Through out the course of the 19th century, Europe witnessed revolutions, radical political changes, and industrial advancements, which had an impact on shaping the art and culture of this time. By examining literature, art, and cultural changes of the 19th century, historians can provide a different perspective of the events that took place.
At the start of the 19th century, Napoleon was defeated along with his militaristic agenda, and Europe now entered many new phases of social reform. Industrialization had slowly provided much of Europe a new means of production and architecture. Artwork during this era reflected the new technology in paintings often depicting men, women, and even children working in factories. In an engraving by Gustave Dore’ there is a somber tone to the perpetual grayness, and seemingly endless rows of housing that flow towards the distant smokestacks that were prominent during the mid-nineteenth century.
Urban population was growing in an attempt to be closer to the jobs provided by new industries. Despite the new technology the rise in population added to unemployment pressures along with a housing crisis in France and Germany. The standard of living for most workers was very poor, and this is portrayed in a painting by J. Leonard titled The Doctor for the Poor. The scene shows a destitute line of working class individuals waiting to see the doctor in an office that is dimly lit by natural light.
In contrast to artwork depicting the cultural challenges of the working class, Romanticism portrayed artist’s need to escape the reality of cramped urban society in an industrial age. Romantics such as Wodsworth, Schlegel, Chopin, Goya, and Delacroix illustrated their interests in religion and Nationalism as well as their distaste for materialism in mediums like painting, literature, music, and plays.
The revolutions of 1830 and 1848 sparked a steady stream of political artwork showing scenes of battle and rebellious uprising. Eugene Delacroix’s portrait of Liberty Leading the People, 29 July 1830 reflects the events of the French banded together from varying classes in battle following a bare breasted Liberty. Ernest Meissonier’s painting The Barricade in Rue Mortellerie, Paris, June 1848 is a sad image of a drab Parisian street with dead revolutionaries as a result of social class fighting.
The mid 19th century brought about a resurgence of art that was less restrictive and available to all who were interested. The middle class and Bourgeoisie, especially in France were active in the art community. Printing became main-stream and newspapers were now a big part of European culture. Writers such as Charles Dickens had another outlet at...