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Pictorialism in English poetry and landscape in the eighteenth century Maclachlan, Douglas John

Abstract

This thesis explores pictorialism in eighteenth-century poetry and landscape. The tradition of ut pictura poesis is presented in terms of its origins in antiquity, its background in the thought of the eighteenth century, its manifestations in the poetry of the period, and its relations to the picturesque in landscape. A sketch of the origins and development of literary pictorialism in Greece and Rome, the medieval, Renaissance, and post-Renaissance periods, outlines its leading features and furnishes a historical perspective against which eighteenth-century practices can be viewed. Special attention is given to the bond between the sister arts of painting and poetry and to the new standards of artistic excellence deriving from Italian Renaissance and baroque painting. In eighteenth-century poetry, passages from Pope and Thomson illustrate neo-classical pictorial practice with respect to the ancient doctrine of enargeia (vivid, lifelike imitation), the means of idealizing nature, and the iconic tradition of imitating or describing objects of art. These practices are shown to serve aesthetic, social, or moral purposes. Finally, the thesis discusses Thomson's pictorial poetry as the product of traditional ut pictura poesis and not as the cause of picturesque landscape vision. The relationship between literary pictorialism and the landscape picturesque is clarified by relating Thomson's characteristic landscape form to Claude Lorraine, Salvator Rosa, and Nicolas Poussin. And the landscape picturesque itself, discussed largely in terms of its origins in the English natural garden and its formalization in the aesthetic theories of William Gilpin and Uvedale Price, is shown, like poetic pictorialism, to be a product of the neo-classical doctrine of models, another form of neo-classical "imitation." As such it rounds out the paper's study of pictorialism in the eighteenth century.

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