The bottom painting shows the connecting gully/dirt "road" between two corn fields that I did last week. The top painting is today's looking into the woods. Both are small oils.
I have been reading Gustave Courbet by Sarah Faunce, and didn't realize the radical origins of pure landscape painting. In her explanation of why Courbet selected to show himself painting a landscape in his large allegorical painting, The Painter's Studio, she discusses how the emerging landscape artists, such as Corot, Valenciennes, and others were suspect because "landscape as an independent genre"...went "against the conventional belief that only figure painting mattered." She writes, "Conservative critics...lost no time in linking the spontaniety and personal freedom implied in the painting of landscape to social and political subversion. The notion that meaning could be found in any corner of nature made nonsense of the prevailing belief in a hierarchy of subject matter. Against these received ideas the painters of pure landscape had to find their way to construct a new kind of meaning out of their own direct experience of nature."
Landscape painting has come a long way in a short amount of time, and then maybe not so far after all.