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Prospect, Perspective and the Evolution of the Landscape Idea

Author(s): Denis Cosgrove

Reviewed work(s):
Source: Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series, Vol. 10, No. 1 (1985),
pp. 45-62
Published by: Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British
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Prospect, andtheevolution
perspective of
in Geography,
Loughborough Leic.LE113 TU

24 May 1984
RevisedMS received

Thelandscape concept ingeography hasrecently beenadoptedbyhumanistic writersbecauseofitsholistic
tiveimplications. ofthelandscape ideasuggeststhatitsorigins lieintherenaissancehumanists'searchfor
certainty thana vehicleofindividual subjectivity.
Landscape wasa 'wayofseeing'thatwasbourgeois, individual-
istandrelatedto theexercise ofpoweroverspace.Thebasictheory andtechnique ofthelandscape wayofseeingwas
perspective,as important forthehistoryofthegraphic imageas printing wasforthatofthewritten word.Alberti's
perspective ofrealisminartuntilthenineteenth century, byhimto socialclass
andis closelyrelated
andspatialhierarchy. Itemploys thesamegeometry as merchant tradingandaccounting, landsurvey,
navigation, map-
Perspective appliedinthecityandthentoa country
is first subjugated tourbancontrolandviewedas
landscape. oflandscape painting
parallelsthatofgeometry justas itdoesthechanging socialrelations
thelandinTudor,Stuart andGeorgian England. Thevisualpowergivenbythelandscape wayofseeingcomplements
therealpowerhumans exertoverlandas property. Landscapeas a geographical concept cannotbefreeoftheideological
overlaysofitshistory as a visualconcept unlessitsubjects
landscape tohistorical Onlyas anunexamined
conceptin a geography whichneglects itsownvisualfoundations canlandscape foran antiscientific
be appropriated

KEY WORDS: Landscape,Geometry,Perspective, Humanism,

Prospect, Ideology,Graphicimage,Cartography,
Painting, Survey,
Morphology, Space.

Geographicalinterestin the landscapeconcepthas geographical environment, aspects which

seen a revivalin recentyears.In largemeasurethisis geographicalscienceis claimedto have devaluedat
a consequence of the humanist renaissance in best and at worst,ignored.Marwyn Samuels,for
geography.Havingenjoyeda degreeofprominence example,3 refers to landscapes as 'authored',
in the interwaryears,landscapefellfromfavourin CourticeRose thinkingalong similarlines would
the 1950s and 1960s. Its referenceto the visible analyse landscapes as texts,4and Edward Relph
formsof a delimitedarea to be subjectedto mor- regardslandscapeas 'anythingI see and sensewhen
phologicalstudy(a usage stillcurrent in theGerman I am out of doors-landscape is thenecessarycon-
'landscapeindicators'school)' appeared subjective textand backgroundbothof mydailyaffairs and of
and too imprecisefor Anglo-Saxon geographers themoreexoticcircumstances ofmylife'.5American
developinga spatialscience.The static,descriptive humanistgeographershave adopted landscapefor
morphologyof landscape ill-suitedtheir call for theveryreasonsthattheirpredecessorsrejectedit.It
dynamic functionalregions to be defined and appears to point towardsthe experiential, creative
investigatedby geographerscontributing to econ- and humanaspects of our environmental relations,
omicand socialplanning.2 ratherthan to the objectified,manipulatedand
Recently, and primarilyin North America, mechanicalaspectsof thoserelations.It is the latter
geographershave sought to reformulate landscape againstwhichhumanismis a protest,whichRelph
as a concept whose subjective and artistic tracesto the seventeenthcenturyscientific revol-
resonancesare to be activelyembraced.They allow utionand itsCartesiandivisionofsubjectand object.
forthe incorporation of individual,imaginativeand Landscape seems to embody the holism which
creative human experience into studies of the modernhumanists proclaim.

Trans.Inst.Br.Geogr.N.S. 10: 45-62 (1985) ISSN: 0020-2750 Printedin GreatBritain

In Britaina revivalof landscapeis also apparent. dominationover space as an absolute, objective
Here the humanistcritiquein geographyhas been entity,its transformation into the propertyof
less vocal. Recent landscape study has remained individualor state. And landscape achieved these
closerto popularusage of theword as an artisticor ends by use of the same techniquesas thepractical
literaryresponse to the visible scene.6 Among sciences,principally by applyingEuclidiangeometry
British geographers interest in landscape was as the guarantorof certainty in spatialconception,
stimulatedpartlyby perceptionstudies,particularly organizationand representation. In thecase of land-
the short-livedexcitementover landscape evalu- scape the techniquewas optical,linearperspective,
ation forplanningpurposeswhichsurroundedthe but the principlesto be learned were identical
1973 reformof local government.7This led to to those of architecture, survey,map-makingand
variousmechanistic theoriesof landscapeaesthetics artilleryscience.The same handbookstaughtthe
which, like Jay Appleton's ethologically-foundedpractitioners all ofthesearts.1
and influential 'habitattheory'of landscape,8had Landscape,likethepracticalsciencesof theItalian
littlein commonwiththe humanismproclaimedin Renaissance,was foundedupon scientific theoryand
NorthAmericanstudies. knowledge. Its subsequent history can best be
Epistemological divergence notwithstanding,understoodin conjunctionwith the historyof sci-
landscapeis again a focusof geographicalinterest. ence.Yet in itscontemporary humanistguisewithin
Withthatinteresthas come a refreshing willingness geography,landscapeis deployedwithina radically
bygeographersto employlandscaperepresentations anti-scientific programme.Significantly that pro-
-in painting,imaginativeliteratureand garden grammeis equallynon-visual.Recentprogrammatic
design-as sources for answering geographical statements of geographicalhumanism(and critiques
questions.9The purposeof thispaper is to support of it) in the pages of these Transactions are notable
and promote that initiativewhile simultaneously fortheirconcentration on verbal,literary and linguis-
enteringcertaincaveats about adopting the land- tic modes of communication and for theiralmnost
scape idea without subjecting it to critical
historical complete neglect of the visual and its place in
examinationas a term which embodies certain geography.12The attackon scienceis characteristic
assumptionsabout relationsbetween humansand of much contemporary humanistwriting.But the
theirenvironment, or morespecifically, society and apparentlack of interestin thegraphicimageis more
space. These caveats go beyond landscapeas such surprising. Considerthe traditions of our discipline,
and touch upon aspects of the whole humanist its alignmentwith cartographyand the long-held
endeavourwithingeography. beliefthattheresultsofgeographicalscholarship are
Landscape firstemerged as a term, an idea, or best embodied in themap. Consider too the human-
betterstill,a way ofseeingiothe externalworld,in ists'proclaimedinterestin imagesof place and land-
the fifteenth and early sixteenthcenturies.It was, scape, and yet their remarkableneglect of the
and it remains,a visualterm,one thatarose initially visual.13 Indeed the clearest statementof the
out of renaissancehumanismand its particular con- centralityofsightingeographythatI knowis found
cepts and constructsof space. Equally,landscape in William Bunge's TheoreticalGeography,a
was, overmuchofitshistory, closelyboundup with manifestoforspatialscience:'geographyis the one
the practicalappropriation of space.As we shallsee, predictivescience whose inner logic is literally
its connectionswere withthe surveyand mapping visible'.'4 Bunge's book may be closer in spiritto
of newly-acquired,consolidated and 'improved' the originalhumanistauthorsof thelandscapeidea
commercialestates in the hands of an urban than his contemporary humanistcritics.The book
bourgeoisie;with the calculationof distance and afterall is a celebrationof thecertainty of geometry
trajectory forcannonfireand of defensivefortifica- as theconstructional principleofspace.
tions against the new weaponry; and with the In fact,the humanistattackon science and its
projection of the globe and its regions onto map neglectof the visual image in geographyare not
graticulesby cosmographersand chorographers, unconnected.They both resultin some measure
those essential set designers for Europe's entry fromthe lack of criticalreflection on the European
centre-stage of the world'stheatre. In painting and humanist tradition,from the conflationof thespatial
garden design landscape achieved visually and themein geographywitha positivistepistemology,
ideologicallywhat survey,map makingand ord- and froma mystification of art and literature.All
nance chartingachievedpractically: thecontroland threeof these aspects will be illustrated in a brief
Evolution idea 47
explorationof thelandscapeidea as a way of seeing Gutenberg invention of movable type in the
in the Europeanvisual tradition,emphasizingthat 1440s.16In thequadrivium, alwaysmoretheoretical,
tradition'smost enduringconventionof space rep- the criticaladvance came fromthe re-evaluation
resentation, linearperspective.In thisexplorationI of Euclid and the elevation of geometryto the
shall justifyand elaboratethe claim thatthe land- keystone of human knowledge, specificallyits
scape idea is a visual ideology;an ideology all too application to three-dimensional space represen-
easily adopted unknowingly into geographywhen tationthroughsingle-point perspectivetheoryand
the landscapeidea is transferred as an unexamined technique. Perspective, the medieval study of
conceptintoourdiscipline. optics, was one of the mathematicalarts,studied
since the twelfth-century revival of learning,
GEOMETRY, PERSPECTIVE AND as evidencedfor example in Roger Bacon's work.
RENAISSANCE HUMANISM Painterslike Cimabue and Giotto had constructed
Traditionallythe seven liberal arts of medieval theirpicturesin new ways to achieve a greater
scholarship weregroupedintotwo sets.The trivium realism(il vero)than theirpredecessors.'7But the
was composed of grammar, rhetoricand logic; the theoreticaland practicaldevelopmentof a coherent
quadriviumof arithmetic, geometry,astronomyand linear perspective awaited the fifteenth-century
music.While in its narrowestdefinition humanism Tuscan Renaissance.That movement,despite its
referredto studies in the trivium(the recovery, emphasison classicaltexts,grammarand rhetoric,
securedatingand translation of texts),manyearly revolutionizedspatial apprehensionsin the west.
renaissancehumanists wereequallyfascinated by the For the plastic and visual arts:painting,sculpture
materialof thequadrivium, seeking unity know- and architecture,
a of and forgeographyand cosmology,
ledge acrossall thearts.15The fifteenth centurysaw all concerned with space and spatial relations,
revolutionaryadvances in both sets of studies, it was fromthe quadrivium,fromgeometryand
advanceswhichalteredtheirorganization, socialsig- number theory, that form and structurewere
nificance and rolein theproductionand communica- determined-eveniftheircontentwas providedby
tionofhumanknowledgeoftheworldand ourplace thetrivium.
withinit. In the arenaof words,languageand writ- In 1435 the Florentinehumanistand architect
ten expressionthe most strikingadvance was the Leon BattistaAlbertipublishedhis Della Pittura(On

