The flow of naturalism – In fine art, there are various types of flow that display the image objects in the work of art. One flow that is often used is the flow of Naturalism. This flow is one of the streams of art that is generally used to express the impression of romanticism. Not only that, the flow of Naturalism has a fairly long history and there are many figures who contributed to this flow.
For more details, in this article we will discuss the meaning of Naturalism, its history, characteristics, and also the characters in it along with examples of their work. Let’s see the full explanation below.
Definition of Naturalism
Naturalism is one of the schools of art that emphasizes the accuracy and similarity of objects drawn so that they look more natural and realistic like their references in nature. This flow of art is a form of appreciation from artists for the natural beauty that exists. Generally, these artists will raise the theme of the beauty of the landscape around them, as happened in the indie mooi movement in Indonesia.
Artists sometimes choose a more dramatic background light, namely at sunrise and sunset. This was done to obtain golden hours of lighting. This dramatic selection of light is one of the characteristics of the Romanticism school which was rebelled by the Naturalism school. Where Naturalism assumes that in lighting that is not dramatic, natural beauty will still be depicted.
This flow of naturalism is one example of how a school of art can also be interpreted centuries after its initial movements emerged. Because, although the Naturalism movement was a form of development from realism and against romanticism, its prototype dates back to the 17th century. Then in the 1820s, early forms of Naturalism had become a dominant trend in landscape painting. Which is largely due to the influence of an artist from England named John Constable.
During this period, artist groups and schools aimed at the general public were established in various places around the world. Some of these schools include Norwich Academy in Eastern England, Barbizon Academy in central France, and Hudson River Academy in New York State. It was these schools that were able to influence all of Europe.
History of Naturalism
After knowing the meaning of Naturalism, we will now discuss the history of the emergence of Naturalism. Here is a full explanation.
The history of Naturalism was originally introduced by John Amos Comenius, a philosopher in the 16th century. At that time, this philosopher is believed to be someone who first introduced this flow, especially in the world of education. For the flow of Naturalism has existed since the 1850s in France and became one of the reactions of the establishment by the followers of the Romanticism School. Besides being supported by Naturalism figures, this school is also developing quite rapidly in line with advances in visual and measurement technology. One example is regarding the depiction of human anatomy and also animals that are increasingly accurate. So that painting in the flow of Naturalism can depict human objects and animals in more detail according to their original form.
The development of this one stream is also supported by an increase in the growing distance perspective knowledge. So that painters can apply this knowledge in their paintings to depict objects more realistically according to what they see. In the 17th century, the depiction of weather conditions and lighting in paintings also improved, that is, they became smoother and more real. So it is very helpful to describe the flow of Naturalism.
Slightly different from the term Naturalism which is often used in fine arts. In the world of literature, the term naturalism means prose fiction which is more radical than realism. That means, naturalism literature will tell a clear story about realities that often occur on a daily basis without any censorship of scenes or controversial dialogues. Surely this is done as long as the controversial scene still has a purpose.
Meanwhile, naturalism in art can be a term used to express “resemblance to nature”. Where an image that is very similar to the original can be called natural, this is certainly outside the context of Naturalism. Whereas in the world of literature, Naturalism is generally written with a capital “N” to express that naturalism is a specific term for only one school, not a natural term for any context.
Characteristics of Naturalism
Distinguishing the flow of naturalism with other streams can be said not so easy. Especially when compared to the flow of realism. But, we can stick to some of its characteristics, as follows:
1. Emphasize the similarity of the painting image with the object being painted according to the original.
2. The techniques and abilities of the artists are the main weapon.
3. Carrying the theme of beautiful paintings but based on purity.
4. Naturalism is a form of appreciation by artists for the beauty of the natural surroundings.
5. Carrying out the theme of natural beauty and the scenery that surrounds the artist.
6. Painting the beauty, beauty, and good looks of human portraits as they are without exaggeration.
Important Figures & Examples of Painting Naturalism
As previously explained, this flow is an example of a flow that was initiated long after its appearance. Therefore, the figures who have an important role in the development of this flow will also have a fairly large gap between years. The following are some of the artists who became influential figures in the development of Naturalism.
1. John Constable
John Constable is an artist from England who is considered a figure artist who gave a lot of influence in the development of Naturalism. He had previously rejected the landscape painting style. Constable said that “The custom of painters today is bravura, an attempt to depict something that is beyond the truth”.
Then, he chose to create his own way of representation by transferring what he saw himself as honestly as possible on canvas. Not only that, Constable also chooses to paint whatever is around him first. In the letter he wrote to his colleague, he wrote “I should paint my own best places”. Constables are also interested in the light and also the clouds that are in the clouds without discriminating which one is nicer or which one is more beautiful.
John Constable’s Naturalism Painting
Dedham Vale (1816) & Analysis
The following are some examples of paintings by John Constable:
The techniques promoted by Constable have not been fully achieved in this work. Where the painting above was made in his youth with a political background and also the war that took place in his country. Even so, the painting has reflected his commitment to fairly accurate and honest observations of nature. It can be seen in the details of the trees and sky which are very detailed.
