Landscapes Real & Ideal 1740‒1880

Open daily, 10am–5pm

Admission free


A display revealing the variety of different approaches to painting the landscape in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Landscape emerged as an independent branch of painting in the 16th century. Previously it had served as a setting, mainly for religious or narrative subjects. Its importance and popularity grew, until by the 19th century it had become the preferred subject matter for many innovative artists.

Several approaches to landscape painting appeared, all of them based on the direct study of natural forms. Taking inspiration from the influential 17th-century landscape painters Claude Lorrain (1604/5–1680) and Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665), ‘classical’ landscape painters sought to improve and perfect the randomness of nature by rearranging its elements into idealised, timeless compositions.

A growing fashion for painting out of doors (en plein air) gave rise to more realistic trends with a strong sense of place and direct observation. Artists like Richard Parkes Bonington and John Constable captured fleeting effects of light and weather decades before the advent of Impressionism. From the 18th century onwards, international travel and tourism created a high demand for views (vedute) of famous sites and monuments, notably in Venice and Rome.

Event accessibility

Display accessibility

  • Wheelchair access


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Gallery facilities

Detailed information on accessibility at the National Galleries of Scotland

Our partial Changing Places toilet is currently out of order, we hope to be able to resolve this very soon. 

There are a limited number of small lockers available, but there is no space to store large items of luggage.

There is limited on street parking close by including for those with a blue badge.

  • Information desk
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Accessible toilets
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Public toilets
  • Lockers (£1/£2)
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Buggy park
  • Seating throughout
  • Bike rack
  • Café
  • Restaurant
Getting here

Getting here

The National can be found just off Princes Street in the city centre.

Venue map
  • Open daily, 10am–5pm
The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL

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