If there's a middle ground where the particular and the ideal, 'topography and idyll', exist in harmony - and I'm not saying there is, but just suppose - then Rubens' 'Autumn Landscape with a View of Het Steen in the Early Morning' might occupy it.
This image depicts a specific place, Rubens' own house set in recognisably Lowlands countryside. Yet the 19th Century Royal Academician Fuseli, otherwise so ready to despise 'the tame delineation of a given spot... what is commonly called views,' lifts Rubens above his contempt. So the artist must have done more than show us what his neighbourhood looked like. He has idealised it, but not at the expense of the particular.
Malcolm Andrews takes pains to explain how the palette and structure of the painting skillfully replace classicist tropes with characteristically local techniques. He summarises this technical insight neatly: 'Rubens's topography is mapped in the vernacular'. But more fundamentally Andrews identifies how Rubens achieves his idealisation of the landscape (thus avoiding Fuseli's opprobrium): 'Het Steen represents for Rubens a set of values... and it is that set of values, not just a pictorial estate map, that is transmitted in the painting.' This is really significant. If I'm tempted, even a little bit, to agree that 'mere portraiture of place' (see previous post) is not enough - I'm not saying that I am, but it's a thought worth entertaining - here is a clue to what must be added. Values.
What that might mean now is not obvious.
Andrews indicates what it meant for Rubens:
'...in terms of technique, as well as in the choice of motifs for his landscape, Rubens is underscoring the local, national identity. For this well-travelled, well-read man of the world his home is not just the sheltered manor house; it is the opportunity to inhabit an idea that is both inseparable from a particular place and yet larger than any particular place can embody.'