Simon Schama explores the history of landscapes and reveals that paintings of nature are rarely a depiction of the way the world is, but how we would like it to be – a projection of our dreams or an escape from human anarchy wrought by man.

Simon’s journey begins in 10th-century China, where artists depicted a land protected by immense mountains representing imperial authority.

But it was in Europe several centuries later that landscapes came into their own as an art form.

German artists such as Albrecht Altdorfer painted pictures of dark forests full of disguised religious symbolism, while Dutch painters packed their landscapes with people to reflect
the labours of the seasons.