--- Median rays

FIGURE 1. The visual triangleas describedby Alberti(fromSamuel Y. EdgertonJr,The Renaissance of linearperspective,
Harperand Row, London,1975, reproducedwithpermission)
painting),'8a workwhose authorityin artisticthe- appreciated(Fig 2). We need not concernourselves
ory enduredbeyond the eighteenthcenturywhen herewiththe detailsand accuracyof Alberti'scon-
Sir JoshuaReynolds,firstpresidentof the Royal struction(exceptperhapsto note the definition of
Academy,used it as the foundationforhis lectures pyramid,lifteddirectlyfromEuclid).Butwe should
on pictorialcomposition,beautyand the hierarchy observecertainconsequencesthatflowfromit.First,
of genres.In Della PitturaAlbertidemonstratesa formand positionin space are shownto be relative
techniquewhichhe had workedout experimentallyratherthanabsolute.The formsof whatwe see, of
forconstructing a visualtrianglewhichallowed the objects in space and of geometricalfiguresthem-
painterto determine theshapeand measurement ofa selves,vary withthe angle and distanceof vision.
griddedsquareplaced on the ground when viewed They are producedby the sovereigneye, a single
along the horizontalaxis, and to reproducein pic- eye, for this is not a theoryof binocularvision.
torial formits appearance to the eye. The con- Secondly,Albertiregardstheraysof visionas hav-
struzioneleggitimagave the realist illusion of ing origin in the eye itself,thus confirmingits
three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional sur- sovereigntyat the centre of the visual world.
face.This construction, thefoundationof linearper- Thirdly,he creates a technique which became
spective,dependedupon conceptsof the vanishing fundamental to the realistrepresentation
of space
point, distance point and intersecting plane.Alberti and theexternal world. The artist,
describesit as a triangleof raysextendingoutwards tive, establishesthe arrangement or composition,
fromtheeye and striking theobjectof vision.There and thusthe specifictime,of the eventsdescribed,
are threekindsofray(Fig I). determines-inboth senses-the 'pointof view' to
be takenby theobserver,and controlsthroughfram-
Theextrinsic rays,thuscircling theplane-one touch- ing the scope of realityrevealed.Perspectivetech-
ing the other,encloseall the planelikethe willow nique was so effective thatthe realistconventions
wands of a basketcage, and make... the visual which it underlaywere not chal-
pyramid. Itis timeformeto describe whatthepyramid untilthenineteenth
is and how it is constructed lenged century.20
by theserays... The Realistrepresentation of three-dimensional
is a figure ofa bodyfrom whosebaselinesare space
pyramid on a two-dimensional surfacethroughlinearper-
drawnupward, terminating a
at singlepoint. The base
ofthepyramid is theplanewhichis seen.Thesidesof spective directs the externalworld towards the
thepyramid aretherayswhichI havecalledextrinsic.individuallocatedoutsidethatspace.It givestheeye
Thecuspid,thatis thepointofthepyramid, is located absolutemasteryover space. The centricraymoves
within theeyewheretheangleofthequantity is.19 in a directline fromtheeye to thevanishingpoint,
to the depth of the recessionalplane. Space is
The visual pyramidhere describedis familiarto measuredand calculatedfromthisline and the rest
every geographerwho reads Area, although its of what is seen constructedaround the vanishing
geographicalsignificance may not always be fully point and withinthe framefixedby externalrays.



FIGURE 2. A seventeenth-century to readersofArea)

'way ofseeing'(familiar
Evolution idea
ofthelandscape 49



...... ............... ~
~ ......
.... .:??

FIGURE3. Ambrogio 'GoodGovernment PalazzoPubblico,
intheCity'detailfrom Siena(dittaO. B6hm)

Visually space is renderedthe propertyof the Peterthe Keys to the Kingdomof Heaven (Fig 4)
individualdetached observer,fromwhose divine paintedon thewall oftheSistineChapelin 1481,the
location it is a dependent,appropriatedobject. A significance of perspectiveis clear.Lorenzettishows
simplemovementof the head, closingthe eyes or us thecityas an activebustlingworldof humanlife
turningaway and the compositionand spatialform wherein people and their environmentinteract
of objects are alteredor even negated. Develop- across a space whereunityderivesfromthe action
mentsfromthe fifteenth centurymay have altered on itssurface.
the assumedpositionof the observer,or used per-
Thesepre-perspective urbanlandscapesshownot so
spective analyticallyratherthan syntheticallyas much what thetowns looked likeas whatitfeltliketo
Albertiand his contemporaries intended,21 but this
be inthem.We getan impression ofthetownsnotas
visual appropriationof space endured unaltered. a
they mighthavelookedto a detached observer
Significantly, the adoption of linearperspectiveas fixedvantagepointbutas theymight haveimpressed a
theguarantorof pictorialrealismwas contemporary andseeingthebuild-
pedestrian up thestreets
withthose otherrealisttechniquesof painting:oils, ingsfrommanydifferent sides.23
framing and productionfora marketofmobile,small
canvases. In this respect perspective may be By contrast,in Perugino'sideal city a formal,
regarded as one of a number of techniqueswhich monumental order is organized throughprecise
allowed forthevisualrepresentation of a bourgeois, geometry,constructedby the eye aroundthe axis
rationalistconceptionoftheworld. whichleads across the chequerboardpiazza to the
The termbourgeoisis appropriate, forlinearper- circulartempleat its centre.The piazza,geometrical
spectivewas an urbaninvention, employedinitially centreofthiscity,becomesin thisgenresymbolicof
to representthe spaces of the city. It was first the whole city.24The hillsand treesbeyondreflect
demonstrated practically by Alberti'sclose associate, thesameregimented orderas theurbanarchitecture.
Filippo Brunelleschi, in a famous experiment of 1425 The people of the city, or ratherwithinit,forthey
whenhe succeededin throwingan imageoftheBap- reveal no particularattachmentto it, group them-
tisteryat Florenceonto a canvas set up in the great selves in dignifiedand theatrical poses. In the 'ideal
portal of the cathedral.22 If we compareAmbrogio townscapes' of the late fifteenth-century Umbrian
Lorenzetti's well-knownfrescoesin thePalazzo Pub- school of Piero della Francesca humans scarcely
blico at Siena (Fig 3) whichrepresentgood govern- appear. They have no need to forthe 'measureof
mentin the city,paintedin the 1340s, withPeitro man',so neatlycapturedin Leonardoda Vinci'sMan
Perugino's representationof Christgiving to St ina Circleand a Square,is writtenintothemeasured
x~i:~rQ M~:?i:aww'~j::
1:::1:::::?::1:1:1:1:i:':::::-:l:':l:l:l ..
Illlilliililil:liiIli:::::il:::l:i:i:l ~:gi :~i?:-:::?:?:??l?:-::::::'i:I:i:::::j:::


ii~CO.iiiiiiijiiijhiiiiii'ii?i.i.i:i: ?: I~iBLli~iiiB
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?? B;~a! i-i " '~Zil
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II: i~ia~~l -
r:i :1
li?8BS88~8eB~aBBB~~I;:~~:X:jir~d~Bs~B~~ _-_-~;L~i?~j~31~;i18~.::-:~S~Bs~BH~sE~81
r~~silillii iii
''iiiiiiiii~iL~:iij~~i~-I -ili-~~ll~j~ir~~-i :!-
:Pi---'?:::~3~;~~iiij~7~e~61~8~~ g:~S~Ss~~
'' . .-isay '
.-: I~i j~f88li~?i8~i~Bsa~ase~s~an~gi
ii-i:iii??i~.~i"iiia4 Il~iBid ~

