Book Series Théorie de l'art (1400-1800) / Art Theory (1400-1800), vol. 10

Narrating the Landscape on the Grand Tour

British Creativity in Landscape Portrayal (1760-1800)

Marie Claude Beaulieu Orna

  • Pages: approx. 260 p.
  • Size:210 x 297 mm
  • Illustrations:0 b/w, 122 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2024


Through an overall approach, the aesthetical, material and technical inventiveness among British landscape painters on the Grand Tour during its heyday is brought to light following its logical and sequential implementation


Ph.D. in History of Art, Marie Claude Beaulieu Orna works as an independent historian of art in Montreal (Canada). She lectured on European Modern Art at Université de Poitiers and Université Clermont Auvergne (France). Her fields of research concern eighteenth-century British landscape painting and aesthetics; related to these subject areas, she investigates as well art theories and teaching methods, materiality and technique issues, circulation of know-how, artists’ travels. She has been publishing in peered-reviewed journals like Dix-Huitième Siècle, Nouvelles de l’Estampe and The British Art Journal.


As chosen by British landscapists traveling on the Grand Tour in the last third of the eighteenth century, our study explores the path to remedy the ambiguity of their pictorial genre. Indeed, being attached to certain continental artistic references while simultaneously willing to affirm a British character, those artists find their way experimenting processes and dealing with materiality issues in a particularly innovative manner. Their approach is to be closely related to the peculiarities of landscape art in Great Britain at that period, including its theoretical interpretation, teaching, and cultural perception. Through various examples, our research sheds light on this training and analyses painters’ traveling practice, largely devoted to the exercise of plein air sketching and employed to satisfy aesthetic goals. The book also investigates the diffusion of this know-how through engraving and publishing. It raises the parallel issue of artistic interaction in the cosmopolitan environment of the Grand Tour, suggesting a certain transfer of skills from the British to the continental artistic communities. The inventiveness among British landscapists on the Grand Tour during its heyday is thus brought to light following its logical and sequential implementation, from training to sharing of travel art works.




Chapter One - A Prospect of Landscape Portrayal

A Generation of Practitioners
A Generation of Aesthetes
A Distinctive Theoretical Interpretation

Chapter Two - The Mastery of Landscape Portrayal

Landscape Painting and Connoisseurship
Drawing Landscape as Artistic Training
At the School of Innovative Teaching

Chapter Three - The Learned Eye’ on Nature

The Development of a Visual Culture
New Modes of Looking at Nature
Visual Perception and Artistic Practice

Chapter Four - Exploring Sketching from Nature

A New Approach to Landscape
Practice for Learning from Nature

Chapter Five - ‘Conveying an Impression of Nature’: Exploring Materiality

Paper: ‘The Secret Laboratory’
Pigments: A Will to Master Colour

Chapter Six – Nature ‘Essence’ Exploring Colour Techniques

The Subtle Art of Lighting
The Subtle Art of Atmosphere
Technical Emulation and its Challenges

Chapter Seven - Reinventing Modes of Disseminating Skills

From Sketch to Facsimile: Displaying Virtuosity in ‘Narrating’ the Landscape
From Empirical Analysis to Aesthetic Expansion: Grand Tour Landscapes in Aquatint
From the Sketch to the Illustration: ‘Narrating’ Grand Tour Landscapes

Chapter Eight - Sharing Travel Experiences

Travel Artworks as Landscape Souvenirs Disseminating Artistic Skills
Landscapes as Memorabilia of an Aesthetical and Sensible Experience

Chapter Nine - Sharing Practices: Artistic Emulation on the Grand Tour

The Artistic Gesture as a Universal Language
The Grand Tour as an Experimental Laboratory
Cultural Awareness as a Facilitator of Dissemination


Addendum: Characteristics and Details of Sketchbooks and Albums


Sources and Select Bibliography

List of Illustrations