In the second half of the 19th century, naturalists and realists were involved in a careful observation of the world around them. In their paintings, they strove to achieve an almost scientifically objective representation of reality. For some artists, this became a kind of ode to the world as perceptible through the human senses.But other painters, the ones whose work we will be going into here, turned away, so to speak, from the banality of the everyday world. They put their soul into their art, in which they sought to express their highly personal attitude and emotions. In their hands, landscapes were no longer simple representations, but became projections; they are 'landscapes of the soul'. That explains why human figures are so often absent from their pictures and why many of their landscapes give the impression of being enclosed. These painters were Symbolists, who held a lofty ideal: art was to transcend the superficial and the visual. To suggest this transcendence, the Symbolists often turned to other techniques. They used pencil and crayon drawings, pastels, watercolours, etc.
The second half of the 19th century was also the heyday of Impressionism in France, with painters such as Claude Monet, Edouard Manet en Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Their primary goal was to capture and recreate a visual sensation on the canvas, however brief the 'impression': a change of light, a gust of wind over the fields, a stripe of sunlight... At the salons held in the large cities, where the 'heartbeat' of art was 'measured', there were intense discussions and a few scandals when painters exhibited 'unprecedented' work. Especially the Paris Salon was a gauge of new developments.The distinction between Symbolists and Impressionists seems to indicate a rift, but some artists tried to reconcile the two in their work and unite 'loftiness' with 'tangibility' and 'inner being' with 'the things'.