~~:::~~_: :I:--r-:-I^;~.-i?--?:
..L...._ r~s; -::::~:S~:i:-:
::-:_:-:::~;:::i:il:'::d:i::t:::::l.':l :::_~;:':'::i:l::~::I:::l:::-:-:_-is~is~.
: ?-~i.l::::--i---:~:--:-:

FIGURE 4. PietroPerugino:'Christgivingto St PetertheKeys to theKingdomofHeaven' VaticanCity,SistineChapel (dittaO. B6hm)

architectural facadesand proportionedspaces of the appear in printedbook form,followingonly two

city,an intellectualmeasure ratherthan sensuous yearsafterthefirst printedgeometryand settingthe
humanlife.25This alertsus to thefactthatperspec- model fora collectionof latertexts.Paciolidevotes
tiveand itsgeometryhad a greatersignificance than thesecondbook of thevolumeto geometryand the
merelyitsemployment as a paintingtechnique. measurementof distance,surfaceand volume. He
The mathematicsand geometryassociated with points out the value of such skillsforland survey
perspectivewere directlyrelevantto the economic and map making,.for warfareand navigation.Froma
lifeof the Italianmerchantcitiesof theRenaissance, text like thisItalianmerchantslearnedto calculate
to tradingand capitalistfinance,to agriculture and visuallyor 'gauge' by eye and usingntthevolumeof
theland market, to navigationand warfare.Michael a barrel,a churn,a haystackor otherregularshape,a
Baxandall26has shownthatmerchants attendingthe valuable skillin an age beforestandardsizes and
abbacoor commercialschool in theiryouthunder- volumesbecame thenorm.This visualgaugingwas
took a curriculum whichprovidedthe key skillsof regardedas a wonderful skill.In thewordsof Silvio
mathematicsforapplicationin commerce:account- it is
Belliwritingof visual surveyin 1573: 'certainly
ing, book-keeping,calculationof interestand rates a wondrousthingto measurewiththeeye,because
of return, determining proportionsin jointriskven- to everyone who does not know its rationaleit
tures.One of the most commonlyused testssum- appears completely impossible.'28 It has been
marizingthe various merchantskillswas Fra Luca arguedthatthesearchforaccuratevisualtechniques
Pacioli's Summa di Arithmetica, Geometria,Propor- of land survey held back Italian innovationsin
tioneet Proportionalita (1494).27 Its author,a close instrumentation formanydecades,29but thesignifi-
friendof Leonardo,acknowledgesAlbertias well as cance accorded to it indicates the importance
Ptolemyand Vitruvius, and of courseEuclidamong attachedto the power of vision linkedto intellect
his sources.While Piero della Francescahad himself throughgeometry,and how the principleswhich
writtenan earliertext,De Abbaco,Pacioli'swas the underlayperspectivetheory were the everyday
firstcompletemanual of practicalmathematicsto skillsoftheurbanmerchant.
Evolution idea
ofthelandscape 51
Not all land surveywas by eye. The astrolabe, creationin whichGod was to be foundat thecentre
quadrantand plane tablewere in use and discussed and circumferenceof the cosmos. A regular
in the textscited.For map makersand navigators geometryproceedingfromthe perfectionof the
these were crucialinstruments. But they required circleunderlaythe structureof both spiritualand
geometrical calculation to make their results temporalworlds.Geometryand proportiontook on
meaningful.The Italian renaissancewas a carto- therefore a metaphysicalsignificance, one thatwas
graphic as much as an artistic
event. Ptolemy whose given even greaterweight with the translatingand
Almagesthad always rankedas a key geometrical misdatingof the CorpusHermeticum by Marsilio
source became known too for his Cosmografia,Ficinoin 1464 and theintroduction of cabalistnum-
broughtas a Greektextto Florenceat thebeginning ber theoryby Pico della Mirandolain 1486.34 The
of the fifteenth century.Albertiproducedan accu- circle,the golden section,the rule of threes,all of
rately surveyedmap of Rome, Leonardo one of thempartand parcelof theintellectual and practical
Pavia. These were regardedas revelationsof the baggage of the Renaissance merchant,sailor,
rationalorder of created space produced by the surveyorand chartmaker, could be relatedto the
application of geometry. Perhaps more closely most eruditemetaphysicalspeculation.Above all it
relatedto landscapepaintingwas thepiantaprospet- was the humanintellect,humanreason,thatcould
tiva,the bird'seye view of citieswhichbecame so apprehendthissignificance and seek the certainties
popular at the turn of the sixteenthcentury. Among of geometry. And the human body, createdin the
thebestknownof theseis Jacopode 'Barbari's1500 imageand likenessof God, replicatedin microcosm
map of Venice,likeso manyof its typeas muchan the divineproportions, as Leonardo'shumanfigure
ideological expression of urban dominion as an enclosed in divine geometrymakes clear. At the
accuraterenderingof the urbanscene.30The view- centreof Renaissancespace, the space reproduced
pointforthesemapsis, significantly, highabove the by perspective,was the human individual,the
city,distant,commanding, uninvolved.It is thesame measureof his world and its temporalcreatorand
perspectivethatwe findin Bruegel'sor Titian'sland- controller.Like God, the microcosm,man, also
scapes,panoramasover greatsweeps of earthspace, appears at the circumference of Renaissancespace,
seas,mountainsand promontories. high above the globe, seeing it spread beforethe
Linearperspectiveorganizesand controlsspatial sphere of his eye in perspectiveon the map, the
coordinates, and because it was founded in piantaprospettiva or thepanoramiclandscape.
geometry it was regarded as the discovery of The authority attributed to man35was exercised
inherent propertiesof space itself.3'In this,perspec- in a hierarchy thatwas at once spatialand social,a
tivehad a deeperculturalsignificance, as Pollaiuolo's hierarchy in whichthelandscapeidea playeda signi-
bas-reliefof Prospettiva as a nubilegoddess, sculp- ficant,if subordinaterole.Referring to architecture,
ted on thetombofSixtusIV in 1493 mightsuggest. the 'queen of the arts',Albertidiscussesthe decor-
One oftheearliestand mostwidelyinfluential ofthe ationsuitableto different buildings:
Renaissancethinkers, thePaduanhumanistNicholas
of Cusa, theologian,cosmographerand mathema- Bothpaintings andpoetryvaryinkind.The typethat
tician,challengedthe Aristotelianscholasticworld portrays thedeedsof greatmen,worthy of memory,
view in his De Docta Ignorantia of 1440 by appeal fromthatwhichdescribes
differs thehabitsofprivate
to theEuclideangeometry.32 citizensand againfromthatdepicting thelifeof the
Rejectingtheidea that The which is in should
there could be no empiricalknowledge of the peasants. first, majestic character,
be usedforpublicbuildings and thedwellings of the
spiritualsphereby men confined to the temporal, great,whilethelastmentioned wouldbe suitablefor
and thusno directknowledgeof God, Cusanuspro- foritis themostpleasing ofall.Ourmindsare
claimed the significanceof indirectevidence in a cheeredbeyondmeasureby the sightof paintings,
neoplatonic sense. He pointed out that in the depicting thedelightful countryside,harbours,fishing,
infinitelylarge circlethe circumference and tangent hunting, swimming, thegamesof shepherds-flowers
coincidein a straightline while the infinitely small andverdure.36
circlewas a point.This is the foundationof a con-
tinuousgeometryrelatingall Euclid'sseparateprop- The referenceis to the genres of paintingwhich
ositionsand giving formsa qualitativeas well as replicatethose of poetry:fromthe most elevated,
quantitativecharacter.33 Equally,it gave supportto storia (epic or historic events), to portraiture
Cusanus'argumentfora patternrunningthroughall and domesticscenes,and finallythe least serious,

landscapes and rural scenes. Geographically,the importanceof perspectiveis in no doubt: 'for

