Pastures Green and Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape

Thomas Gainsborough, English, 1727–1788. Rocky Wooded Landscape with Rustic Lovers, Herdsman, and Cows, 1771–74. Oil on canvas, 147 x 175 x 9.5 cm. National Museum Wales, Courtesy American Federation of Arts

The British passion for landscape—already present in the literary works of Milton, Shakespeare, and even Chaucer—began to dominate the visual arts at the time of the Industrial Revolution. In his poem “Jerusalem” (1804), William Blake wrote of both “England’s green and pleasant land” and the “dark satanic mills” of its new industrial cities. Drawn from the remarkable collections of the National Museum Wales, Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape will offer audiences a rare opportunity to follow the rise of landscape painting in Britain, unfolding a story that runs from the Industrial Revolution through the eras of Romanticism, Impressionism, and Modernism, to the postmodern and post-industrial imagery of today.

Showcasing masterpieces by artists from Constable to Turner, to Monet working in Britain, the exhibition offers new insights into the cultural history of Britain as it became the world’s first industrial nation late in the eighteenth century. Cities—where the nation’s new wealth was generated and its population concentrated—mills, and factories started to challenge country estates and rolling hills as the defining images of the nation, and artists tracked, recorded, and resisted these changes, inaugurating a new era of British landscape painting which both celebrated the land’s natural beauty and a certain idea of Britain while also observing the feverish energies of the modern world. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Pastures Green and Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape is organized by the American Federation of Arts and Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales. The exhibition tour and catalogue are generously supported by the JFM Foundation, Mrs. Donald M. Cox, and the Marc Fitch Fund. In-kind support is provided by Barbara and Richard S. Lane and Christie’s.

The exhibition at Princeton has been made possible by support from the Frances E. and Elias Wolf, Class of 1920, Fund; the National Endowment for the Arts; Christopher E. Olofson, Class of 1992; and Susan and John Diekman, Class of 1965.  Additional support has been made possible by the Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Exhibitions Fund; the Judith and Anthony B. Evnin, Class of 1962, Exhibitions Fund; the Rita Allen Foundation; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts; Katherine P. Holden, MD, Class of 1973, and Joshua S. Jaffe, MD; and the Friends of the Princeton University Art Museum.