The Influential Romantic: Delacroix Essay

899 words - 4 pages

The Metropolitan Museum of Art houses thousands of paintings that preserve the rich cultures of some the most influential historical movements. Romanticism was one of the most profound artistic movements. As a response to the Enlightenment, Romanticism emerged as an artistic movement that validated the experience of intense emotion—with a particular emphasize on the compelling forces of nature and the sublime. (In examining excerpts from The Sublime and The Beautiful, a work by Edmund Burke, one can define the sublime as excitement, pain, fear, horror, or terror). Artists of the Romantic Movement were obligated to encourage their audience to indulge in an array of emotions and to relish ...view middle of the document...

The Natchez is an embodiment of just that. This painting was inspired by a scene from the Romantic novel Atala, which “narrates the fate of the Natchez tribe in the wake of the French and Indian War” (Gallery Label of The Natchez). Delacroix describes the painting as two young “savages” fleeing the massacre of their tribe. He provides us with the context of the painting: “During the voyage, the woman was taken by pain of labor. The moment is that when the father holds the newborn in his hands, and both regard him tenderly” (Gallery Label of The Natchez). The context of this painting is Romantic because in the midst of the fear inducing moment this young couple experiences as they flee for their lives, the woman goes into labor.
Although the main focus of the painting is the couple featured in the foreground, there are other Romantic elements embedded throughout the painting. The couple is nested in what appears to be a beachfront, as I see a body of water, a boat, sand, and patches of greenery. In the background, I observe gray storm clouds rolling over crashing waves. It appears as though a storm is passing. I can see peaks of orange, pink, and light blue, which may be indicative of a peaceful sunset. Delacroix uses loose brush strokes, oil paints on a canvas, and a pallet of colors found in nature to emphasize the Romantic elements of this work. The shades of grey, which he uses to depict storm clouds, one of nature’s uncontrollable forces; the blending of darker shades of blue into shades of green, which he uses to depict a roaring ocean, another mystical wonder of nature; and the...

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