centre of the city, where public buildings and Leonardo, as for Alberti,painting is a science
monuments adornthemainpiazza,is thesettingfor because of its foundationon mathematicalperspec-
greatmenand shouldrecordtheirepic deeds. In the tive and on thestudyof nature'.42Leonardohimself
urbanpalaces and privatehouses of the patriciate wrotethat
appear portraitsand familygroups while in the
countryside, faraway fromand subordinateto the Amongall thestudiesof naturalcausesand reasons
powerat theheartof thecity,thepeasants-'beasts lightchieflydelightsthe beholder-andamongthe
of the villa' -disport themselvesin their rude greatfeaturesofmathematics ofitsdem-
manner,while gentlemenrelax,followappropriate is whatpre-eminently
onstrations tendsto elevatethe
mindoftheinvestigator. musttherefore
Perspective be
leisurelypursuitsand enjoy thebeautyof nature.37
In the theatre,whose auditoriumdesign, spatial to all thediscourses
preferred and systemsof human
arrangementsand stage sets were exercises in
applied geometryand perspectiveconstruction--
even cosmological theory38--thishierarchywas Geometryis the source of the painter'screative
power, perspectiveits technicalexpression.For
carefullyarticulatedfor the threeformsof drama. Leonardo,perspective'transforms the mindof the
Tragedywas playedagainstsettingsoftheidealcity
and its monumentalarchitecture, romancein the painterintothelikenessof thedivinemind,forwith
a freehandhe can producedifferent beings,animals,
palaceinterioror closedgarden,and comedyor farce
in the sylvansettingof a rurallandscape.Control plants,fruits,landscapes,open fields,abysses and
and power radiatedown a socio-spatialhierarchy
taintyof our reproductionsof naturein art and
along the orthogonallines reachingout fromthe underlies the power and authority,the divine
piazza of an ideal city to transectrecognizably of theartist.
distinctlandscapetypes. creativity
Leonardo,despitethese commentsand his map-
pingexperiments, is not remembered as a landscape
LANDSCAPE, PERSPECTIVE AND REALIST painter,although his geographical contributions
SPACE wereby no meansmeagre.45More interesting from
this point of view is the work of the Venetian
It is knownthatthefirstartistreferences to specific
Christoforo Sortein thelaterRenaissance.Sortewas
paintingsas 'landscape'(paesaggio)come fromearly a cartographerand surveyor,employed by the
sixteenth-century Italy. One of the most often Venetian republicas one of the 'periti' or land
quoted is that from 1521 referring
to Giorgione's
BothKennethClarkand J.B. Jackson, in surveyorsand valuersof the Provveditorisopra i
Tempesta.39 beni inculti,thereclamation officewhichsupervised
discussionsof landscapein thisperiod,sense a rela-
marshlanddrainageand drylandirrigationin the
tionshipbetween the new genre and notions of secondhalfofthesixteenth century.He was a skilled
authorityand control.Noting the appearance of whose are
cartographer maps regardedas being
'realist'landscapein upper Italy and Flanders,the
second mercantilecore of early modern Europe, amongthefinestrecordsoftheVenetianstateat this
time(Fig 5).46 Sorte was also a landscapepainter
Clark claims thatit reflected'some change in the
who has leftus a remarkable treatiseon his art47 in
action of the humanmindwhichdemandeda new
theformofa replyto a letterfroma Veronesenoble,
nexus of unity,enclosed space,' and suggeststhat
BartolomeoVitali,requestinginformation on how
this was conditionedby a new, scientific way of Sortehad succeededin reproducing
thinking about the worldand an 'increasedcontrol
of natureby man'.40Jacksonrefersto a widespread the varietyof the
the truegreenof the pastures,
beliefthatthe relationship betweena social group therangeofgreenplants,thedensityof the
and its landscapecould be so expertlycontrolledas forests, of
of water...thedistances
to make appropriate a comparison between perspectives.48
environmental bonds and familybonds,41 thereby
allowing landscape to become a means of moral The work that Vitali refersto is sadly unknown.
commentary. Perspectivewas the centraltechnique But fromtextual evidence it is clearly part-map
whichallowedthiscontrolto be achievedin thenew drawing:a chorography
part-landscape in plan and
paintingsof landscape.In Leonardo'swritingsthe perspectiveof the province of Verona, carefully

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FIGURE 5. Christoforo
colouredand considereda workof art.Sorte,in his dimensions, butratherexhilaratedby thepotencyof
reply,modestlyrefersto himselfas merelya practi- extensionin depth,a controlled, axial entryintothe
cal man (un puroprattico)ratherthana philosopher pictureplane achieved by linearperspective.This
or an artist.He is a chorographer. But his chorogra- is the achievementot all the great landscapists,
phy is securelybased in science.From Ptolemy's of Bruegel's and Titian's cosmic panoramas,of
Cosmographia he has learnedhow to organizehis Giovanni Bellini's carefullylocated figuresand
mapaccordingto thefourcardinalpoints,and he has modulatedbands of light and shade, of Claude's
'locatedthesaid chorography withits truerelations stage-likewings, coulisses and recessionalplanes
and distanceson themap'.49Once thesegeometrical along theaxis,and ofJ.M. W. Turner-himself Pro-
essentialsare completedhe can discussthecolouring fessorof Perspectiveat the Royal Academy-who
of the map. Colours are used partlyto avoid too once claimedthat'withouttheaid ofperspective, all
manywords,partlyto producea representation of arttotterson itsveryfoundations'.52
reality.Thus different shades of greenallows us to Perspectivethenis criticalto landscapepainting,
recognize fertile
and infertile lands and forests.
The and itis significant,
ifbeyondthescope of thispaper
carefuland observantuse of colour helps us to to explore in detail,how close are the historical
'createtheimageof a landscape(paese)on canvas in parallelsbetweenthegreatadvancesin perspective
gouache and accordingto perspective'.Indeed the geometryand innovationsin landscapeart.Alberti
textends witha discourseon perspective, of which wrotehis treatiseat the timeof Van Eyckand the
Sorte describes two methods, one theoretical earliestItalianlandscapists;Pelerin,who refinedthe
foundedin distanceand angle measurement and a distancepoint construction in 1505 was the con-
second,morepractical, forwhichhe employsa mir- temporary ofLeonardoand Giorgione;Vignolawho
rormarkedwitha graticule.ForSorteperspectiveis showed in 1535 thatPelerinand Alberti'sconstruc-
'the foundationof painting'withoutwhichnothing tionproducedthesame geometrical resultswroteat
can be paintedof any value.And thisskillof paint- the timeof Titian'sand Bruegel'smaturity and was
ing is itselffundamental to the work ofthe chorogra- published in theproductiveyears of Paolo Veronese
pher:'niunapotra esser corografo,che non sappia and JacopoBassano. The great advances of Pascal
disegnareo dipingere'.50 and Desarguesin the 1630s in establishing thecon-
The relationshipbetween perspectiveand land- vergenceofparallellinesand showingtheirapparent
scape could scarcelybe more clear than in Sorte's visualconvergenceto be a necessaryconsequenceof
textwherethe practicalsurveyorand topographer point,lineand surfacedefinitions devoid ofEuclidian
offersone of theearliesttreatiseson theartofpaint- metrical assumptions,coincide with the Dutch
ing landscape. The early twentieth-century art supremacyin optics and its great school of land-
historian BernardBerensonagreedwithSorte.'Space scape. Geometricalcontinuityand new transform-
composition'he wrote,is the 'bone and marrowof ational rules between geometrical forms are
theartof landscape'.Referring to theearlyUmbrian propoundedin a treatiseby Ponceletwrittenat the
landscapists PietroPerugino and Raphael,Berenson same timethatConstableand Turnerwereexploring
claimedtheirtriumph lay less in thesubtlemodelling light and atmospherein landscape in ways that
of atmosphereand elaborate study of light and implicitlychallengedthe dominanceof linearper-
shade such as we findin the Venetiansthanin the spectiveforspace composition.Finallyvon Staudin
techniqueof space composition.AlthoughBerenson the 1840s eliminated metricalideas fromperspective
speaksofthisabilityto composespaceas 'a structure geometry, revealing the possibility of a
of feeling'ratherthana specifictechniquebased on non-Euclidianspace and n-dimensionalconstruc-
sophisticated geometrical theory,he is wellawareof tions.His workwas completedby F. Kleinin 1875 a
thatsense of powerand controlover space thatthe littlebeforemodernists eliminatedperspectivefrom
spectatorderivesfromthe perspectiveorganization space compositionand at the same timeas the first
oflandscapepainting: patentswere taken out for modernphotographic
in suchpictures,howfreely one breathes-asifa load printing techniques.53
hadjustbeenliftedfromone'sbreast, how refreshed,
hownoble,howpotentonefeels.51 LANDSCAPE, PROSPECT AND VISUAL
No longeris thespectatordelightedonlyby surface While it is not suggestedthat perspectivestands
patternand the arrangement of formsacross two alone as thebasis forrealismand landscapepainting
Evolution ofthelandscape
idea 55
-the demandforii veroin Renaissanceart was a The Italianword forperspectiveis prospettiva. It
complex social and cultural is
product54-it argued combines senses which in modem English are dis-
that the realistillusionof space which was revol- tinct:'perspective'and 'prospect'.Perspectiveitself
utionizedmoreby perspectivethanany othertech- has a numberofmeaningsin English,butas thepro-
nique was, throughperspective,aligned to the jectionofa spatialimageonto a planeitfirst appears
physicalappropriation of space as property, or ter- in the laterdecades of the sixteenthcentury.This
ritory. Surveyors' charts which located and usage is foundforexamplein JohnDee's Prefaceto
measuredindividualestates,forexamplein England thefirstEnglishtranslation of Euclid(1570). Dee, the
afterthe dissolutionof monasteries;cartographers' Elizabethanmathematician, navigationalinstrument
maps whichused the graticuleto apportionglobal makerand magician,linksthisuse of perspectiveto
space, for example the line defined by Pope paintingin a classicallyrenaissanceway:
Alexander VI dividing the new world between
Portugaland Spain; engineers'plans forfortresses greatskillof Geometrie, Arithmetik, Perspectiveand
and cannon trajectoriesto conquer or defend Anthropographie withmanyotherparticular artshath
nationalterritory, as forexampleVauban's French the Zographerneed of for his perfection... This
work or Sorte's for the Venetiandefencesagainst mechanical Zographer (commonly calledthePainter)is
marvelous in his skil,and seemeth to have a divine
Austria;all of theseare examplesof the application
of geometryto the productionof real property.55 power.

