Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

The appeal of landscape: why do we love to look at them, and why dont we all love them equally?

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Who this event is for

  • Everyone


JHB Lecture Theatre, John Henry Brookes Building, Headington Campus


Most people love landscape, or nature, in some form – whether it’s the wide open spaces of the seaside and mountains, the gentler charms of parkland, or the familiarity of our own back gardens and allotments.

Landscape painting captures the visual appeal of these experiences, but also taps into its wider associations. Is this love of landscape inborn, a product of our evolutionary history? Or is it created and/or modified by culture? Why have different types of landscape been appreciated in different times and places? And why might people prefer images of rough or calm seas, summer or winter trees, agriculture or wilderness?

Christiana looks at a range of examples and theories to answer these questions, focusing in particular on 19th-century Britain and the paintings of Constable, Palmer and the Pre-Raphaelites.

About the Speaker


Christiana Payne is Professor of History of Art at Oxford Brookes. She has curated exhibitions of 19th-century British landscapes, interiors and portraits in London, Cambridge, Bristol, and New Haven, Connecticut amongst others.Her publications include Toil and Plenty: images of the Agricultural Landscape in England, 1780-1890.