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The landscape is a painting genre that depicts scenes from nature, but may also represent elements of human settlements, in which case it is called cityscape.
There are three main types of landscapes, such as the 'cosmic' or 'sublime' landscape, in which the artist reflects the wild nature in full force, and where the human being is incidental; on the other hand, there are other landscapes that depict 'nature dominated by man', where human figures stand amid a friendly environment that is not threatening; and finally, in the 'fully colonized landscape', we find cultivated lands, livestock and pets, and usually some architectural details, like a small cottage, huts, or ruins.
Historically, the landscape began to be used as a background for other subjects such as portraits and religious themes, but gradually it took on its own entity, to be constituted as an autonomous genre in the Dutch school of the seventeenth century.
Since ancient times, the landscape has been present in the artistic representations of Chinese, Egyptian and Roman cultures, often used as a background to contextualize a main scene.
In medieval Western painting, it would be Giotto the first artist who, in the thirteenth century, started using snippets of nature as backgrounds for the mentioned religious paintings which were very popular at the time, replacing the smooth and gold backgrounds that had been used until then .
During the Renaissance, the landscape genre focuses on representing urban utopias and the emerging laws and policies, but it was not until the Baroque period when landscape painting was definitely established as a genre in Europe, thanks to the increase of the number of collectors, who belonged to an emerging new class: the bourgeoisie.
During the nineteenth century the landscape genre became the protagonist of the most important pictorial currents of the time, like Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, of which Vincent Van Gogh would be a great reference.
The landscapes of contemporary painting are heirs to the Impressionist art, which transmits sensations and feelings through color and its representation of landscapes, as did Emil Nolde (Cruncher Nordet, 1932).
In the last decades, however, there has been a tendency to suppress the importance of the landscape by limiting the scope of realism and representation versus abstract painting , although nowadays 'abstract landscape' is the name used to allude to not figurative painters such as Bazaine, Le Moal or Manessier.