Scenery or Landscape?

The term ‘landscape’ according to the OED was first used by Dutch painters in 1598 to describe pictoral representations of natural scenes on land.  It came from the original Dutch landschap which simply meant, an area of land.  It was initially translated as landskip:

‘In a table donne by Cæsar Sestius where hee had painted Landskipes.’

  R. Haydocke tr. G. P. Lomazzo Tracte Artes Paintinge iii. i. 94    1598  

It was not until the early 1700’s that the term as we know it today came into use to describe a view of physical topography.

‘Thus we coasted the shore, fully employed in the contemplation of this diversified landskip.’

B. Robins & R. Walter Voy. round World by Ansonii. i. 111   1748

Another definition of ‘landscape’ can describe it as a region which has distinguishing characteristics or features, regions which  Cheshire has in abundance. For example, the mid Cheshire Sandstone Ridge, the distinct moorland upland areas east of Macclesfield and the low lying salt flats of the Dee Estuary, to name a few.

The OED also notes that landscape has also come to mean a description of something in words:

‘To compare the Natural Face of the Country with the Landskips that the Poets have given us of it.

1705 J. Addison Remarks Italy Pref. sig. A4v,


‘the Cheshire Plains as a garden; Spread in peace beside the winding silvery river; Stretch’d right onto sea or soft blue hills in the distance’

Taken from ‘Edith or Love and Life in Cheshire‘ by Thomas Ashe published in 1873

How then does landscape differ to scenery?

For me, scenery is exactly that, a background, a scene, a view, against which events happen.

A landscape, however, is three dimensional; it surrounds us 360 degrees and we can interact with it, and it with us.  It is made up of layers, layers of time, and layers of events, which need to teased out for us to fully understand what we see before us.

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