Hackfall, Landscape Inspiration for Artists

Views and vistas as inspiration

One concept of art at Hackfall is in the way the landscape itself is put together.  18th Century 'gardens' like Hackfall had four elements:
• trees and plants
• water
• folly buildings and seats
• paths

Views were really important to the design at Hackfall. There were views of built features such as the follies, waterfalls, cascades and pools, nearby Masham Church and views of natural features, including the cliffs and the River Ure and its valley.

Even the very trees that make up the wood didn’t stand in the way of the designers; they were cleared to open up the views. Although, the more subtly this was done the more successful it was.

Views were created with the rules of art composition in mind. They were designed to 'wow' and enthral visitors with their beauty, focal points and symmetry (there was no X-Factor is those days to keep people entertained!). In fact, views were so important in Hackfall that there are lots of different kinds from vistas, vignettes and sightlines to prospects, panoramas and even peeps.  (Download Views and Viewpoints - background notes , for description of different categories of 'views' based on 18th C ideas of landscape design).

It’s no wonder Hackfall attracted esteemed members of the English school of landscape painting in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Hackfall was bursting at the seams with landscape views just waiting to be painted (see 'Hackfall Garth' by Nicholas Thomas Dall above).

The views at Hackfall create ready-made compositions for artists to interpret in their own way.


See 'Related Links' below for more on the theory of views (from garden designer Humphry Repton), the history of landscape painting and English landscape painters, and a PDF resource pack from the Tate on Constable's Great Landscapes.

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