Picturesque Visions: Integrating the Aesthetic Category of the Pittoresco into the Social Sphere in 19th Century Europe and the USA

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Although the term Picturesque was introduced first as an aesthetic category in 18th century England, it soon extended the theoretical realm shared with the Burkean notions of the Beautiful and the Sublime and became highly influential both in European and American landscape design, painting and architecture, while in 19th century it also appeared as the main characteristic of the setting in Romantic literature. However, while talking about the significance of the Picturesque as a movement in various fields of art, it must not be forgotten that the growth of its importance went hand in hand with the turn from Classicism towards Romanticism, which created a renewed interest in Nature. Thus, the special concern of Picturesque with landscape immediately led to its usage in the painting of the Romantic era, where the aim was to create a seemingly natural setting which at the same time showed a highly composed and carefully ordered presentation of the unity between man and Nature. Besides painters, the perfection of the original beauty of natural sights was the aim of landscape artists as well, whose garden designs turned from the symmetrical and geometrical Renaissance gardens towards natural shapes and irregular lines designed in a Picturesque manner. However, landscape gardeners not only advocated the proper treatment of Nature, which was a central theme in 19th century Romanticism, but at the same time popularized the movement, which, once being introduced to architecture, entered everyday life and became a social concern as well. Thus, it may be of some importance to see how Picturesque, meaning originally 'painterly' or 'in the manner of painters', became part of the Western social sphere and formulated the thinking of people on both sides of the Atlantic both in 19th century and later on.


Keywords: Picturesque, Romanticism, Landscape Gardening, Architecture, Internationalism, Romantic Literature
Stream: Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Eszter Krakkó

Phd Student, Institute of English and American Studies, University of Debrecen
Debrecen, Hungary

I am a 2nd year PhD student at the University of Debrecen, where I am a member of the English-American Doctoral Programme. My dissertation topic evolves around the oeuvre of Charlotte Bronte and the various representations of art (painting, architecture and theatre), spatiality and the visual in her novels, but I am also interested in Irish Studies, feminism and the role of visual culture in society. Recently I have also dealt with the contemporary English writer Sarah Waters and Victorian society, and the position of Asian immigrants in the USA and in Hungary. This conference would be a nice opportunity to enlarge my knowledge on the various forms of art and the role of art as a social organizing force.

Ref: A09P0340