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19Th Century Art Essay, Research Paper

19th Century Art

The Romantic Movement


Art as Emotion

The goal of self-determination that Napoleon imported to Holland, Italy,

Germany and Austria affected not only nations but also individuals. England’s

metamorphosis during the Industrial Revolution was also reflected in the

outlook of the individual, and therefore in the art produced during the first half

of this century. Heightened sensibility and intensified feeling became

characteristic of the visual arts as well as musical arts and a convention in


Exposing Rationalism

Romanticism in Landscape

This tendency toward images of impassioned or poignant feeling cut across all

national boundaries. Romanticism, as this movement became known, reflects the

movement of writers, musicians, painters, and sculptors away from rationalism

toward the more subjective side of human experience. Feeling became both the

subject and object of art.

Conscious of being propelled into the future, Europe began to take a long and

wistful look at the past and embarked on a series of revivals. Classicism,

which had gone in and out of style at regular intervals, was joined with revivals

of Gothic art, Egyptian art, and the art of the Renaissance.

The Classical Tradition

By the mid-nineteenth century,much of Europe had become industrialized, and the generation of artists who had inaugurated the Romantic movement were dead.

But much of the romantic spirit lived on. In their emphasis on individual genius and subjective experience, arts of the Romantic era handed future generations the

basis for their own developement and provided a point of view that coloured their understanding of the past.

Characteristics of Romanticism

Resulting in part from the libertarian and egalitarian ideals of the French Revolution, the romantic movements had in common only a revolt against the prescribed rules of classicism. The basic aims of romanticism were various: a return to nature and to belief in the goodness of humanity; the rediscovery of the artist as a supremely individual creator; the development of nationalistic pride; and the exaltation of the senses and emotions over reason and intellect. In addition, romanticism was a philosophical revolt against rationalism.

Romanticism in the Visual Arts

In the visual arts romanticism is used to refer loosely to a trend that appears at any time, and specifically to the art of the early 19th cent. Nineteenth-century romanticism was characterized by the avoidance of classical forms and rules, emphasis on the

emotional and spiritual, representation of the unattainable ideal,nostalgia for the grace of past ages, and a predilection for exotic themes.

Romantic artists developed precise techniques in order to produce specific associations in the mind of the viewer. To convey verbal concepts they would, for example, endow inanimate objects with human values (e.g., the wild trees and shimmery moonlight used in the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich to suggest an infinity of human longing, the weltschmerz of his time). The result was often sentimental or ludicrous. In the case of Delacroix, however, his painterly style and color sense exalted the romantic attitude in a singularly effective fashion.

In England landscape gardening was used to express the

romantic aesthetic by means of deliberate imitation of the

picturesque in nature. In architecture Wyatt’s preposterous,

mock medieval Fonthill Abbey displayed the romantic building

style in extreme form. The host of lesser artists of the romantic

tradition included the French G?ricault, the Swiss-English Henry

Fuseli, the Swiss Arnold B?cklin, the English Pre-Raphaelites, the

German Nazarenes, and the American artists of the Hudson

River school.


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