nature - The material world and its phenomena, laws, beauties, etc., especially those parts remaining in a primitive, untouched state, unchanged by humans.

Definitions of art invariably exclude untouched nature, and yet it has been among the most important subjects for artists. Nature has been the principal subject of artists depicting landscapes, seascapes, and animalia, along with much still life; and it is the primary medium as well as subject of those making earth art. Although nature has been important to artists of all periods and movements, it has been especially important to those involved in Romanticism and Naturalism.

Nature was banished from the work of painters producing the geometric images of De Stijl. Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872-1944), the group's leading figure, said he would not permit anything green into his studio!

 


Examples:

 

 

 

see thumbnail to leftAlbrecht Dürer (German, 1471-1528), A Young Hare, 1502, 25 x 23 cm, watercolor and body color on paper, Graphische Sammlung, Albertina, Vienna. See Northern Renaissance.

 

 

 

 

see thumbnail to rightAlbrecht Dürer, The Large Turf, 1503, watercolor and gouache on paper, 41 x 32 cm, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna.

 

 

 

 

see thumbnail to leftAlbrecht Dürer, Wing of a Roller, 1512, watercolor and gouache on vellum, 20 x 20 cm, Graphische Sammlung, Vienna. Also see feather.

 

 

see thumbnail to rightA Painter ot the Kano School, (Japanese, active 1596-1614), Falcon on Oak Tree Watching Monkeys, six-panel folding screen; ink and light color on paper; no signature; interpolated jar-shaped kuninobu seal of Kano Eitoku (1543-90), Worcester Art Museum, MA. See Edo period and landscape.

 

 

see thumbnail to leftJacob van Ruisdael (Dutch, 1628-1682), Dune Landscape with Oak Tree, 1650-55, black chalk, brush and gray wash and gouache, framing lines in pen and brown ink, 8 1/4 x 7 1/2 inches (21.0 x 19.1 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See landscape.

 

 

Maria Sibylla Merian, (German, 1647-1717), Plate 1 from Dissertation in Insect Generations and Metamorphosis in Surinam, second edition, 1719, hand-colored engraving on paper, 12 3/4 x 9 3/4 inches, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC.

 

 

 

see thumbnail to rightJean-Honoré Fragonard (French, 1732-1806), A Gathering at Woods' Edge, c. 1760-1780, red chalk, 14 3/4 x 19 3/8 inches (37.5 x 49.2 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.

 

 

see thumbnail to leftNagasawa Rosetsu (Japanese, 1754-99), Bamboo, 1790s, six-panel folding screen; ink on paper; no signature; seals: (upper) Nagasawa, (lower) Gyo, Worcester Art Museum, MA. See bamboo, Edo period, and landscape.

 

 

 

 

see thumbnail to rightJohn James Audubon (American, 1785-1851), Douglass' Squirrel, a study for pl. 48 of Viviparous Quadripeds of North America by John James Audubon and Rev. John Bachman (New York: John James Audubon, published 1845-1848), c. 1843, watercolor, ink, graphite, and glaze on wove paper, 12 1/4 x 9 1/2 inches (310 x 242 mm), Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, CA.

 

 

 

 

 

see thumbnail to leftAsher B. Durand (American, 1796-1886), Kindred Spirits, 1849, oil on canvas, 44 x 36 inches, New York Public Library. Durand represented the naturalistic strain of America's Hudson River School. Kindred Spirits is a portrait in nature of the painter Thomas Cole with his friend, the poet William Cullen Bryant.

 

 

 

see thumbnail to rightWilliam Henry Jackson (American, 1843-1942), Old Faithful, Wyoming, 1870, albumen print, 20 3/16 x 16 3/4 inches (51.4 x 42.5 cm), J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA.

 

 

 

see thumbnail to leftJohn Singer Sargent (American, born in Italy, 1856-1925), Muddy Alligators, 1917, watercolor over graphite on off-white wove paper, Worcester Art Museum, MA.

 

 

Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986), Pink Shell with Seaweed, c. 1937, 22 x 28 inches, pastel on paper, San Diego Museum of Art, CA. See volute.

 

 

 

see thumbnail to leftMaurits Cornelis Escher, Ant, 1943, lithograph, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. See optical illusion.

 

 

 

 

see thumbnail to rightZhang Yuan (Chinese), Autumn Flowers, 1948, ink and color on paper, Phoenix Art Museum, AZ. See botanical and Republican period.

 

 

Maurits Cornelis Escher, Puddle, 1952, woodcut in three colors, 24 x 31.9 cm (9 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches).

 

 

Maurits Cornelis Escher, Three Worlds, 1955, lithograph, 36.2 x 24.7 cm (14 1/4 x 9 3/4 inches).

 

 

see thumbnail to leftWalton Ford (American, 1960-), Falling Bough, 2002, watercolor, gouache, ink and pencil on paper, 60 3/4 x 119 1/2 inches, private collection, TN.

 

 

 

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Also see suiseki.

 

 

 

 

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