Object Image

Landscape: Moonlight

Valenciennes is regarded as a key figure in the developments that occurred in French landscape painting during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He was among the first to emphasise the practice of painting scenes en plein air (in the open-air), and was responsible for elevating the status of the landscape scene to an accepted academic genre.

This painting has two focuses. In the centre the bright full moon illuminates the clouds and the landscape below and its reflection highlights the calm water of the river and draws the eye into the deep perspective of the painting.

In the left foreground a more intimate scene takes place. Under tall poplar trees, a woman prays at a grave in a cemetery, its gateway marked with a cross. Perhaps the weeping willow at the right symbolises the sorrow of the bereaved.

Oil on canvas
Images and text © Bowes Museum, 2017

Where you'll find this

The Bowes Museum
The Bowes Museum
Permanent collection