Walter S. Gibson is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities Emeritus at Case Western Reserve University. His published works include Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Two Studies (1993) and Mirror of the Earth: The World Landscape in Flemish Painting of the Sixteenth Century (1989). He lives in Vermont.
Claes Jansz Visscher's etchings of pleasant places of about 1611-12 were produced by an Amsterdam printmaker to commemorate the countryside around the nearby city of Haarlem. Read the first page
This is a fascinating account of the early days of the development of landscape art in 17th century Holland. The book primarily focuses on prints as this was the market that opened up the potential possibilities for the painters. The author provides plenty of background and context for meaning and interpretation of landscape, both at the time and within today's art historical writing.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Pleasant Book22 Jan 2001
Gary D. Rosenberg
- Published on Amazon.com
Walter Gibson's "Pleasant Places" will help you enjoy the quiet and unassuming genre of 17th Century northern European landscape art. The author accepts the works at face value: pleasant images of places the Dutch in particular liked to visit. Gibson does not read religious allegory into them as some art historians do, but he instead shows you how to appreciate the quality of light, the sense of place, and the Dutch character that emerges from Dutch landscape art. He perhaps inadvertently offers some examples where religious interpretations may be more important than he allows, and you do not feel that he is forcing all of the works to fit his premise even though he is steadfast. The book is well-written, and I especially appreciate the author's parenthetical definition of Dutch terms and concepts as they are introduced. In addition, he gently reminds you of their meanings when they are reintroduced in subsequent chapters, so you won't have to hunt through the index and text to find them again. Some of the black-white reproductions of prints are too small, and not clear enough to enable detailed study, but this is a common problem with art history books, and this book will motivate you to visit the nearest art museum to study the genre in any case. Walter Gibson communicates a love and respect for 17th Century northern European landscape art that makes me want to visit Holland and experience it first-hand. Walter Gibson has persuaded me that I will find the Dutch countryside a pleasant place laden with history and wonderful light.