Baroque and Beyond C. 1600–1850


What is “picturesque”?

Though the literal meaning of “picturesque” is “like a picture,” the term refers to the aesthetically pleasing qualities of a painting that come from texture, lighting, composition, and engaging formal irregularities. During the eighteenth century, British painters found the seventeenth-century landscapes of artists such as Nicolas Poussin and Jacob van Ruisdael to exemplify the picturesque due to their subtlety and mystery. So inspired, British architects even designed gardens after landscape paintings, and during the nineteenth century, Britain saw a surge in domestic tourism to such “picturesque” locations as the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands, which were made popular by Romantic poets such as William Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Art History Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App