Aesthetic Landscape Concepts
Aesthetic Landscape Concepts
While the relationship between landscape and art may be traced back to the sixteenth century, this relationship became more explicit in the second half of the eighteenth century. At this time, writers began to draw upon ideas from art to classify landscapes and instruct others in the appreciation of landscape. One of the most famous of these attempts was Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful. The idea of beauty was relatively straightforward; however, Burke argued that not all visual experiences could be Merrell Sandal easily designated as beautiful or ugly. Because other experiences could also affect the viewer, new categories were developed, such as the sublime. Burke proposed a descriptive typology for landscapes with certain physical attributes that was based on what he asserted were the two strongest human instincts: socialization and self-preservation. According to him, pleasurable experiences were the source of the beautiful. Those things that are attractive, reassuring, or inspire love draw out one’s social instincts. The experience of the beautiful is calm and easy as a result of the softness, smoothness, smallness, and harmoniousness of the objects or scenes.
Also according to Burke, in contrast to the beautiful, terrifying experiences was the source of the sublime. Those things that induced fear, anxiety, or terror appealed to the instincts of self-preservation. Experiences of the sublime were often greater in intensity than experiences of beauty because powerful human emotions could be evoked by pain or fear. While these emotions were seemingly unpleasant, they could also be thrilling, or sublime, when experienced from a Merrell Boot safe distance. As such, sublime landscapes could stimulate a type of ‘delightful horror’ or ‘pleasurable pain’. These experiences often involved encounters with darkness, vastness, and emptiness amidst mountains, deserts, or the sea. In essence, sublime landscapes were specifically those places where one would be most likely to “glimpse the face of God”.
Burke’s concept of the sublime created a demand for new destinations both domestically and abroad. Places previously experienced with emotions of danger were re-interpreted with awe, although sublime landscapes were still typically observed from a safe distance. The Alps, for example, were traditionally seen as a life-threatening barrier between northern and southern Europe; however, in the eighteenth century, this geographic feature was redefined and positioned as a sublime experience. In the context of travel further abroad, a few more obstacles had to be overcome “enemies had to be subdued, pirates eliminated and peaceful networks had to be established” before the principles of the sublime could be applied. As more people sought the spectacle of wilderness though, particularly in the nineteenth century, the terrible awe that once characterized sublime landscapes became more comfortable, sentimental, and domesticated.
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