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Travel & Scenery Collection

History Archive - Travel & Scenery Collection

Many historical explorers and adventurers created visual representations of the landscape and scenery of the regions they visited around the globe. No matter by pencil, paintbrush, paper or stone and even later photography, many of these images were published in lithographic form in old books that help provide the first pictorial descriptions of these places in history. In comparing them to the modern landscape we can see how natural processes can shape the environment.

A landscape is the visible features of an area of land, its landforms, and how they integrate with natural or man-made features. A landscape includes the physical elements of geophysically defined landforms such as (ice-capped) mountains, hills, water bodies such as rivers, lakes, ponds and the sea, living elements of land cover including indigenous vegetation, human elements including different forms of land use, buildings, and structures, and transitory elements such as lighting and weather conditions. Combining both their physical origins and the cultural overlay of human presence, often created over millennia, landscapes reflect a living synthesis of people and place that is vital to local and national identity.

The character of a landscape helps define the self-image of the people who inhabit it and a sense of place that differentiates one region from other regions. It is the dynamic backdrop to people's lives. Landscape can be as varied as farmland, a landscape park or wilderness. The Earth has a vast range of landscapes, including the icy landscapes of polar regions, mountainous landscapes, vast arid desert landscapes, islands, and coastal landscapes, densely forested or wooded landscapes including past boreal forests and tropical rainforests, and agricultural landscapes of temperate and tropical regions. The activity of modifying the visible features of an area of land is referred to as landscaping.

All of these were richly illustrated with and without color and form a a major basis for our collections. One of the major cataloguers of travel and scenery works was J.R. Abbey who published a multi-volume set dedicated to historical images set in both aquatint and lithography. His work has been instrumental in helping with the bibliographic information for our various collections.

References:

Abbey, J.R. (1956-57) Travel in aquatint and lithography, 1770-1860: from the library of J.R. Abbey: a bibliographical catalogue. London: Priv. print. at the Curwen Press. 2 v. (xiii, 675 p.). v. 1. World, Europe, Africa -- v. 2. Asia, Oceania, Antarctica, America. Reprints through Folkestone: Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1972. and San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1991.

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