The natural landscape has fascinated artists for centuries. Landscape painting, reflecting this interest, is an important category in western art. It includes an interest in both unspoiled natural settings and the countryside. Artists, as well as writers and composers, have been drawn to the pleasures and beauty of nature as a counterbalance to the tensions of the modern city that may rob people of their full humanity. The landscape artist sees personal contact with nature as a way to refresh the spirit and regain contact with a greater scheme of things. Nature contains moral and spiritual truths, providing a nurturing cradle for human activity.
The notion of nature has also come to include animals as subject—as an expression of nature's purity and also as mediators between humanity and the natural world.