Theories of Perception and the Aesthetics of Landscape Painting in Britain, Australia and the United States

Activity: Service and engagementPublic lecture, debate or seminar


Discussions of landscape painting in this period have been dominated by traditional tensions between the aesthetic conventions of the beautiful, the sublime and the picturesque and how their significance differs in different countries. In this lecture Emeritus Professor Richard Read looks at the way in which such conventions are underwritten by conflicts between empirical and idealist theories of perception in painting and writing about landscapes that are new to Western occupiers. He argues that the issue of the blind man newly restored to sight in the philosophical writings of John Locke, Bishop Berkeley and others bears not only on the subject matter and style of certain landscape paintings in three countries, but forms of government and the legal status of indigenous peoples. This reflects the arguments of a chapter shortly to be published in Colonization, Wilderness and Other Spaces: Nineteenth-Century Landscape Painting in Australia and the United States, ed. Richard Read and Kenneth Haltman (Chicago: Terra Foundation for American Art distributed by University of Chicago Press, 2020). The chapter is the basis of a short book under contract with Cambridge University Press for publication in 2021, The Aftermath of Molyneux’s Question.
Period3 Mar 2020
Event title‘Theories of Perception and the Aesthetics of Landscape Painting in Britain, Australia and the United States,' : Perth Medieval and Renaissance Group
Event typeCommunity
LocationPerth, Australia, Western AustraliaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionLocal


  • Perception
  • Landscape Painting
  • John Locke
  • George Berkeley
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Hazlitt
  • Eugen von Guerard
  • Thomas Cole
  • Richard Wilson
  • America
  • Australia
  • Philosophy