In this fresh and authoritative account John Macarthur presents the eighteenth century idea of the picturesque - when it was a risky term concerned with a refined taste for everyday things, such as the hovels of the labouring poor - in the light of its reception and effects in modern culture. In a series of linked essays Macarthur shows:
- what the concept of picture does in the picturesque and how this relates to modern theories of the image
- how the distaste that might be felt today at the sentimentality of the picturesque was already at play in the eighteenth century
- how visual values such as 'irregularity' become the basis of modern architectural planning; how the concept of appropriating a view moves from landscape design into urban design
- why movement is fundamental to picturing the stillness of buildings, cities and landscapes.
Drawing on examples from architecture, art and broader culture, John Macarthur's account of this key topic in cultural history, makes engaging reading for all those studying architecture, art history, cultural history or visual studies.