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The Picturesque
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"Picturesque" describes a particular type of landscape and was first associated with European painting in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The term applies to depictions of nature that are vividly striking , evoking awe and amazement in the viewer. American landscape painters such as Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Moran, as well as photographers such as Carleton Watkins, Charles Bierstadt, and Eadweard Muybridge, popularized this concept in their stunning, expansive views of our country areas that had never been seen before by most Americans. The photographs of natural wonder such as Niagara Falls and Yosemite, which were even more awesome as images taken from life, confirmed the grandeur depicted by American landscape painters..

Charles Bierstadt
The Rapids Below the Suspension Bridge
Charles Bierstadt, the brother of Albert Bierstadt, was well known for his dramatic landscape photographs.

John Moran
Tropical Scenery: The Terminus of the Proposed Canal--Limon Bay
Philadelphia landscape photographer John Moran, brother of painter Thomas Moran, compared photography to the fine arts, stating that it "speaks the same language, and addresses the same sentiments. It is our simple and unselfish delight in nature which is the foundation of all the beautiful or fine arts."

Charles L. Mitchell
The Pool, White Mountains
The Pool, White Mountains adheres to the idea of the Picturesesque, although it is contemporary with the Pictorialist movement. A critic of the Pictorialist photographers, Mitchell preferred to present nature in a straightforward manner, making no attempts to alter the view through manipulation of the negative or print.

Eadweard Muybridge
Valley of the Yosemite from Union Point
Muybridge's dramatic views are notable for his remarkable placement of the camera in areas difficult to reach. "He has gone to points where his packers refused to follow him, "wrote one observer.

Timothy O'Sullivan,
Shoshone Falls, Snake River, Idaho, View Across the Top of the Falls
Timothy O'Sullivan's photographs for the geological surveys of the western territories were meant to be documentary---clear and informative rather than picturesque. However, O Sullivan's visually sophisticated techniques unintentionally achieved both ends.

Barbara Bosworth
Niagara Falls
Bosworth's photograph of Niagra Falls, taken in 1986, proves that the famous scenic view remains as visually powerful as it was over one humdred years ago.


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