William Gilpin

An artist and travel writer, William Gilpin gained great renown for his influential ‘Essay on Prints’. It expanded on the philosophies of the new, highly popular Romantic Tradition to the natural world, creating a new artistic and aesthetic movement that would become known as the Picturesque – one that could be defined as ‘that kind of beauty which is agreeable in a picture.’

In 1782 Gilpin laid out his philosophy in a book, Observations on the River Wye and several parts of South Wales, etc. relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty. Gilpin encouraged his readers to undertake ‘picturesque travel’ and discover beauty created solely by ‘Nature’. This, he explained, involved celebrating that which was considered unspoiled or created in harmony with the natural landscape.

Gilpin appears in the chapter, The Environmental Movement’s Romantic Past