Sunday, September 06, 2015

View of Pernambuco, Brazil

I have added a new feature to this blog - maps.  Click on one of the links above and you get a zoomable Google Map with pins connected to the 'locations' of my earlier posts (see example above).  Over the years I haven't written specifically about individual places of course, so the geotags tend to relate where relevant to the main subject of the artwork, or of one of the artworks discussed.  Some landscapes have been non-specific, ideal or imaginary so the maps do not include all my old posts.  As I write this, I have not yet finished going back through them all and adding tags - enjoyable but laborious, even if it is improving my geography.  It is throwing up a few interesting problems; I found, for example, that Anahorish, celebrated in poetry by Seamus Heaney, officially 'doesn't exist'.  There are some technical limitations to the maps (no embedded audio or video), and to the way RSS feeds work that mean I have had to split posts over several maps rather than having just one (nor can I host them here, so thanks to my friend John for putting the code on his own site).  Also, these are not really designed for small mobile devices, although they do work on my iPad.

Frans Post, View of Pernambuco, Brazil, ca. 1637-44

For me it has been interesting seeing where I have and haven't written about - very little on South America for example.  Googling Brazil and landscape art I see that that, apart from the renowned landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, you tend to get references to a seventeenth century Dutchman, Frans Post.  He is an interesting artist.  The familiar view of colonial painters is that they were conditioned by European attitudes and painting conventions, excluding as much as they included, producing views that resemble the Roman Campagna with added palm trees.  Whilst Post was in Brazil, he managed to make it resemble the Netherlands with low horizons and grey skies, but he also included details taken directly from nature.  Once he was back, colour flooded in and his compositions became more idealised, whilst the figures (often slaves) were relegated to mere details.  In 1648 he painted the landscape elements of a Biblical scene, the Sacrifice of Manoah, giving it a Brazilian setting, complete with armadillo and iguana.  According to Seymour Slive, in his survey of Dutch Painting 1600-1800, 'the rather naive quality of Post's pictures has earned him the title of the 'Douanier Rousseau' of the seventeenth century'.

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