Essay about Characteristics of Romanticism in the History of Art.

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Characteristics of Romanticism in the History of Art.

To characterise Romanticism within the fine arts one must
consider the historical background from which this movement
manifested, as it plays such an influential role in the Romantic
artist's development of subject matter and style. The movement itself
began around the beginning of the 19th century, and is often dated
1775 – 1830 it is important to note that this was a period of change
and revolution in human rights, and the main countries this movement
manifested in were Germany, Britain and in France during the French
Revolution of 1789. This political and cultural revolution had a major
affect on all of the arts as well as the visual arts; as artists began
to revolt against Neo-Classical and academic traditions and look
inwards into their own experience and imagination. Imagination is one
of the most prominent themes in the Romantic Movement as artists began
to direct their attention towards subjects other than the rigid
definitions of genres within the academic world of painting, and also
to the simplicity of the Medieval artists. Instead, artists turned to
literature (especially poetry), political and historical events as
well as individual and imaginative styles of depicting this subject
matter. This essay will aim to highlight and describe the
manifestation of these themes, within this period, through the
observation of the artist's work that is linked to the Movement.

The artists of the Romantic Movement, as suggested, no longer
wanted to be constrained to the proscribed theories and practices of
the Academies; who thought that everything that needed to be learned
could be done so by observing the Roman Masters, and wished to create
their own imaginative responses equalizing them with the authors and
poets of the Romantic Literary Movement. One form of imaginative
response, which manifested in this change of thinking about the visual
arts, was the way in which many of these artists looked towards
literature for inspiration; in effect creating paintings that depicted
a new manner of pictorial narrating. One artist who combined these
themes of literature and the visual arts, producing visions in the
vein of poetic imagery was William Blake (1757-1827). These
connections are especially distinct in paintings such as "The Ancient
of Days" completed in 1794 as a vi...

... middle of paper ...

...ation of the
myth. The composition of this painting is reminiscent of Géricault's
"The Raft of the Medusa" through the unusual use of the pyramidal
structure and also the way in which the bodies are splayed about the
painting communicating the chaos of the event; the evil king at the
tip of the apex leads the viewers eye straight to the cause of all
this suffering, it is suggested that the painting also influenced
Delacroix. Delacroix himself wrote that Byron's poetry "awoke in him
the insatiable desire to create" summing up the general mood in which
the Romantics felt free to trust their own creativity and talents
after the age of the Revolution.

The two key topics to consider when defining Romanticism are both
its themes and its dates. Romantic elements include themes that link
to nature and the natural, exploring human psychology through the
study of the individual and the natural order of the world. The visual
images that manifested from these subjects included an equally
powerful depiction of nature versus man, the forgotten suffering of
historical events, indeed most subjects that had a strong impression
and emotional influence on the artist's imagination.

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