In Renaissance Italy the study of perspective gave rise to a careful rendering of scenery according to conventional formulas. Giorgione and the Venetian painters excelled at pastoral vistas that recalled scenes from classical literature. Flemish works enhanced by meticulous landscape detail became popular in Italy and encouraged Patinir and others to cater to this taste. Altdorfer, the Danube painter of the early 16th cent., created some of the first works devoted entirely to landscape.
During and after the Reformation the use of religious subject matter was restricted and numerous artists in the north became specialists in the landscape genre at which, when painting backgrounds of religious works, they had become proficient. These artists, among whom Pieter Bruegel the elder was most notable, were devoted to fantastic scenes painted according to established convention in tones of brown for the foreground, green for the middle ground, and blue for the background panorama. In Rome, Dutch artists, led by Coninxloo, initiated the concept of the ideal landscape.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.