Introduction: The Darkness of the Forest

     

 

Aristocratic landscape painting of the time reflects the view that forests were dark, grim, and unpleasant places, the realm of thieves and dangerous creatures.

During the Modern Period, the understory of forests in landscape paintings gradually lightened and glowed with light. This change is of religious significance. In the Middle Ages, God was regarded as transcendental, outside of the world. For this reason, love of nature diminished love of God. The increased light in later landscape paintings reflects God's entrance into nature. After God entered into nature, people were able to love God through nature, resolving the conflict between them.


Paolo Ucello, The Hunt in the Woods, 15th century, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford