Romanticism – Introduction

Hi everyone and welcome back! Today we are going to explore a stunning artistic movement characterized by the emphasis on emotions: Romanticism. Romanticism – Introduction

Now before I lose most of the guys that are reading this post (JK 😉 ), let me say that, despite the name, it is not a style based on cheesy love. Actually, the artists wanted to represent the pure natural and instinctive emotions. Both in the “good” and “bad” dimensions. That means we are going to find a lot of surprises!

Let’s go by order because it is important to understand how we got there.

How Romanticism started

You know that my goal is to focus on Visual Arts. But it is important to say that Romanticism was an artistic movement, as well as musical and intellectual, originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century. And it lasted until 1850-1890 (based on the areas).

Actually the intellectual part has been the main engine of the movement. The reason was a reaction to all components of modernity: the new rules of the Age of Enlightenment, the scientific rationalization of nature and the big impact of the Industrial Revolution.

Industrial Revolution illustration

The rationalization of anything, from nature to people’s lives, and the mechanization pushed by innovation made the individual to be just a part of a “common interest” more than pursue his happiness. Romanticism – Introduction

The Industrial Revolution was the apex of that time with the man almost unable to make a difference as one in the society, but only as part of a community designed by politicians and intellectuals.

Rationalism vs Emotions Romanticism – Introduction

Romantics decided to break that trend emphasizing intense emotions as awe, apprehension, powerlessness, horror, terror… that beauty and nature were able to inspire. These feelings were not necessary violent or negative, but mostly a step back to the deeper instinctive men’s dimension instead of the “forced” rationalization of the society. The concept was called sublime. It is the feeling we have when we are looking at something with a greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement or imitation. Usually the nature is able to do that: high mountains, volcanoes, storms,… we feel awed and powerless, but we are fascinated by that.

Wanderer Above the sea of Fog, Caspar David Friedrich

The individual Romanticism – Introduction

This fracture from the Enlightenment started in 1760-1780 with the German Sturm und Drang movement: a new literature and music style which preferred intuition and emotion to rationalism. The emotions exploded with the French Revolution in 1789 when the violent social change pushed another important Romantic feature: the individual’s role.

Liberty Leading the People, Eugene Delacroix - Romanticism
Liberty Leading the People, Eugene Delacroix

Men understood that they were able to make a difference, in the society as well in art. Romanticism assigned a high value to the achievements of “heroic” individualists and artists. From that moment, artists started to be aware that they were able, and “free”, to use their skills to paint with a high emotional impact. To do that they mixed the sublime of the nature with subjects capable of pushing powerful feelings.

We are going to explore some amazing works of art in the next posts understanding both their beauty and impact in the art history. And you will see how they are everything except “predictable” cheesy love paintings 😉

Stay curious and see you soon! Romanticism – Introduction

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