THE EFFECT OF GEOGRAPHY ON THE IMPRESSIONISTS. Christie Davies, in a review on the New Criterion website of EUROPEAN ART: A NEUROARTHISTORY by John Onian, provides a lot of observations about the effect of geography on painters that had never occurred to me (link via arts and letters daily). In the review, Davies applies a theory of the 19th century art critic Hippolyte Taine—the kind of sweeping generalization that is a lot of fun to apply.
Davies says: “Taine contended that landscape painters were often driven by the experience of deeply felt visual patterns early in life—by their personal history of intense looking….painters from the featureless Low Countries or the deltas of major rivers were destined to be colorists, fascinated by the shifting light of the day or the season, like Monet. Cézanne, growing up in the vividly lit, mountainous south of France, was, by contrast, Taine argued, a master of line. The patterns were clearly there in their unconscious minds.”