Philip James De Loutherbourg, ‘Lake Scene, Evening’ 1792
Philip James De Loutherbourg
Lake Scene, Evening 1792
Thomas Gainsborough, ‘Boy Driving Cows near a Pool’ c.1786
Thomas Gainsborough
Boy Driving Cows near a Pool c.1786
Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘Caernarvon Castle’ c.1798
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Caernarvon Castle c.1798

Interest in landscape painting and in looking at the landscape itself grew rapidly through the second half of the eighteenth century. Definitions of types of landscape or view, seen from an aesthetic or artistic point of view, followed. At one extreme was the sublime (awesome sights such as great mountains) at the other the beautiful, the most peaceful, even pretty sights. In between came the picturesque, views seen as being artistic but containing elements of wildness or irregularity.

The theory of the picturesque was developed by writers William Gilpin (Observations on the River Wye 1770) and Uvedale Price, who in 1794 published An Essay on the Picturesque as Compared with the Sublime and Beautiful.

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