What is picturesque?

  • (adj): Strikingly expressive.
    Example: "A picturesque description of the rainforest"
    See also — Additional definitions below


Picturesque is an aesthetic ideal introduced into English cultural debate in 1782 by William Gilpin in Observations on the River Wye, and Several Parts of South Wales, etc. Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty; made in the Summer of the Year 1770, a practical book which instructed England's leisured travelers to examine "the face of a country by the rules of picturesque beauty". Picturesque, along with the aesthetic and cultural strands of Gothic and Celticism, was a part of the emerging Romantic sensibility of the 18th century.

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Some articles on picturesque:

Samuel Ireland - Works
... A Picturesque Tour through Holland, Brabant, and part of France made in the Autumn of 1789, London, 1790 ... Picturesque Views on the River Thames, 1792, 2 vols ... Picturesque Views on the River Medway, 1793, 1 volume ...
Picturesque - Notable Works
... Gilpin's Three Essays On Picturesque Beauty On Picturesque Travel and on Sketching Landscape to which is Added a Poem, On Landscape Painting was published in ... A third great essay on the Picturesque was Uvedale Price, An Essay on the Picturesque, as Compared with the Sublime and the Beautiful and on the Use of Studying Pictures, for the Purpose of Improving Real. 1803 (1874) considered a classic of picturesque travel writing ...
Borrowed Scenery - Ties Between borrowed Scenery and The Picturesque Style
... He called it "the picturesque" and qualified it to mean all that cannot fit into the two more rational states evoked by the other categories ... Price, and Humphrey Repton all called for promotion of the picturesque ... between the precursor borrowed scenery and the later picturesque style movement is the role of travel and its integration in designing one’s home to enhance one's political and social standing ...
Harry Fenn
... for the engravings he contributed to "Picturesque Europe", "Picturesque Palestine, Sinai and Egypt" (1881–84) and "Picturesque America" (edited by William Cullen Bryant, 1872) ... "Picturesque America" followed an extended tour of the country to gather material ...
Claude Glass
... They were famously used by picturesque artists in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a frame for drawing sketches of picturesque landscapes ... tinted mirror—in a sort of pre-photographic lens—which added the picturesque aesthetic of a subtle gradation of tones ... landscape painter, whose name in the late 18th century became synonymous with the picturesque aesthetic ...

More definitions of "picturesque":

  • (adj): Suggesting or suitable for a picture; pretty as a picture.
    Example: "A picturesque village"

Famous quotes containing the word picturesque:

    The language of excitement is at best picturesque merely. You must be calm before you can utter oracles.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    As we approached the log house,... the projecting ends of the logs lapping over each other irregularly several feet at the corners gave it a very rich and picturesque look, far removed from the meanness of weather-boards. It was a very spacious, low building, about eighty feet long, with many large apartments ... a style of architecture not described by Vitruvius, I suspect, though possibly hinted at in the biography of Orpheus.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. A really great poet is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realise.
    Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)