• Among The Arboreal: Herman Van Swanevelt, Trees, and the Early Modern Landscape

      Cuneo, Pia F.; Widdifield, Stacie; Marquis, Jonathan; Moore, Sarah J.; Busbea, Larry (The University of Arizona., 2019)
      The lifeworlds of humans and trees entangle in an ecology of relations to give shape to early seventeenth-century developments in landscape painting. Yet, trees are given little academic consideration, in favor of broad, ahistorical frameworks like the pastoral and sublime, even though the gnarled forms of trees dominate the earliest instances of the landscape genre. This thesis considers an arboreal-turn toward art history and examines early modern trees from a post-human, new materialism, and somatic perspective to shed light as to why trees are so profuse at a formative moment in the development of autonomous landscape pictures. Trees are dynamic sites of encounter and exchange in the landscape, whose meaning takes form through a range of disciplines and bodily activities that include labor, leisure, walking, contemplation and drawing. According to Tim Ingold, it is only after this mutually generative exchange does one get to thinking about the landscape. The landscape, it must be remembered, is inhabited before it is painted, and inhabitation, at its root, is a sensorial and somatic process unfolding within a landscape. Nicknamed the “Hermit” for his predilection to solitary wanderings near Rome, Herman van Swanevelt (1604-1655) is remembered for being one of the first to render specific atmospheric conditions of light, free of the religious subject matter that long defined the genre. However, trees dominate Swanevelt’s entire oeuvre. A close examination of Swanevelt’s etching View of the Palatine in Rome reveals the therapeutic efficacy of early modern arboreal landscapes, enacted through the activities of the print’s figures.