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.
Geomorphology is the scientific study of the origin and evolution of topographic and bathymetric features created by physical or chemical processes operating at or near Earth's surface. Geomorphologists seek to understand why landscapes look the way they do, to understand landform history and dynamics and to predict changes through a combination of field observations, physical experiments and numerical modeling. Geomorphology is practiced within physical geography, geology, geodesy, engineering geology, archaeology and geotechnical engineering. This broad base of interests contributes to many research styles and interests within the field.
Landscape ecology is the science of studying and improving relationships between ecological processes in the environment and particular ecosystems. This is done within a variety of landscape scales, development spatial patterns, and organizational levels of research and policy.
Integrated landscape management is a way of managing a landscape that brings together multiple stakeholders, who collaborate to integrate policy and practice for their different land use objectives, with the purpose of achieving sustainable landscapes. It recognises that, for example, one river basin can supply water for towns and agriculture, timber and food crops for smallholders and industry, and habitat for biodiversity; the way in which each one of these sectors pursues its goals can have impacts on the others. The intention is to minimise conflict between these different land use objectives and ecosystem services. This approach draws on landscape ecology, as well as many related fields that also seek to integrate different land uses and users, such as watershed management.
The English garden usually included a lake, sweeps of gently rolling lawns set against groves of trees, and recreations of classical temples, Gothic ruins, bridges, and other picturesque architecture, designed to recreate an idyllic pastoral landscape. The work of Lancelot "Capability" Brown and Humphry Repton was particularly influential. By the end of the 18th century the English garden was being imitated by the French landscape garden, and as far away as St. Petersburg, Russia, in Pavlovsk, the gardens of the future Emperor Paul. It also had a major influence on the form of the public parks and gardens which appeared around the world in the 19th century.
For the period before 1800, the history of landscape gardening (later called landscape architecture) is largely that of master planning and garden design for manor houses, palaces and royal properties, religious complexes, and centers of government. An example is the extensive work by André Le Nôtre at Vaux-le-Vicomte and at the Palace of Versailles for King Louis XIV of France. The first person to write of making a landscape was Joseph Addison in 1712. The term landscape architecture was invented by Gilbert Laing Meason in 1828 and was first used as a professional title by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1863. During the latter 19th century, the term landscape architect became used by professional people who designed landscapes. Frederick Law Olmsted used the term 'landscape architecture' as a profession for the first time when designing Central Park, New York City, US. Here the combination of traditional landscape gardening and the emerging field of city planning gave landscape architecture its unique focus. This use of the term landscape architect became established after Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and others founded the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 1899.
Many landscape photographs show little or no human activity and are created in the pursuit of a pure, unsullied depiction of nature devoid of human influence, instead featuring subjects such as strongly defined landforms, weather, and ambient light. As with most forms of art, the definition of a landscape photograph is broad, and may include urban settings, industrial areas, and nature photography. Notable landscape photographers include Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell, Edward Weston, Ben Heine, Mark Gray and Fred Judge.
A major contrast between landscape painting in the West and East Asia has been that while in the West until the 19th century it occupied a low position in the accepted hierarchy of genres, in East Asia the classic Chinese mountain-water ink painting was traditionally the most prestigious form of visual art. However, in the West, history painting came to require an extensive landscape background where appropriate, so the theory did not entirely work against the development of landscape painting – for several centuries landscapes were regularly promoted to the status of history painting by the addition of small figures to make a narrative scene, typically religious or mythological.
In England, landscapes had initially been mostly backgrounds to portraits, typically suggesting the parks or estates of a landowner, though mostly painted in London by an artist who had never visited the site. the English tradition was founded by Anthony van Dyck and other, mostly Flemish, artists working in England. By the beginning of the 19th century the English artists with the highest modern reputations were mostly dedicated landscapists, showing the wide range of Romantic interpretations of the English landscape found in the works of John Constable, J.M.W. Turner and Samuel Palmer. However all these had difficulty establishing themselves in the contemporary art market, which still preferred history paintings and portraits.
The term neo-romanticism is applied in British art history, to a loosely affiliated school of landscape painting that emerged around 1930 and continued until the early 1950s. These painters looked back to 19th-century artists such as William Blake and Samuel Palmer, but were also influenced by French cubist and post-cubist artists such as Pablo Picasso, André Masson, and Pavel Tchelitchew (Clark and Clarke 2001; Hopkins 2001). This movement was motivated in part as a response to the threat of invasion during World War II. Artists particularly associated with the initiation of this movement included Paul Nash, John Piper, Henry Moore, Ivon Hitchens, and especially Graham Sutherland. A younger generation included John Minton, Michael Ayrton, John Craxton, Keith Vaughan, Robert Colquhoun, and Robert MacBryde (Button 1996).