They presuppose a differentconcept of space

ownershipthanthe contingentconceptof a feudal Dee is writingat theopeningofa decade whichwill
societywhereland is lockedintoa web of interde- see Saxton'scountymapspublishedand whena new
pendentlordshipsbased on fiefand fealty.The new 'image of the country'was being producedas an
chorographieswhich decorated the walls of six- aspect of Elizabethanpatriotism,using maps and
teenth-century councilhallsand signorialpalaces,56 landscape representations as instruments of Tudor
and the new taste for accuraterenderingsof the powerand nationalist ideology.59
externalworld whichgraduallymoved fromback- By 1605 we can findreference to perspectiveas a
ground to main subjectmatter,were both organized formof a
insight, point of view, as in thephrase'get-
by perspectivegeometryand achieve aesthetically tingsomethinginto perspective',or seeing it in its
what maps, surveysand ordnancechartsachieve truelight,its correctrelationship withotherthings.
Landscapeis thusa way ofseeing,a com- Many of the earlyreferences
practically. quoted in the Oxford
positionand structuring of theworldso thatit may EnglishDictionaryto supportthe definition of per-
be appropriatedby a detached,individualspectator spectiveas a drawingcontrivedto representtrue
to whom an illusionof orderand controlis offered space and distancerelationsreferto landscapeand
throughthe compositionof space accordingto the gardenlayout.60The visualideologyof perspective
certainties of geometry. That illusion very and of landscapeas ways of seeingnature,indeeda
frequentlycomplementeda very real power and trueway of seeing,is certainly current in theEnglish
controlover fieldsand farmson the partof patrons Renaissance.When we turnto thewordprospect we
and ownersoflandscapepaintings."5Landscapedis- finditused to denotea view outward,a lookingfor-
tancesus fromtheworldin criticalways,defininga wardin timeas well as space. By theend of the six-
particularrelationshipwith natureand those who teenthcenturyprospect carriedthe sense of 'an
appearin nature,and offersus theillusionofa world extensiveor commanding sightor view, a view of
in whichwe may participatesubjectivelyby enter- the landscapeas affectedby one's position'.61This
ing thepictureframealong theperspectival axis.But neatlyreflectsa period when commandover land
thisis an aestheticentrancenot an active engage- was being establishedon new commercially-run
mentwitha natureor space thathas its own life. estatesby Tudor enclosersand thenew landowners
Implicitin the landscape idea is a visual ideology of measured monasticproperties.That command
whichwas extendedfrompaintingto our relation- was establishedwith the help of the surveyors'
shipwiththerealworldwhose 'frameand compass' 'maliciouscraft',the geometrywhich wrote new
Elizabethansso admiredand whichGeorgianEnglish perspectives acrossreallandscapes.62
gentlemenwould onlyapproachthroughthelangu- By the mid-seventeenth century'prospect'had
age oflandscapepaintingor theopticaldistortion of become a substitutefor landscape. The command
theirClaude Glass. thatit impliedwas as much social and politicalas

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KR . : _-_
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:::-:::: :?'
ci:~:::-1:::-::::-lii - :::11..?::-:::
~~-~'-~: ..... .
Or--::::::::::- \i~iili:~~i~ :::::-::::-::----
i~l :_: :::::~?~?~lllii~ii~:':::::-
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:-:-::~-:~~i:~: i-i~-!~
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FIGURE 6. Roushamgarden,Oxfordshire.The BowlingGreen:a Claudianlandscapeby WilliamKent

spatial. Commanding views are the theme of ing a fineview. The prospectof theeye was equally
countryhouse painting,poetry and landscaping commercial, suchwoodland in thelandscapewas an
throughoutthe seventeenthand eighteenthcen- economicinvestment. It represented
turies(Fig 6), and a numberof recentstudieshave wood, as thosewho scouredthelandscapein thefol-
revealed the degree to which landscape was a lowingcenturyseekinggold would be described.64
vehicle for social and moral debate during this
period.63The prospectsdesignedformen like the LANDSCAPE AND THE HUMANIST
Duke of Marlboroughat Blenheimwho had made
theirfortunesfromwar had an appropriately TRADITION IN GEOGRAPHY
tarycharacter in theirblocksofwoodlandsetagainst Landscapecomes into Englishlanguagegeography
shavenlawns.Thisno doubtreinforced theimageof primarilyfromthe German landschaft. Much has
powerand authority, at leastforthosewho wielded been writtenabout the factthatthe Germanword
it. The surveyskillswhich calculatedand laid out means area, withoutany particularly aestheticor
these landscapesproducedfortification plans, ord- artistic,or even visual connotations.65My own
nance chartsand campaignmaps as well as serving knowledgeof Germanusage is too meagreto con-
therequirements of theparliamentaryenclosers.It is test thisclaim,but some commentis warranted.In
not surprising thatin hiscritiqueofemparkment and Humboldt'sKosmos,regardedby many as one of
landscapingOliver Goldsmithin The DesertedVil- the two pillarsupon whichGermangeographywas
lage should describe the park that has replaced erected,a whole sectionis devotedto thehistoryof
Sweet Auburn in militarymetaphors:'its vistas the love of landscapeand natureup to the timeof
strike,its palaces surprise'.In those great English Goethe whom Humboldtgreatlyreveredand who
landscape parks prospectalso signifiedthe future. was a major visual theorist.66Englishgeographers
Control was as much temporalas spatial. Their could have takentheirlandscapeconceptfromJohn
clumpsof oak and beech would not be seen in full Ruskinand discovereda usage not very different
maturityby those who had them planted, but fromHumboldt's.67More directly, Landschaftin the
securityof propertyensuredforlaterscions of the workof Hettnerand Passarge,themainsourcesfor
familytreetheprospecton inheritance of command- Englishlanguage geographerslike Carl Sauer and
Evolutionofthelandscapeidea 57
R. E. Dickinson of the landscape concept, was pling,survey or detailed
inventory, he achievesthe
confinedto the study of visibleforms,it was the comprehensive butsynthetic ofthehelicop-
eye whichdeterminedtheirselectionand inclusion. terpilotor balloonistarmedwithmaps,photographs
Moreover, Landschaft, as Sauer's classic paper- anda pairofbinoculars.

