Landscape Painting is the art of depicting natural scenery in painting.
The Romans seem to have been the first to employ landscape in painting for its own sake. During most of the Middle Ages, Western art was almost exclusively religious, and landscapes were depicted only occasionally in painting, as an incidental feature. From about the 14th century, however, landscape began to assume a more prominent place in art. By 1600 landscape had become established as an independent branch of art. The first great flowering of landscape painting occurred in 17th-century Holland. Many scholars regard Jacob van Ruisdael, who painted during the mid-17th century, as the greatest of all Dutch landscape painters.
In Italy the tradition known as the ideal landscape developed. In this approach, the elements of nature were arranged into carefully structured, elegant compositions that served as settings for mythological or religious subjects. The ideal landscape's most famous exponents were Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin, French painters who worked in Rome in the mid-17th century. The ideal landscape continued to flourish in the 19th century, but other approaches also emerged, notably in the work of Romantic painters such as Caspar David Friedrich in Germany and J. M. W. Turner in Britain, who emphasized the awesome and mystical aspects of nature.
In the United States, members of the Hudson River School expressed a similar spirit as well as a desire to glorify the natural beauty of their country, especially its spectacular mountain scenery. At the same time, such painters as Camille Corot in France and John Constable in Britain enriched the landscape tradition with a new spirit through their loving observation of ordinary scenes.