Positive Aesthetic of Appreciation of Seasonal Variations in Light and Weather in the Visual Arts of Northern Places
While based in Art History, the study aimed to draw on insights from anthropology and take account of implications for health and wellbeing. It also considered elements of the cultural history and the cultural assumptions that lay behind northern aesthetic choices.
The heart of the project challenged the widely-held assumption that the climate of the North (defined as those territories stretching north from the 55th parallel to the arctic) was, of its nature harsh and stark, as opposed to the more temperate, clement zones of the Mediterranean - and of Mediterranean painting.
The study sought to identify a distinctively northern aesthetic which accepted and celebrated seasonal variations of light and weather, and made them central to a schooling of sensibility to a realistic enjoyment of the reality of such variation.
The other part of the investigation considered the process whereby the art of the Mediterranean was gradually rejected as the most useful exemplar for the art of the north. Clear examples can be found in the works of Caspar David Freidrich (1774-1840) or Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916).