Staffage – people, animals, birds, carts and ships – make a big difference to many landscape paintings. Have you met the Wanderer too?
The figure appears in later landscapes, including one by Martín Rico, and a pastel by Millet, before being radically revised by Ferdinand Hodler.
The wanderer with his back to the viewer takes on new life with Thomas Fearnley. Is he the artist’s alter ego?
Wanderers, wayfarers and pilgrims have walked across continents in search of wisdom, spiritual enlightenment, or a bite to eat and sheltered sleep.
Are they part of a narrative, or staffage? Do they provide scale, or enhance the effect? Are the figures part of the landscape, or even the landscape itself?
Painters of the early northern Renaissance founded modern Western landscape painting, and developed the first examples of staffage.
When a landscape artist finds it hard to paint figures well, there is one good solution: work with a figurative painter. The results can be spectacular.
One of the first dedicated landscape specialists who met the rising demand for ‘views’, his figures reveal his true interest in his motifs.
Like Poussin, most of his works are strongly narrative in intent. Did he paint any pure landscapes, or are all his figures actors in his stories?
Would such a great narrative painter really paint landscapes which lack a story?