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Forest paintings in The Metropolitan Museum: A history of our relationship with forests

4 min read
Forest paintings in The Metropolitan Museum: A history of our relationship with forests

Forests are important for many reasons. They are a source of food and shelter for animals, a source of wood for humans, and they help to regulate the global climate. Forests also have great aesthetic value - they are beautiful places to explore and enjoy. The Metropolitan Museum has a number of artworks that depict forests, many of which date back to the medieval period. These artworks provide insight into how different cultures and religions have represented forests over time.

The Forest in Winter at Sunset

French, Paris 1812–1867 Barbizon / The Met

    This is a monumental forest scene.
    It was begun early in Rousseau's career and remained unfinished at the time of his death.
    It was intended to recreate the effect of a sunset he had seen in Bas-Bréau, a section of Fontainebleau forest, in December 1845.

In the Woods

American, Jefferson, New Jersey 1796–1886 Maplewood, New Jersey / The Met

    The painting departs from the pastoral treatment of Durand's earlier works to celebrate the shadowy solitude of the deep woods.
    Living and dead trees rise from the fertile decay of the forest floor.

Woodland Scene

Dutch, Nijmwegen 1791–1873 Brummen / The Met

    The painting depicts a forest with sunlight filtering through the trees.
    The painting is unusual for the artist, who is better known for his views of Dutch city streets and interiors.
    The painting was likely originally sketched in black chalk out in nature and then completed in the studio.

The Brook in the Woods

Springfield, Ohio 1820–1910 Summit, New Jersey / The Met

    Whittredge, as a colleague of the second-generation Hudson River School artists John Frederick Kensett and Sanford R. Gifford, specialized in views of the Catskill Mountains, New England, and the American West.
    His later works, however, demonstrate his growing interest in the poetic landscapes of the French Barbizon painters as well as the evocative canvases of George Inness, who worked in Montclair, New Jersey, not far from the home Whittredge occupied in Summit from 1880 until his death in 1910.
    "The Brook in the Woods" is a fine example of his Barbizon-inspired mode.

The Banks of the Bièvre near Bicêtre

French, Laval 1844–1910 Paris / The Met

    Rousseau identified the subject of this painting in a handwritten note, affixed to its stretcher, dated 1909, the year he consigned it for sale to the dealer Ambroise Vollard.
    The scene depicts the landscape around Bicêtre, a working-class community on the southern edge of Paris near the Bièvre river (now buried underground as it courses through the city).

Edge of a Wood

French, Chaumes, Nièvre 1798–1871 Lyon / The Met

    In this study, tonality and the dispersal of light are emphasized at the expense of detail.
    Aligny developed this distinctive approach to painting and drawing from nature in the 1820s, first alongside his companion Camille Corot in Italy and later in the Forest of Fontainebleau in his native France.
    The view seen here may have been sketched in the park of the château of Mortefontaine near Senlis, northeast of Paris, which Aligny visited in 1850 and 1851.

At the Edge of the Forest

German, Dresden 1794–1822 Innsbruck / The Met

    This view opens towards meadows and the distant Elbsandsteingebirge, sandstone mountains rising to the south of Dresden.
    Heinrich approached landscape with the sober objectivity of a botanist, which set him apart from his Romantic colleagues Friedrich and Dahl.
    This is one of only five known paintings by Heinrich; a related study is in the Museum Georg Schäfer, Schweinfurt.

The Forest at Pontaubert

From 14th Century To 15th Century

From 14th Century To 15th Century

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From 1819 To 1826

From 1819 To 1826

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From 1787 To 1800

From 1787 To 1800

The 18th century was a time of great change in the world of art. New styles and genres emerged, and artists began to experiment with new techniques and materials. The art of the 18th century reflected the changing times, and the growing interest in the natural world and the human form. Elizabeth Farren (born about 1759, died 1829), Later Countess of Derby     The Irish actress Elizabeth Farren made her London debut in 1777 and soon became one of the most popular comic performers of the day.  
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