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17th Century Anthropomorphic Landscapes

Do you see the face in this image by Wenceslas Hollar? At first, it looks like someone just painted what they saw in the countryside. But it’s a made-up landscape with an illusion embedded. These pictures became somewhat of a fad in the Netherlands during the 1600s.  

Prior to the Renaissance, landscape was principally used as a scene-setting backdrop for figurative art. Trees, fields, mountains, and storm-tossed seas were only present to add verisimilitude to the human activity contained within the frame. It seemed as if landscape was nothing without a human narrative. But this gradually changed. Landscape painting soon became an artistic form of its own. During the transitory period between the two forms there was a moment when figurative art and the desire to depict landscape briefly coalesced in anthropomorphic etchings and paintings.

You’ll see a whole bunch of these landscapes at Flashback. -via the Presurfer


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