True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe 1780–1870, Exhibition Catalog

About the Author

Ger Luijten is director of the Fondation Custodia in Paris. Mary Morton is curator and head of the department of French paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Jane Munro is keeper of paintings, drawings and prints at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and director of studies in the department of history of art at Christ’s College, Cambridge.

True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe 1780–1870, Exhibition Catalog

# 755922

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Ger Luijten, Mary Morton, and Jane Munro

Accompanying the National Gallery of Art exhibition True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe 1780–1870, this catalog presents essays by leading experts in the field and new information about this key aspect of European art history. At the end of the 18th century, the tradition of plein air painting gained considerable popularity in Rome. Having come from all over Europe to study classical sculpture, architecture, and masterpieces of the Renaissance and the baroque, groups of young artists set their eyes on the Italian countryside, training their hands to transcribe the effects of light. The practice soon spread throughout Europe and eventually became an essential aspect of art education and basic skill of landscape painting.


This lavish volume contains 140 color reproductions of sketches made en plein air between 1780 and 1870, demonstrating the skill and ingenuity with which each artist captures, with speed and on the spot, the effects of light and atmosphere. The works in True to Nature, most of them unfamiliar to the general public, convey the immediacy of nature in art and cast a fresh eye on the previously overlooked tradition of plein air painting.

  • Hardcover
  • 10 x 9.5 inches
  • 256 pages, 140 color plates
  • Published 2020

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