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Romanticism Visual Art Essay

1036 words - 5 pages

Romanticism was an art movement that developed in the late eighteenth century and lasted for about one hundred years. Romanticism is a rejection of the traditional values of reason, order, and objectivity that characterized Classicism and Enlightenment, in particular Neoclassicism. For the romantic artist, Neoclassical principles hindered the artist’s vision and creativity. Rather, the romantic artist emphasized and valued intuition, juxtaposing emotions, and imagination. Generally, Britain and Germany were seen at the forefront of romanticism. The British Industrial Revolution initiated a disillusionment in rationalism and materialism, consequently rejecting classicism.
French Romanticism ...view middle of the document...

Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault, another exponent of French Romanticism, shows the scandal and horror of human rights and not of patriotic death. The painting presents the moment when survivors are signaling a ship in the distance. Contrast describes this paintings. For example, the painting exhibits the spectrum of emotion as it crescendos in optimism from lower left to the man signaling the ship. Contrast in light rather than color paints a melancholy scene. Again no heroic cause to give life for someone. The painting forces the viewer to ponder on the cruelty of man versus man and man versus nature.
German romantic painting is considered more modern language than French romantic painting since it discards both the classical rules and iconography, symbols that represent ideas. Also, German Romanticism embraces nature as a muse for landscape painting. Caspar David Friedrich’s Monk by the Sea is an example of landscape painting. Since the figure represents a monk, the viewer begins to question spirituality. Friedrich uses nature to convey his message of nature’s sublimity—the awe of the grandeur, power, and terror of nature. During the Industrial Revolution man controls, but here Friedrich is conveying the overwhelm aspect of nature by juxtaposing nature’s vastness versus the smallness and powerlessness of man. Friedrich’s Abbey among Oak Trees is another landscape painting; it is also a pair with Monk by the Sea. Abbey among Oak Trees makes Friedrich’s message clearer and frightening. This painting is portraying a funeral procession which illustrates the transience and powerlessness of human life. Even human creation is transient compared to nature. For example the abbey of medieval gothic architecture is being overtaken by nature. There is a sense of human time in the funeral procession, nature’s times in the trees, and of God’s space and time in the sky and moon. Also by Friedrich, Arctic Shipwreck shows nature’s sublimity and uncontrollable manner. Furthermore, he is clearly suggesting nature divine power with a halo above the shipwreck. Unlike French Romantic figure painting, German romantic artist employed nature to convey meanings which lead to landscape painting.
For the British romantics, Britain's Industrial...

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