In modern usage Picturesque = quaint, a meaning having almost nothing in common with the eighteenth century use of the term.
(Hubert de Cronin Hastings, The Architectural Review, 19441)
Looking at the world as if it were a picture is a relatively recent activity. The practice adopted the word 'picturesque' from the language of painting in the eighteenth century, and the possibilities of pictorial vision underlie much subsequent thought on nature, landscape, buildings and urban form. Today, understanding experience through images is ubiquitous and its accompanying technology so sophisticated that the term 'picturesque', which once meant a radical blurring of art and life, is frequently used as a synonym for aesthetic failure, trivial cultural products and naïve tastes. This popular understanding is consistent with a bifurcation in academic study of the picturesque, where it is generally understood in two ways that are mildly contradictory. 'The picturesque' is said to have been of value in its time, but in its present usage, is seen as a pathological remnant. It is as if we are speaking of two concepts: an eighteenth-century picturesque theory and practice that is valued; and the historical consequences of this in popular practices and tastes that become less worthy the further they are removed from an original theory and historical circumstance.