2016FallSymposiumURCreativityEngagement has ended
Tuesday, December 6 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Environmental Landscapes: The Role Of Birds In The Works Of Charles-François Daubigny

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Barbizon School artist Charles-François Daubigny’s landscape compositions depict various species of living birds within their native habitats. While there is significant scholarship on the artist, the role of birds in his works has not been studied. This paper argues that Daubigny’s works represent bird species in a primary role in the landscape, while concurrently suggesting a new genre of ornithological art. The artist portrayed birds in an environmental and active manner, emphasizing the importance of the natural habitat to the avian species. In the larger context of Western art history, birds had been depicted in a mostly symbolic manner, which did not recognize them as individual animals apart from their relations to humans. With the rise of the Enlightenment, natural philosophers and ornithological artists began representing birds in a scientific, unbiased manner. However, as visual analyses elucidate, Daubigny’s style differs from theirs because he depicted the birds’ surrounding habitat to a larger degree, enabling the viewer to understand the crucial symbiotic relationship birds have with their environment. Paintings such as A River Landscape with Storks (1864) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Moonrise (1877) in the Brooklyn Museum contain identifiable species of water birds performing their daily or nightly routines. By describing the birds as living organisms inhabiting an ecosystem, rather than as specimens or symbols, the artist stressed their ecological roles. While Daubigny’s landscapes still fulfill a primarily artistic rather than scientific role, they are based on observation, and are therefore truthful recordings of bird species and their environments.

Tuesday December 6, 2016 1:40pm - 2:00pm
237 Owen Hall

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