This exhibition explores the link between topography and tourism in the development of British landscape painting from the late 17th to the early 19th century. In Britain, landscape painting grew out of the tradition of topographical drawing, which was used to record accurate information about a particular place, usually for a military or scientific purpose.
Landscape, in and of itself, was not highly regarded as a subject for art. However, as the phenomenon of tourism grew over the course of the 18th century—from the Grand Tour in Rome to domestic scenes such as the English Lake District or the mountains of Wales—travelers’ desires for images of the places they had visited generated a fashion for topographical views. This market was supplied by a developing school of professional landscape artists, who infused their topographical landscapes with qualities of the imagination, elevating what was once a tool for recording information to the status of art.
Topography to Tourism presents 22 works by major figures in British landscape art, including the early topographical draftsman Wenceslaus Hollar, the great military draftsman Paul Sandby, one of the founding members of the Royal Academy, and William Daniell, whose immense Voyage Around Great Britain included over 300 images of British landscape scenery drawn on the spot and painstakingly rendered in aquatint.