Although considered a minor genre for a long time, the art of landscape has risen above its forebears – religious and historic painting – to become a genre of its own. Giorgione in Italy, the Brueghels of the Flemish School, Claude Lorrain and Poussain of the French School, the Dutch landscape painters and Turner and Constable of England are just a few of the great landscapists who have left their indelible mark on the history of landscape and the art of painting as a whole.
After serving for a long time as a backdrop for paintings and as a skill-practising exercise for artists, nature came to be observed for its own sake and was incorporated into works of art as an illustration of an enlightened and scientific study of the world. Through continual change, it has inspired the greatest painters and has allowed some others, like Turner, to transcend the relentless search for mere realism in pictorial representation. Through this study, Émile Michel offers an exceptional panorama, from the 15th century to the present, of art and the way artists portray the world in all its splendour.