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Man And The Landscape

MOST of the earth is beyond the walls of buildings, and is untouched in appearance by the art of the sculptor or the painter.

Yet the beauty of this outdoor world has an importance to man of the same sort as the beauty upon which his highest effort has been lavished in the arts of architecture and painting and sculpture.  No one but a prisoner in a windowless house can escape being influenced by the beauty or ugliness of his outdoor surroundings.

The appearance of the land and objects upon it, the effect upon the eye of their infinitely various and changing forms and colors and relationships, seen in connection with the sky and all that it contains, is what we call landscape.  The meaning of the word is well brought out in Hamerton's phrase, that land belongs to its owners but the landscape belongs to him who beholds it.  In this broad sense, the "landscape" of the world includes every sort of outdoor scene, — in mid-ocean, in the heart of the city, or in the depths of the country.

Whether we know it or not, whether we wish it or not, the landscape of the world, amidst which we live and move and work and play, continually affects the state of our nerves and our state of mind — in short, affects our happiness — by its beauty or its ugliness, by its infinite varieties of character.

— Frederick Law Olmsted  


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