'Morphologyof Landscape'-makes clear,68was to

be studiedby thechorologicalmethodand itsresults The distinctionseems spurious,it is drawn at the
transmitted descriptively in prose and above all by level of techniqueratherthanaims and objectives.
the map. Given what we know of the traditional Given what we know of Leonardo'sdetailednotes
linksbetweencartography, chorographyand land- on how lightfallsupon different rockformations,or
scape paintingit is difficult to accept the argument of Constable'sinventoriesof cloud formations and
thatLandschaft sustainedin Germangeographythe atmosphericconditions,of Turner'sstrappinghim-
entirely neutral sense of area or regionas its English selfto a ship'smastthebetterto observethemove-
and American devotees of the inter-warperiod ment of the storm,or of Ruskin'sinstructions to
claimed.Certainlythereis a threadof interestin painters to rival the geologist, botanist and
German geography for GestaltendeGeografie, meteorologistin theirknowledgeof topography,
study of aestheticholism in landscape,that runs geology, vegetationand skies,it is likelythathad
fromHumboldtthroughEwald Banse to Gerhart theyhad access to the batteryof techniqueswith
Hard.69 which Mikesell would arm his geographerthey
Anglo-Saxongeographersintroducing landscape would all have made good use of them.Certainly
as an areal conceptwere not unawareof the prob- Christoforo Sortewouldhave revelledin theiruse to
lemscausedby itscommonusage as a painters'term. improvehis'chorographic art',and bothBruegeland
But in the interestsof a scientific geographythey Titianproducedlandscapesthathave a perspective
were keen to distancetheirconcept of landscape farabove thegroundand are as comprehensive and
fromthatof paintersor literarywriters;poets and syntheticas Mikesellcould wish for.Above all the
novelists.Thus the linksbetween landscape,per- geometrywhichunderlayperspective, theconstruc-
spectiveand the controlof space as property-the tional of
principle landscapes, and which gave cer-
visualideology commonto landscapepaintingand taintyto theirrealism,is the same geometrywhich
cartography-have gone unrecordedand unex- determinesthe graticuleof Mikesell's maps and
ploredby geographers.This is particularly surpris- delimitstheboundariesor locatestheelementsofhis
ing today when we are far clearer about the role that geographicallandscapes.
geography has played in the evolution of the Beyondthe issue of specifictechniquesthereare
bourgeois concept of individual and national also methodologicalsimilarities betweenlandscape
space.70Landscaperemainspartof our unexamined inpaintingand ingeography,similarities whichhave
discourse, to be embraced by humanist geographers allowed to
geographers adopt unconsciouslysome-
as a conceptwhichappearsto fulfil theirdesirefora thingofthevisualideologyintegralto thelandscape
contextualand anti-positivist geography.Whereas idea. Likeotherarea conceptsin geography,region
in thepastlandscapegeographersactivelydistanced or pays, landscape has been closely associated in
theirconcept fromthat of common usage, today geographywiththemorphological method.73Mor-
writerslike Samuels,Meinig,WrefordWatson and phology is the study of constituentforms,their
Pococktaketheoppositeposition.7'In bothperiods isolation,analysis and recompositioninto a syn-
of its popularityin geographylandscapeas an art- theticwhole.When appliedto thevisibleformsof a
isticconceptis given the role of potentialor actual delimitedarea of land this is termedchorology.74
challenger to geographical science. Marwyn The result of a landscape chorology is a static
Mikesell'sclaim(withitsinteresting reference to per- patternor picturewhose internalrelationsand con-
spective) is an example of this view: stituentformsare understood,but whichlackspro-
cess or change. Indeed, one of the criticismsof
theperspective of thegeographer is not thatof the
chorology in thepost-waryearswas preciselythatit
individual observer locatedat a particularpointon the failed to
ground.The geographer's workentailsmapinterpret- explain the processes giving rise to the
ationas wellas diret-6ob-ser-vation,-and
he-makes no dis- forms and spatialrelationsit described.The idea of
tinctionbetweenforeground and background. The change,or process,is very difficult to incorporate
landscape ofthegeographer is thusverydifferentfrom into landscapepainting,althoughthereare certain
thatofthepainter, poetornovelist. Bymeansofsam- conventionslike the memento morior the ruined
buildingwhichoccasionallydo so. But one of the ing implicitin much of our geographystillawaits
consistentpurposesof landscapepaintinghas been detailedexamination. At themostobviouslevel,we
to presentan imageof orderand proportioned con- warnstudentsof the pitfallsof acceptingthe auth-
trol,to suppressevidence of tensionand conflict orityof numbers,of the dangersof misusedstat-
betweensocialgroupsand withinhumanrelationsin istics,but virtuallynever those of acceptingthe
theenvironment. Thisis trueforthevillalandscapes cartographic,still less the landscape,image. Less
painted by Paolo Veronese in the strife-riddenobviously,but more significantly for geographical
Venetiancountryside of the latersixteenthcentury, scholarship, geographyand the arts,or geography
it was equallytrueforthearcadianimageof English as art,is frequently presentedas a refugefromten-
landscapeparks in the Georgianperiod of ruralcon- dentious social and politicaldebateswithinthedisci-
flictand transformation. In thissense the alignment pline,and the 'soul' of geographya resortin which
of geographicallandscapewithmorphologyserves we can express our 'passions' in the neutraland
to reproducea centraldimensionof theideologyof refinedarea of subjectivityand humanediscourse,
thelandscapeidea as itwas developedin thearts. expressingourselvesin those reverential tonesthat
Despite appearancesthesituationis littledifferent serve purely to sustainmystification. Geography
in muchof contemporary geographicaluse of land- and the arts are too importantfor this.Both bear
scape. Too often geographicalhumanistsmake the directlyupon our world,bothcan challengeas well
mistakeofassumingthatartand withinit,landscape, as supportthe ways we structure, modifyand see
are to do with the subjective,somehow standing thatworld.
againstscienceand its proclaimedobjectivecertain- In TheoreticalGeography Bunge came closerthan
ties.75The subjectivism of artis a recentand by no anyotherrecentgeographicalwriterto acknowledg-
means fullyacceptedthesis,a productabove all of ing the significance of the graphicimage in geo-
the artisticself-imagegeneratedin the Romantic graphy.His later,brilliantuse of cartographyas a
movement.Originally,as we have seen, landscape subversiveart bears testimonyto his insight.79
was composedand constructed by techniqueswhich Bunge was equally clear that geometrywas the
wvere consideredto ensurethecertainty ofreproduc- language of space, the guarantorof certaintyin
ing the real world.Equally,again as we have seen, geographical science, visually and logically. As
thereis an inherentconservatismin the landscape shown, the relationshipbetweengeometry,optics
idea, in its celebrationof propertyand of an and the studyof geographicspace is verystrongin
unchangingstatusquo, in its suppressionof tension European intellectualhistory since the Renais-
between groups in the landscape.When we take sance.80 In Bunge's thesis spatial geometrywas
over landscapeintogeography,and particularly into aligned to a powerfulclaim for geographyas a
publicpolicywe inevitablyimportin largemeasure generalizingpositivistscience,a verydifferent con-
the realist,visual values with which it has been ception of science fromthat understoodby the
loaded: itsconnectionswitha way of seeing,itsdis- foundersof modem geometryand perspective,
tancingof subjectand objectand itsconservatism in manyofwhomstillrecalledthemagicofPythagoras
presentingan image of naturaland social harmony. and regardedmetaphysics as beingas mucha branch
John Punter has the
pinpointed place of these social of science as empiricalstudy,81 and forwhom the
and visual values in contemporary discussionsof triviumand quadriviumwere equal contributors to
landscape and the conservationand planningof the seven liberalarts.In rejectingsciencetoutcourt,
areas definedas having'landscapevalue'.76A vast humanist geographers have severed links with
fieldawaits researchinto contemporary visual and spatial geometry,concentratedon the materialof
socialvaluesin landscape77 the triviumand failed,among other things,to
To return, however,to the openingpointof this developa propercritiqueoflandscape.
paper. Humanistgeographershave spent a great Such a division was not true of Renaissance
deal of timeand energychallengingthe orthodoxy humanistgeographers.JohnDee was as close to
of positivism,theyhave opened up a debateon the Orteliusand Mercatoras he was to SirPhilipSidney,
language of geography-the constraints and admiredthe magicianCorneliusAgrippa'sworkas
opportunities oflanguage.Some have evenbegunto muchas he did thatof Copernicus.Cusanus'closest
explorethe ideologicalassumptionsinherentin our friend, the executorof his will,was Pierodal Pozzo
conceptsof space itself.78 All of theseare important Toscanelli.Toscanelli,froma Florentinemerchant
matters.But theideologyof vision,theway of see- family,was a doctor, studentof optics and the
Evolution 59

