European
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Jean-Victor Bertin (French, 1767–1842),
Landscape , ca.1802
oil on canvas, 5 ¼ x 18 ¼ in.; 38.73 x 46.35 cm
Museum purchase, 1984.13

Rather than depicting actual sites, Neoclassical landscapes present an ideal vision of nature, often as the setting for idyllic pastoral scenes. Although closely studied from life, individual motifs (trees, architectural ruins, rocks, etc.) are arranged into highly ordered compositions of serene beauty. In Bertin’s Landscape, layered bands of sunlight and shadow as well as zones of wood and open areas allow the eye to survey and measure the picture space. Harmonious colors and uniform light enhance the structural clarity. 

One of the leading Neoclassical landscape painters around 1800, Bertin’s many students included J. B. C. Corot, later an important force in the naturalistic Barbizon school.

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