What is the Picturesque?
Notoriously slippery, the picturesque can be hard to define. There are certain features of the genre: paintings will depict a natural scene abundant with variety, detail, and texture. Moreover, the picturesque is about how the art makes the viewer feel. Born from the emerging Romantic sensibilities of the 18th century, philosophers like Edmund Burke proposed that reactions to the aesthetic world were not rational, but instinctual. The middle ground between the pastoral ideals of beauty and the horrors of the sublime, picturesque landscape lifts up and inspires the senses with a feeling of awe, but not terror. It instills serenity but not complacency. It is at once alluring, ideal, and wild.