Landscape acquired a naturalistic character in the 17th century although maintaining its function as a setting for mythological or religious episodes, as in Poussin’s Noli me tangere. There is, however, no narrative content in Jan Brueghel the Elder’s Landscape or Dughet’s Landscape with a Waterfall, marking a tendency towards landscape as an autonomous genre that culminates here with Velázquez’s Views of the Villa Medici. The “classical landscape”, a concept that arose in Italy at the start of the 17th century, recreated the classical world through an arranged, ordered and serene vision of nature that included classical buildings, to be seen here in works by Claude Lorrain and Domenichino. Northern landscape continued to pursue the older tradition of Brueghel the Elder, represented by Building the Tower of Babel by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. It also, however, turned to new, modern themes of daily life, evident in works by Jan Brueghel the Elder, Brueghel the Younger in collaboration with Vranck, and Bout. Finally, northern artists living and working in Italy, such as Bramer, interpreted classical subjects with a particular sensitivity to everyday, realistic details. Especially remarkable within this context are Pieter Fris’s Orpheus and Eurydice in the Underworld and the unique forest of crosses of around 1630 by an anonymous French painter. Inspired by a work by the Italian artist Lelio Orsi, this unusual subject of an allegorical nature is based on a complex use of mathematics and on eff ects of light and colour that anticipate Velázquez’s investigation of the depiction of space.

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