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Why set a portrait in a landscape or a landscape in a portrait? a comparative analysis of the functions of landscape in Thomas Gainsborough’s Mr. and Mrs. Andrews (c 1750) and Cornelia Parker’s Landscape with Gun and Tree (2010) by Nicola Catterall

Consideration of the 2010 sculpture that clearly references the 1750 painting, selecting and exaggerating just a few of the painting’s elements, draws attention to compositional, symbolic, biographical and contextual aspects of the earlier painting. As a site-specific structure, Parker’s work is framed in and by the landscape it inhabits, causing us to consider anew the specificity of Gainsborough’s setting and the holistic composition of the painting. This comparison helps to both ground the painting in the social, political and geographical world of its sitters, and reveal the controlling hand of the artist. The symbolic nature of the gun and tree in Mr. and Mrs. Andrews is highlighted by Parker’s work, and the lack of explicit sitters questions the nature of portraiture, allowing us to probe the boundary between landscape and portrait painting to uncover the particular enhancing effect of combining them.

Date created: 
Monday, June 21, 2021
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Why set a portrait in a landscape or a landscape in a portrait? a comparative analysis of the functions of landscape in Thomas Gainsborough’s Mr. and Mrs. Andrews (c 1750) and Cornelia Parker’s Landscape with Gun and Tree (2010) by Nicola Catterall, All rights reserved.
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