The eye of the observer is directed to the farthest part of the river view, along the river route to the distant tower of Dedham Church, which, while small, forms a strong focal point for the painting. The trees on either side of the canvas form a frame to the center of the image and provide the main view. Constable also presents the view around the house well, through an aesthetic view without exaggerating.
Maria Bicknell (1816) & Her Analysis
This painting is a portrait of the Constable’s fiancé. Where the painting was made about three months before their wedding. The portrait is considered to be very similar to Maria Bicknell’s face. Even though the level of resemblance is quite accurate, John is not shy about showing his brush stroke markings. It makes for a really nice contrast between the background and the part of the portrait that’s in front.
The White Horse (1819) & Its Analysis
In the painting above, Constable depicts a scene of life in the countryside which is quite natural. Applying no expression or emotion, pitying or celebrating the working lives of those he paints. The constable is simply presenting it as he sees it. In his paintings, Constable shows men continuing to live the way they have lived for years, despite the growing threat of industrialization.
2. Thomas Cole
Thomas Cole is an artist who was born in an industrial area of England. He later moved to the United States at a young age. Since then, Cole has always tried to capture the exotic beauty of the deserts in the Americas. Cole’s paintings also serve as a monument to the hopes and anxieties of the newly emerging American society during the mid-19th century. He is considered to be the first artist to bring the eye of the European landscape painter to the Americas. However, this figure still presents a unique view of America.
Thomas Cole’s Naturalism Painting
The following are some examples of paintings by Thomas Cole:
Lake with Dead Trees (Catskill) (1825) & Its Analysis
Lake with Dead offers views of the Catskill Mountains in southeastern New York. On the shores of a lonely lake surrounded by dead trees and also two deer walking back and forth. The background for the painting itself is when dusk is coming. Behind the forest, the sun that was about to make its way to its halt still shone its light through the cloudy sky. Even though this work is a painting from the Naturalist school that focuses on technicality and also accuracy in painting. But there are meanings or interpretations that can be produced. This painting is often interpreted as a contemplation and a dialogue between life and death and the passage of time that witnesses this dialogue.
The Consummation of Empire (1836) & Its Analysis
The painting is one of a series of five paintings entitled The Course of Empire commissioned by Lyman Reed. Each of the paintings in this series presents the same landscape at a different stage from the rise to fall of this imaginary civilization. All of the art was intended as a warning against excessive imperial ambitions. This one painting presents an empire that is at the peak of its power unaware and drugged by its own ambitions which actually destroys the city.
America had just freed itself from the British Empire when this painting was made. Cole wanted to warn that the new country must not fall into the same hole as its European predecessors. Not only that, this series seems to express Cole’s anxiety about the threat of industrial encroachment and urban expansion to the American landscape which is developing so rapidly that it ignores the nature around it.
3.William Bliss Baker
William Bliss Baker is an artist from the United States. Baker began his art education at the National Academy of Design in 1876. He was a talented artist who successfully exhibited many exhibitions even when he was still a student. This happened because Baker was proficient in painting long before he majored in art. Baker also won many awards such as Hallgarten and Elliot which was a classy award in his day.
In a way, Baker is a Naturalism artist who has the most technical ability in this genre. Where the painting technique is very accurate and has inspired many births of a new school which was later inspired by the flow of Naturalism. Whether it’s the perpetrators of photo-realism in modern times, to hyper-realism in the contemporary era like now.
William Bliss Baker’s Naturalism Painting
The following are some examples of paintings by William Bliss Baker:
Fallen Monarchs (1886) and Their Analysis
This painting presents two fallen trees in contrast to the newly grown trees that adorn the forest. The light that penetrates the twigs and branches of the tree gives a spiritual impression and an image of hope in the work. This is an example of a system of expression that was successfully given even though the artist objectively only presents nature in a painting.
Fallen Monarchs is called one of Bliss Baker’s masterpieces. In fact, this work is a painting produced at the beginning of his career. The accuracy in the depiction of the scenery in the painting beats the photographs that could be taken at that time. In contrast to other streams, where they avoid the main capabilities of photography, Baker instead conquers this technology by using his brush strokes.
4. Abdullah Suriosubroto
Abdullah Suriosubroto is believed to be the first generation of Indonesian painters or artists to have gained international reputation in the 20th century, after Raden Saleh had previously received it in the 19th century. He is the son of a national movement figure named Dr. Wahidin Sudirohusodo. Abdullah Suriosubroto had studied medicine in the Netherlands. However, he prefers to be a painter. He is the father of the painter Basoeki Abdullah and a sculptor named Trijoto Abdullah.
Abdullah Suriosubroto’s Naturalism painting
The following is an example of a painting by Abdullah Suriosubroto:
Mountain View (1935)
The landscape painting above is the forerunner of classic paintings in Indonesia. Where the painting will later influence all naturalist painters in painting a local landscape. The view of Indonesia which has the characteristic of having blue mountains behind a stretch of rice fields and flanked by forest hills.
5. Basuki Abdullah
Basuki Abdullah is the son of Abdullah Suriosubroto. He has also contributed greatly to the world of Indonesian art. Since childhood, Basuki Abdullah has started to like the world of art. Then he obtained formal art education at the Academy of Fine Arts, Academie Voor Beeldende Kunsten, in The Hague, Netherlands.