Cityscapes -
Mick McAndrews, “Rittenhouse Square” (Philadelphia), 2019, watercolor, 22 x 15 in. Private collection, Studio

As a painting subject, cityscapes enjoy a relatively short history. Beginning with a Roman fresco dating to the first century A.D., cities showed up in art primarily as backdrops for portraits and biblical themes, or in service of mapping overviews. It wasn’t until the mid-17th century that the city came into its own as a worthy theme.

In “View of Delft” (1660–1661), Jan Vermeer painted an accurate portrait of the Dutch city, touching off a trend of cityscape painting that existed through the 19th century. In their work, the Impressionists took the theme further and shone a spotlight on the atmosphere and dynamics of everyday urban life. As was the case for most realistic painting genres, however, cityscapes took a back seat to abstract and conceptual art through much of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the revival of figurative art at the end of the century that the city reemerged as a compelling subject.

Oil landscape paintings -
Tim Horn, “Side Entrance,” 2014, oil, 18 x 24 in. Private collection, Plein air
Watercolor landscapes -
Richard Sneary, “Alley Shadows,” 2014, watercolor, 10 x 7 in. Private collection, Plein air
Cityscapes -
Gary Frisk, “Ol’ Railroad Cafe,” 2015, oil, 12 x 9 in. Private collection, Plein air and studio
Cityscapes -
John Caggiano, “Church and Atlantic,” 2014, oil, 16 x 20 in. Private collection, Plein air

Upcoming travel and art events with Streamline Publishing:

> Click here to subscribe to the free newsletter, Plein Air Today
> And click here to subscribe to PleinAir Magazine so you never miss an issue!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here