Cover image for Valenciennes, Daubigny, and the Origins of French Landscape Painting Edited by Michael Marlais, John Varriano, and Edited byWendy Watson

Valenciennes, Daubigny, and the Origins of French Landscape Painting

Edited by Michael Marlais, Edited by John Varriano, and Edited by Wendy Watson

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64 pages
11" × 8.5"
30 color/38 b&w illustrations
2004
Distributed by the Penn State Press for Mount Holyoke College Art Museum

Valenciennes, Daubigny, and the Origins of French Landscape Painting

Edited by Michael Marlais, Edited by John Varriano, and Edited by Wendy Watson

French painters have historically taken to landscape with a zeal unmatched by artists of any other nationality. This volume traces the history of that engagement with nature from the late Renaissance, when landscape painting first emerged from the background of narrative representation, up to the eve of Impressionism in the nineteenth century. French artists faced many choices as they made their way through the rural landscape. John Varriano's essay emphasizes the role the classicizing Italianate idiom of Poussin and Claude played in the French imagination for much of that time. Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, who was for landscape painting what Jacques-Louis David was for history painting, constitutes a major turning point in that tradition. Wendy Watson's essay explores the intellectual foundations of his work and his renewal of the classical legacy in landscape painting.

 

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“Though one may stay in Rome for many years, finally one has to return home.” —Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes

French painters have historically taken to landscape with a zeal unmatched by artists of any other nationality. This volume traces the history of that engagement with nature from the late Renaissance, when landscape painting first emerged from the background of narrative representation, up to the eve of Impressionism in the nineteenth century. French artists faced many choices as they made their way through the rural landscape. John Varriano's essay emphasizes the role the classicizing Italianate idiom of Poussin and Claude played in the French imagination for much of that time. Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes, who was for landscape painting what Jacques-Louis David was for history painting, constitutes a major turning point in that tradition. Wendy Watson's essay explores the intellectual foundations of his work and his renewal of the classical legacy in landscape painting.

With time, French landscape painters came to question the authority of the inherited tradition. Michael Marlais's essay not only demonstrates that Charles-Franois Daubigny was central to that conceptual change but also explains the reasons artists began rethinking, while not totally abandoning, classical formulas.

Valenciennes, Daubigny, and the Origins of French Landscape Painting contains 30 color illustrations as well as a checklist of the 2004 exhibition at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum that occasioned its publication.

Michael Marlais is the James M. Gillespie Professor of Art History at Colby College. He is the author of Conservative Echoes in Fin-de-Siècle Parisian Art Criticism (Penn State, 1992).

John Varriano is the Idella Plimpton Kendall Professor of Art History at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of Italian Baroque and Rococo Architecture (1986), Rome, A Literary Companion (1991), and Caravaggio and the Art of Realism (forthcoming, Penn State).

Wendy M. Watson is curator of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. She is the author of Italian Renaissance Maiolica from the William A. Clark Collection (1986), Italian Renaissance Ceramics from the Howard I. and Janet H. Stein Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2001), and the co-author of Summit: Vittorio Sella, Mountaineer and Photographer, The Years 1879-1909 (1999).

Contents

Foreword

Marianne Doezema

1. Landscape Painting Before Valenciennes

John Varriano

2. Tradition and Innovation: Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes and the Neoclassical Landscape

Wendy M. Watson

3. Charles-Francois Daubigny and the Traditions of French Landscape Painting

Michael Marlais

Exhibition Checklist

Photograph Credits

Also of Interest

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