foremost geographerofhis day.As a memberof the 6. See the discussionby PUNTER, J. V. (1982) 'Land-
GreekAcademy at Florence,he studiedone of its scape aesthetics:a synthesisand critique',in GOLD, J.
greatestintellectualtrophies,Ptolemy'sCosmogra- and BURGESS, J.(eds) Valuedenvironments (London)
fiabroughtfromConstantinople in theearlyyearsof pp. 100-23
thefifteenth In thisworkPtolemydescribes 7. PENNING-ROWSELL,E. C. (1974) 'Landscapeevalu-
a projectionfortheworldmap whichuses thesame ation fordevelopmentplans',J.R. Tn Plann.Inst.,60:
geometrical constructionas theFlorentinehumanists
8. APPLETON, J. (1975) The experience of landscape
employedto develop linearperspective.82 Withthe
aid of thisstudyToscanelliproduceda map which 9. POCOCK, D. C. D. (ed.) (1981) Humanistic geogra-
he sent with a letter to ChristopherColumbus phy and literature: essays in the experience of place
encouragingthe Genoese navigator'sexploration (London); DANIELS, S. J.(1981) 'Landscapingfora
west on the groundsthatthe distancefromEurope manufacturer: HumphreyRepton's commissionfor
to China was shorterthan was then commonly BenjaminGott at Armleyin 1809-10', J. hist.Geog.,
believedby cartographers. The geographicalconse- 7: 379-96; COSGROVE, D. (ed.) (1982) 'Geography
and the Humanities',Loughborough Univ. of Techn.,
quences of this collaborationof art, science and
Occ. Pap.,No. 5
practicalskillneed not be spelledout here.But the 10. This phraseis takenfromBERGER,J.(1972) Waysof
exampleof thisgeographicalcolleague of the great
humanists Albertiand Brunelleschi seeing(London), where some of the social impli-
mayremindcon- cations of visual conventions are challengingly
temporaryhumanistsin geography to pay equal explored
attentionto the Albertianrevolutionas to thatof 11. Examples are numerous. One of the earliest is
Gutenberg. FRANCESCO FELICIANO (1518) Librod'aritmetica,
e geometriaspeculativa, e practicale, more commonly
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Scala & Grimaldelli (Venice).One of themostcompre-
I would liketo thankthe followingpeople fortheir hensivewas Cosimo Bartoli(1564) Del mododi mis-
urareledistantie ... (Venice)
help in improvingupon earlierdraftsof thispaper:
Stephen Daniels, Cole Harris,Robin Butlin and 12. MEINIG, D. (1983) 'Geographyas Art' Trans.Inst.Br.
Trevor Pringle, and those who contributedat Geogr. NS. 8: 314-28; WREFORD-WATSON, J.
(1983) 'The soul of geography',Trans.Inst.Br. Geogr.
variousseminars.Some of theItalianmaterialswere NS. 8: 385-99; BILLINGE,M. (1983) 'The Mandarin
collectedduringa periodof studyin Italyfundedby dialect', Trans. Inst. Br. Geogr. NS. 8: 400-20.
a grantfromtheBritish Academy. POCOCK, D. C. D. (1983) 'The paradox of human-
isticgeography',Area,15: 355-58
NOTES 13. As always,thereare exceptions,althoughto mymind
1. GEIPEL,R. (1978) 'The landscapeindicatorsschool in none have examined the visual in relation to
Germangeography',in LEY, D. and SAMUELS, M. geographical study as such: POCOCK, D. C. D.
(eds) Humanisticgeography:prospectsand problems (1981) 'Sight and Knowledge', Trans.Inst.Br. Geogr.
(London)pp. 155-72 NS. 6: 385-93; TUAN, YI-FU (1979) 'The eye and the
2. See for example the comments on landscape in mind's eye', in MEINIG, The interpretation of ordin-
HARVEY, D. (1969) Explanation in geography arylandscapes (NOTE 3) pp. 89-102
(London)pp. 114-15 14. BUNGE, W. (1966) Theoretical geography(2nd ed.
3. SAMUELS, M. (1979) 'The biographyof landscape', Lund),p. xiv
in MEINIG, D. (ed.) The interpretation of ordinary 15. YATES, F. A. (1964) Giordano Bruno and the
landscapes (Oxford)pp. 51-88 HermeticTradition (London) pp. 160-1 discussesthe
4. ROSE, C. (1981) 'WilliamDilthey'sphilosophyof his- relationsof quadriviumand triviumin Renaissance
toricalunderstanding: a neglected heritageof con- humanism, arguingthat'the two traditionsappeal to
temporaryhumanisticgeography',in STODDARD, entirelydifferent interests.The humanist'sbent is in
D. R. (ed.) Geography,ideologyand social concern the directionof literatureand history;he sets an
(Oxford)pp. 99-133 immensevalue on rhetoricand good literarystyle.
5. RELPH, E. (1981) Rationallandscapesand humanistic The bentof theothertradition is towardsphilosophy,
geography (London) p. 22. This sense of landscape as theology, and also science (at the stage of magic)'.
an all inclusive,quotidianphenomenonowes a great This argumentdependson a veryrestricted definition
deal in NorthAmericangeographyto theworkofJ.B. of humanism(see herfn.3, p. 160), ignoresthe visual
Jackson.See forexamplethemostrecentcollectionof arts which combined literaryreference(ut pictura
Jackson'slandscape essays (1980), 'The necessity for poesis) with 'scientific'skill,and failsto account for
ruinsandothertopics'(Amherst) the large numberof Renaissancescholarsequally at
home in philosophyand science as they were con- agrimensura italianadai tempiantichial secoloXVIPI
cernedwithgrammar, rhetoricand classicaltexts,for (Torino)
exampleGiangiorgioTrissinoand Daniele Barbaroin 30. SCHULZ, J. (1978) 'Jacopo de 'Barbari'sview of
sixteenth-century Venice Venice: map making, city views, and moralized
16. EISENSTEIN, E. L. (1979) The printing pressas an geographybeforethe year 1500', TheArt Bull.,LX:
agentofchange(Cambridge) 425-74; MAZZI, G. (1980) 'La repubblicae uno
17. MARTINES, L. (1980) Power and imagination: strumentoper il dominio',in PUPPI, L. (ed.) Architet-
City-StatesinRenaissanceItaly(London) tura e utopia nella Veneziadel cinquecento (Milano)
18. ALBERTI, L. B. (1966) On painting(trans. J. R. pp. 59-62. It has been pointed out that,like con-
Spencer,London) temporary ideal townscapes,the Barbarimap lacksall
19. Ibidpp. 47, 48 humanpresence
20. Even photographywas constricted by conventionsof 31. Renaissancewritersnever tire of emphasizingthat
perspectiverealism,landscape paintinghaving far geometryprovides Pacioli, Summadi
moreinfluence on earlyphotographythanvice-versa. arithmetica ... (note27) p. 2r 'e in la sua Metaphysica
See GALASSI, P. (1981) Beforephotography: painting afferma(Euclid)le scientiemathematiche, essere nel
and theinvention ofphotography (New York) primogrado de certezza'
21. Ibid.pp. 16-17 32. McLEAN, A. (1972) Humanismand theriseofscience
22. For a detaileddiscussionof Brunelleschi's experiment in TudorEngland(London) pp. 112 ff.For a fulldis-
see EDGERTON, S. J. Jr.(1975) The Renaissance cussion of Cusanus' work and its impacton Renais-
rediscoveryoflinearperspective(London)pp. 143-52 sance thought see CASSIRER, E. (1964) The
23. REES, R. (1980) 'Historicallinksbetweengeography individualand the cosmosin Renaissancephilosophy
and art',Geogr.Rev.70: 66 (New York)
24. This groupofpaintings, producedbeforethecentrally 33. IVINS, W. M. Jr(1946) Art and geometry, a studyof
planned church became architecturallypopular, spaceintuitions (New York)pp. 79-80
includes Raphael's Spozalizioand Carpaccio's Recep- 34. There is no space here to explore the fascinating
tion of the EnglishAmbassadorsin the St Ursula implications of Renaissance magic theories for
cycle.The sacredsignificance of the circleand centre attitudesto natureand naturalbeauty.These theories
is an enormoustopicwithcross-cultural implications. are of course fully discussed in Yates, Giordano
See TUAN, YI-FU (1974) Topophilia:a study of Bruno... (note 15)
environmentalperception attitudes and beliefs 36. There is no escaping the use of 'man' here.We are
(London) dealingwitha specifically 'male' view oftheworld
25. The distinction betweenmind,or intellect,and sense 36. ALBERTI, L. B. (1965) Ten books on architecture
was centralto muchRenaissancethought,and is dis- (trans.ofJ.Leoni,1755; facs.copy,London)p. 194
cussed in Yates, GiordanoBruno(note 15) p. 193. 37. SARTORI, P. L. (1981) 'Gli scrittori Venetid'agraria
Geometryis of coursean intellectualactivity.Nicolo del cinquecentoe del primo seicento.Tra realta e
Tartagliacalls it 'the pure food of intellectuallife'(il utopia' in Tagliaferri, E. (ed.) Veneziae la terraferma
puro cibo della vita intellettuale)EuclideMagarense, attraversole relazione dei rettori (Milano) pp.
philosopho (Venezia, 1543) p. FII, in the firsttrans- 261-310. See particularlythe last three 'days' of
lationof EuclidintoItalian.None the less,one of the GALLO, A. (1565) Le diecigiornatedella vera agri-
reasonswhy humanistslikeAlbertiacceptedthe sig- culturae piaceredellavilla(Vinegia)
nificanceof numbersand proportionswas that the 38. ZORZI, L. (1977) Il teatroe la citta.Saggiasulla scena
same proportionswhich pleased the intellectalso italiana(Torino). On the linksbetween theatreand
seemed to please our eyes and ears. This is a corner- cosmologicaltheoriessee YATES, F. A. (1966) Theart
stoneofRenaissanceaesthetics ofmemory (London)
26. BAXANDALL, M. (1972) Paintingand experience in 39. GOMBRICH, E. (1971) 'The renaissancetheoryof art
