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This Green and Pleasant Land: The Story of British Landscape Painting

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Review

This epic survey of British landscape painting has a simple device that it wheels out repeatedly to good effect. It simply places someone – art historian, critic or painter – in the location where an artist painted a landscape and compares the picture with the view. It’s never the same, because the artist’s job is to make things more perfect. Just as the landscape is itself moulded and managed, often to make it more picturesque, especially parklands designed to mimic idealised, Italianate scenes.

Tracing how landscape became a subject in itself, rather than just a backdrop, is made a fascinating business. And this all unfolds within the context of historical events, as outlined by Dan Snow and many other contributors. What we have here is a grand parade stretching from before Gainsborough to Lowry, full of insights and glorious views. There’s nothing flash about it, although Simon Callow’s clipped narration may irritate.

Summary

Artists, critics and academics examine depictions of the British landscape in art. The programme charts the genre's development from the earliest Flemish paintings in the court of Charles I to David Hockney's digital drawings. Featuring contributions by film-maker Nic Roeg, historian Dan Snow and novelist Will Self.

Cast & Crew

Contributor Nic Roeg
Contributor Dan Snow
Contributor Will Self
Producer Spike Geilinger

Documentary

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