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Chapter 5

Shifting Focus: Art and the Natural World

Landscape painting, more than any other category, experienced a clear and rapid evolution from compositions and subjects dictated by academic tradition to ones determined either by individual preference or market demands. The classical landscape formula embodied a hierarchical world view consistent with the absolutist era of monarchs. The Sublime and Picturesque offered alternatives considered more responsive to contemporary attitudes, and provided a transition to both Romanticism (which projected emotional/spiritual content into nature) and Naturalism (which focused on the truthful representation of typical moments in nature).


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