I think you may enjoy Roberta Smith's article in today's New York Times, "Curator Tear Down These Walls," which argues for the integration of pre-twentieth century folk landscape paintings into the display of more stylized, high-brow landscapes. But, hey, legal historians have been studying the two genres side-by-side (as if there were not difference between them) for a while. Or, perhaps I should say, pre-Civil War landscape art of all types reflected the ideas and aspirations of the ownership of -- and dominion over -- property.
I was thinking about how landscape art reflected the pre-war concern with dominion over the land as I was reading Steven Brown's charming new volume on Supreme Court Justice John McKinley. While in the Senate, McKinley stood up for the rights of squatters who'd improved public land and then sought title to them. As Brown points out, "the very improvements wrought by squatters that gave 'purpose to the soil' also made the land much more valuable. Consequently, squatters on public lands often faced the worst possible combination of circumstances: they had cleared the land, built their homes and barns, established their crops, and then found out that the land they had improved was now too valuable for them to purchase at public sale." The image of property conveys well the work that squatters -- and other settlers -- did to clear the land and links the law to those practices.
The image of "Lake George and the Village of Caldwell" is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum. It's one of the illustrations of the Times article, though I think I might have used something from, oh, American Scenery.