See how landscape painters across the centuries have pitted their brushes against the infinite variety of nature.
This display of landscape oil sketches by European masters active between about 1700 and 1900 complements the exhibition Through American Eyes: Frederic Church and the Landscape Oil Sketch in Room 1.
The works have been selected from the Gere Collection, on long-term loan to the National Gallery, as well as the Gallery’s own collection.
About landscape oil sketches
Sketching out of doors was a valuable test of skill and artists often made these quick oil sketches as training for the hand and eye. Some were then completed in the studio.
Whilst the sketches were rarely intended for public exhibition they offer tremendous freshness and beauty, and it was this quality that John and Charlotte Gere identified when they began collecting these works in the 1950s.
Certain aspects of nature were specifically sought-after as subjects. Running water, tree branches and trunks, and scudding clouds were considered as being particularly useful for learning to capture the fleeting effects of nature. Rock faces and ruins were also favoured motifs.
Detail from Carl Blechen, The Capuchin Convent at Amalfi, about 1829. The Gere Collection, on long-term loan to the National Gallery © Private collection 2000. Used by permission.