Landscape Of The Soul Summary Class 11


 Landscape of the soul summary- CBSE NCERT Class 11th English Hornbill Book Chapter 4 Summary. This section contains a detailed summary of the story Landscape of the soul written by Nathalie Trouveroy. The story is derived from two different excerpts from very different sources.

The landscape of the soul is a short yet powerful story by Nathalie Trouveroy. The author has tried to take the readers on a trip to understand the art forms and the spirituality associated with them. She has divided the story into two different parts. In the first part of the story, the author draws a colossal contrast between the Chinese and European art forms. And the second part is from the Getting inside ‘Outsider art’ article. It is an excerpt from an article in The Hindustan Times that Brinda Suri penned.

‘Landscape of the soul’- Central Theme

The theme of the first part of the story is contrast. The author shows the readers how different the Chinese art form is, from the European art form. This difference has been depicted by the narration of two different Chinese classical legends and a European story. These stories tell us how European art is about the recreation of an actual view while Chinese art is about the creation of an abstract one.

‘Landscape of the soul’- Character Sketch

  • Wu Daozi- A Chinese painter who lived in the 8th century. He was the master of his art form and paints with his inner and spiritual voice.
  • Emperor Xuanzong- The Yang Emperor of the 8th century who was fond of landscapes and admired them, but only focused on their outer appearances rather than understanding their inner beauty.
  • Quinten Metsys- He was a master blacksmith who lived in the 15th century Antwerp. He was a gifted artist and later on became one of the most famous painters of his age.

‘Landscape of the soul’- Summary and Explanation


The chapter opens with the description of an 8th-century Chinese painter, Wu Daozi. The last painting, he ever made was a painting of a landscape. This painting was commissioned by the ruling Tang Emperor Xuanzong, to adorn one of his palace walls. The painter finally completed the painting. And the emperor was captivated by the huge mountains, dense forests, high waterfalls, clouds, birds, and the men on the hilly paths in the painting.

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While the Emperor was happily admiring the outer appearance of the painting, the painter tried to draw his attention to its inner beauty. So, he made the emperor notice the small cave at the foot of the huge mountain in which a spirit dwelled. He told the emperor to let him show the way in. Then he clapped his hands to open the cave, stepped inside it, and disappeared into it along with the entire painting. There was no trace left of the painting on the wall.

This Chinese legend is a very old tale that shows the knowledge possessed by the artists. The emperor may rule the vast lands of his conquered territories, but it was the artist who knew the true way within it. The painting is gone but the painter has reached his end goal which is beyond any material appearances.

Another Chinese classical story follows this one. It talks about a painter who was petrified to draw the eyes of the dragon that he had painted. He refused in the fear that the dragon, once he drew the eye, would become real and fly out of the painting. 

This proves to us the Chinese concept of not creating a realistic painting. The Chinese art form is not about the creation of an actual view.

These Chinese legends are contrasted in the chapter with a tale from native Flanders that represents the Western painting style. This tale is about a master blacksmith Quinten Metsys who lived in the 15th century Antwerp. He fell in love with the daughter of a painter, who would not accept a son-in-law in such a profession. This led Quinten to sneak into the painter’s studio and paint a fly on his latest panel. The painted fly looked so realistic that the painter tried to hit it before he realized it was a painting. The painter immediately accepted Quinten as his apprentice in his studio. He later carried on to become one of the most famous painters of his age. 

These anecdotes are largely evident of the disparity between the two cultures and their art. They illustrate what each form of art is trying to achieve in its way. While the European form aims for the perfect illusionistic likeness, the Chinese form aims for the essence of inner life and spirit.

All this boils down to the fact that a classical Chinese landscape is entirely dissimilar to a Western landscape. It is not a reproduction of an actual view but is rather an abstract piece. A Chinese painter allows the viewer the liberty to have his viewpoint and then assess the painting. Whereas a European painter has a viewpoint of his own and wishes for the viewer to borrow his viewpoint to assess his painting.


Finally, the second part of the chapter is Getting Inside ‘Outsider Art’ by Brinda Suri. It explains the concept of “Art brut” as used in the story. Art brut means ‘Raw Art’. It has been used to describe the art of those who have no right to be artists. This is because they have not acquired any kind of formal education or training but still possess some remarkable talent to show the world. The author has referred to such artists as the ones who think outside of the box and do not follow conventional standards. Their work is referred to as ‘primitive’ or ‘raw’. The Rock Garden by Nek Chand in Chandigarh is the greatest example of art brut.