Des ténèbres à la gloire : peindre la montagne en Grande-Bretagne (1747-1867)

Abstract : Until the 18th century, mountainous scenery in Britain was unknown to most of the inhabitants, and it was regarded as wild and gloomy. However, places such as the English Lake District, the Welsh Snowdonia and the Scottish Highlands were instrumental in the development of the art of landscape painting in Britain between the 18th and 19th centuries. Artists’ observation of the northern mountains captured the imagination through two major notions : the picturesque beauty and the sublime. Indeed, walking in English gardens lead to the Home Tour in mountainous lands. From a gloomy natural form following the Flood, the mountain became a symbol of insularity. This called for a re-enchantment through paintings and poetry, and then the mountain was allowed its glory. Watercolourists drew the mountains from Britain and turned them into a studio en plein-air. Thus, topography views led to a new artistic composition, where mountains became more and more painted in visual arts until the creation of a chaos synonymous with Romanticism. In the second half of the 18th century, these mountainous territories took part in the myth of Britishness. They became a symbol of origin, developing along with industrial modernity. The pacification of the Highlands from 1747 encouraged studies on the primitive past, where the northern mountains were natural ruins. In 1820-1830, the quest for origin also implemented the rise of national identities in Scotland and Wales upon British soil. These identities attempted to put an end to Anglicisation by claiming their own cultural specificities and reclaiming the mountain as their national symbol.
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Cybill Whalley. Des ténèbres à la gloire : peindre la montagne en Grande-Bretagne (1747-1867). Histoire. Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I, 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018PA01H323⟩. ⟨tel-02143076⟩

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