fifteenth-century and the rise of landscape',in Gombrich,E. Normand
27. FRA LUCA PACIOLI (1494) Summadi arithmetica, Form:studiesin the art of the renaissance (London)
geometria,proportioneet proportionalitta (Venice). 109
See the referenceto the significance of thiswork in 40. CLARK, K. (1956) Landscapeinto art (Harmond-
BRAUDEL, F. (1982) Civilizationand capitalism, sworth)
15th-18thCentury.Vol. II: The Wheelsof Commerce 41. Significantly, thetitleof theessay by JACKSON,J.B.
(London)p. 573 (1979) 'Landscapeas theatre'in Landscape, 23: 3; and
28. SILVIO BELLI (1565) Libro del misurarcon la reprintedin JACKSON, The necessity forruins(note
vista... (Venezia)preface,pp. 1-2 ('certamente cosi 5)
meravigliosail misurarcon la vista,poi che ogni uno, 42. BLUNT, A. (1962) Artistictheoryin Italy 1450-1600
che non sa la ragionepar del tuttoimpossible') (Oxford)p. 26 Italicsadded
29. ROSSI, F. (1877) Gromae squadra,ovverostoriadell' 43. Quoted in Ibid.p. 50
Evolution 61
44. Leonardowas a masternot merelyof linearperspec- 1500-1600', in Ferro,G. (ed.) Symposium on histori-
tive but also of that otherand distinctformof per- cal changesin spatial organisation and its experience
spective,aerialperspective, whichplaysa complemen- in the Mediterranean world (Genova) pp. 133-56;
taryrole in creatingthe illusionof space throughthe DANIELS, D. J. (1982) 'HumphreyRepton and the
manipulationof tone, light and shade and colour moralityof landscape',in GOLD, J.and BURGESS, J.
intensity.While based on optical theoryand exper- (eds) Valuedenvironments (note6) pp. 124-44
iment,aerialperspectiveis not geometrically founded. 58. Quoted in McLEAN, Humanismand the rise of
Leonardo'sworkwithcolourand chiaroscuroallowed science... (note 32) p. 138. The translationof Euclid
him to convey the 'mood' of space, and he saw the was by Billingsley.For Dee's importanceforgeogra-
superiorityof paintingover other arts to lie in its phy and cartographysee TAYLOR, E. G. R. (1954)
abilityto employaerialperspective The mathematical of Tudor and Stuart
45. ALEXANDER, D. 'Leonardo da Vinci and fluvial England(London) pp. 26-48. For Dee and magic see
geomorphology', Am.i. Sci.282: 735-55 YATES, GirodanoBruno(note 15) pp. 148-50
46. SCHULZ, J.(1976) 'New maps and landscape draw- 59. MORGAN, V. (1979) 'The cartographic image of the
ings by ChristoforoSorte', Mitteilungen der Kuns- countryin earlymodem England',Trans.R. Hist.Soc.
thistorischen Institutesin FlorenzXX: I; MAZZI, G. 29:129-54
(1980), 'La Repubblicae uno strumento peril dominio' 60. The whole issue of gardendesign along circularand
in PUPPI, L. (ed.) Architettura e Utopa nella Venezia orthogonallines is too large to discuss here but is
del Cinquecento (Milano)pp. 59-62 obviouslyverycloselyrelatedto thegeometryunder
47. SORTE, C. (1580) 'Osservazioni nella pittura', discussion,to spatialtheoryand thoseof microcosm,
reprintedin BARROCCHI, P. (ed.) (1960) Trattati macrocosmand medicinalconcepts. The firstsuch
d'arte del cinquecento: fra manierismo e controriformo garden was designed in Padua in the late sixteenth
Vol. 1 (Bari) pp. 275-301. This text meritsdetailed centuryby Daniele Barbaro,translaterof Vitruvius
geographicalstudy,not only as a discussionof land- and commentatoron Euclid.See JACKSON, J. B.
scape and cartographybut equally because Sorte (1980) 'NearerthanEden' and 'Gardensto Decipher'
appearsto anticipateby a centurythe recognitionby in The necessity for ruins (note 5) pp. 19-35 and
JohnRayoftherealmovementofthehydrologicalcycle 37-53
48. LetterfromVitali to Sorte, reprintedin Barrocchi, 61. OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY (OED), italics
Trattatid'art... (note47) p. 275 added
49. SORTE, 'Osservazioninella pittura'(note 47) p. 282: 62. THOMPSON, F. M. L. (1968) Chartered surveyors:
'Inoltreho posta detta Corografiacon le sue giuste thegrowthof a profession (London); HARVEY, P. D.
misuree distanzein pianta'.In otherwords,the work A. (1980) The historyof topographic maps: symbols,
was based on a planisphericsurvey.On the relations pictures and surveys(London). The idea that survey-
between such surveyand perspectivesee Edgerton. ing was a maliciousand magicalart was foundedin
TheRenaissance (note22)
rediscovery parton thenegativeconsequencesfortraditional land
50. SORTE, 'Osservazioninellapittura'(note47) p. 283 rightsof new conceptsof privatepropertyenshrined
51. BERENSON, B. (1952) Italianpaintersof theRenais- in the legal documentthatthe surveyorproduced,in
sance'(London)p. 12 part on the recognitionof connectionsbetween the
52. Quoted in WILTON, A. (1980) Turnerand the geometryof surveytechniquesand thatof hermetic
sublime(London)p. 70 magicians.In the book burningsunder Edward VI
53. IVINS, Art and geometry(note 33) pp. 105-10; books containinggeometricalfigureswere particu-
GALASSI, Before Photography (note20) larlyat risk
54. MARTINES, Powerand imagination (note 17); BAX- 63. TURNER, J. (1979) The politicsof landscape:rural
ANDALL, Painting andexperience (note26) sceneryand society in English poetry 1630-1690
55. A pointthathas not gone entirelyunnoticedby his- (Oxford); ADAMS, J. (1979) The artist and the
toricalgeographers.See forexampleIan Adams' work countryhouse.A historyof countryhouseand garden
on the role of land surveyorsin eighteenth-century view painting in Britain 1540-1870 (London);
Scottishagrarianchange.ADAMS, I. H. (1980) 'The BARRELL, J. (1980) The dark side of the landscape:
agents of agrarianchange', in PARRY, M. L. and the ruralpoor in Englishpainting1631-1741 (Cam-
SLATER, T. R. (eds) The makingof the Scottish bridge); ROSENTHAL, M. (1982) Britishlandscape
countryside(London)pp. 155-75, esp. pp. 167-70 painting (London)
56. For example the great galleryof maps painted by 64. The OED notesthattheverb'to prospect'emergedin
Ignazio Dante in theVatican(1580-83) or the similar the nineteenthcenturyreferring to the particularly
commissionsto Christoforo Sorteto paintwallsin the capitalistactivitiesof speculativegold miningand
Ducal Palace at Venice(1578 and 1586) playingthe stock exchange.It is interesting to note
57. COSGROVE, D. (1982) 'Agrarianchange,villabuild- how 'speculation' has itself roots in visual
ing and landscape: the Godi estates in Vicenza terminology
65. MIKESELL, M. (1968) 'Landscape', in International 71. Notes 3 and 12
encyclopaedia of the social sciences(New York) p. 72. MIKESELL,'Landscape'(note64) p. 578
577-79. DICKINSON, R. E. (1939) 'Landscape and 73. Explicitlyso by SAUER, 'Morphologyof Landscape'
Society', Scott. geogr. Mag. 55: 1-15; HART- (note 67), and equally in physicalgeographywhere
SHORNE, R. (1939) The natureofgeography. A sur- landscapein the titlesuggestsa morphologicalstudy
veyof current thought in thelightof thepast (Lancas- oflandforms
ter,Pa.) 74. VAN PAASEN, C. (1957) The classicaltraditionof
66. HUMBOLDT, A. VON (1849-52) Cosmos:a sketch geography (Groningen)
of a physicaldescription of the Universe(London), 75. See for example the diagram which serves as the
Vol. II. The relationshipbetween the landscapeidea foundationfor the discussionof spatial conceptsin
and attitudesto naturein the nineteenthcenturyis SACK, R. D. (1980) Conceptions of space in social
of course enormouslycomplex. On Goethe and thought:a geographicalperspective (Minneapolis) p.
geography see SEAMON, D. (1978) 'Goethe's 25
approach to the natural world: implicationsfor 76. PUNTER, J.'Landscapeaesthetics...' (note6)
environmentaltheory and education',in LEY and 77. Some of the essays in GOLD, and BURGESS, Valued
SAMUELS, Humanistic Geography(note 1) pp. environments (note 6) begin to broach this field,as
238-50 have papers presented in recent IBG sessions of
67. COSGROVE, D. (1979) 'John Ruskin and the 'Geographyand theMedia'
geographicalimagination'Geog.Rev.69: 43-62 78. SACK, Conceptions ofSpace... (note 74)
68. SAUER, C. 0. (1926) 'The morphologyof landscape', 79. BUNGE, W. (1973) 'The geography of human
reprintedin LEIGHLY, J. (ed.) (1963) Land and life: survival',Ann.Ass.Am. Geogr.63: 275-95
selectionsfrom the writingsof Carl Ortwin Sauer 80. This is distinctfromthe relationsof Greekgeometry
(Berkeleyand Los Angeles) which apparently were derived from a tactile-
69. BANSE, E. (1924) Die Seele der Geographie muscularapprehensionof space, an apprehension
(Brunswick); HARD, G. (1965) 'Arkadienin Deutch- whichwas non-visual.IVINS, Artand geometry(note
land',Die Erde,96: 31-4 33)
70. HARVEY, D. (1974) 'What kind of geographyfor 81. YATES, GiordanoBruno(note 15) pp. 144-56
what kind of public policy', Trans.Inst.Br. Geogr.; 82. EDGERTON, The Renaissancerediscovery... (note
HARVEY, D. (1984) 'On thehistoryand presentcon- 22)
dition of geography: an historical materialist
manifesto',Prof.Geogr.35: 1-10

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