater circa 1777-8 by Thomas Hearne 1744-1817

Derwentwater circa 1777-8 Thomas Hearne 1744-1817 Presented by the Art Fund (Herbert Powell Bequest) 1967 6

A Cornfield ?1817 by John Constable 1776-1837

A Cornfield ?1817 John Constable 1776-1837 Accepted by HMGovernment in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to Tate 2004 7

A Sunset, with a View of Nine Elms c.1750-60 by Samuel Scott c.1702-1772

A Sunset, with a View of Nine Elms c.1750-60 Samuel Scott c.1702-1772 Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1970 8

2006AE7768_jpg_ds 9

tumblr_me6g8skna81rrajnno1_1280.jpg 10

2007BN6066_jpg_ds 11

image 12

It is clear from the above examples that landscape paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries share a number of rigid conventions.

The majority of scenes were pastoral initially and showed daily life as simple and rural. In particular, 9 shows what appears to be a shepherd’s hut with a flock of sheep in the foreground. The scenes primarily used greens and blues to reflect the simple lifestyles but over time became more savage and wild.

Idealised landscapes were more popular than topographical (actual, realistic) ones. Artists used their freedom of interpretation to create the desired mood. This begs the question of what each painting is trying to represent.

The paintings curated above are all representations of England, commissioned both publicly and privately. Artists were commissioned by landowners much of the time. The Upper Class became more well-travelled and required art work that reflected this.

In terms of framing and composition, the convention of ‘side-framing’ was popular; trees were often used to draw attention to the central object of interest.  Features in the distance could be made more prominent and hills were occasionally enlarged. Sometimes figures were added for variety to fill a space or to direct the eye in a particular way.

The sky was a dominant feature in the majority of landscapes. In photography, the Rule of Thirds is used to cut landscapes into 3 sections; with one or two thirds given to either the sky or land. This helps balance the image; a quality that is missing in some of the above examples.




1 Paul Sandby, (1806), Bayswater Road, London, near the Old Temple Gate [ONLINE]. Available at:http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/images/paintings/ncmg/624×544/not_ncmg_1904_476_624x544.jpg[Accessed 01 February 16].

2 Richard Wilson, (1770), On Hounslow Heath [ONLINE]. Available at:http://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/N/N04/N04458_9.jpg [Accessed 01 February 16].

3 Thomas Gainsborough, (Unknown), Sheep in a Woodland Glade [ONLINE]. Available at:http://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/N/N06/N06281_10.jpg/N04458_9.jpg [Accessed 01 February 16].

4 Edward Dayes, (Unknown), A View of English Bridge, Shrewsbury, Shropshire [ONLINE]. Available at:http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/images/paintings/smag/large/hsw_smag_fa_1990_53_large.jpg[Accessed 01 February 16].

5 Joseph Mallord William Turner, (1801), Pembroke Caselt, South Wales: Thunder Storm Approaching[ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.william-turner.org/Pembroke-Caselt,-South-Wales:-Thunder-Storm-Approaching-large.html [Accessed 01 February 16].

6 Thomas Hearne, (1777-8), Derwentwater [ONLINE]. Available at:http://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/T/T00/T00999_10.jpg [Accessed 01 February 16].

7 John Constable, (1817), A Cornfield [ONLINE]. Available at:http://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/T/T11/T11862_9.jpg [Accessed 01 February 16].

8 Samuel Scott, (1750-60), A Sunset, with a View of Nine Elms [ONLINE]. Available at:http://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/T/T01/T01235_10.jpg [Accessed 01 February 16].

9 John Robert Cozens, (1775-82), Shepherd’s Hut between Naples and Portici [ONLINE]. Available at:http://media.vam.ac.uk/media/thira/collection_images/2006AE/2006AE7768_jpg_ds.jpg [Accessed 01 February 16].

10 Andrea Locatelli, (Unknown), Landscape with Hunters [ONLINE]. Available at:http://40.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_me6g8skna81rrajnno1_1280.jpg [Accessed 01 February 16].

11 Alessandro Castelli, (Unknown), Rocky Italian Landscape [ONLINE]. Available at:http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O121179/rocky-italian-landscape-oil-painting-castelli-alessandro/#[Accessed 01 February 16].

12 Carl Gustav Carus, (1834), Eichen am Meer [ONLINE]. Available at: http://skd-online-collection.skd.museum/imagescreate/image.php?id=176782&type=gross [Accessed 01 February 16].

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