The late 18th century and early 19th century is marked with revolution and change. This change was not restricted to just the political and economic landscape of that time, instead there was a large cultural response to the revolutionary ideas of the time. These cultural responses can be seen in the art of this time period. We will focus on one major artistic style of the era; and Romanticism. We will also briefly discuss Neoclassicism which preceded Romanticism. We will look at what these styles represented and the historical context which brought them about.
Neoclassicism began in Europe in the late 1700’s and lasted until the early 1800’s. The movement revived ancient Greek and Roman stylization in European art. Neoclassical art emphasized courage, sacrifice, nationalism, and tradition. Neoclassicism spread throughout Europe, but France and England were the countries that used neoclassical art the most. There are few reasons for the start of neoclassicism. The discovery of ancient artifacts at the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii was a big inspiration to neoclassicism. German art historian Johann J.
Winckelmann may have also helped develop the movement when he stated that the most important aspects of classical art were “noble simplicity and calm grandeur (Buser). ” Neoclassicism was also created to replace the ostentatious rococo art style. Neoclassicism was very important in France. The movement started as a rebellion against the rococo style, which symbolized French aristocracy. After the French Revolution, France became a democracy, putting an end to aristocratic rule. The new leaders of France wished to model the government on the high virtues and moral principles of classical Rome.
Therefore, neoclassical artists were commissioned to create paintings and sculptures that depicted inspirational scenes from Roman history. Some famous artists of this stylistic era include David, and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Beginning with the late 18th to the mid 19th century, new Romantic attitude begun to characterize culture and many art works in Western civilization. Romanticism has very little to do with things popularly thought of as “romantic,” although love may occasionally be the subject of Romantic art.
Rather, it is an international artistic and philosophical movement that redefined the fundamental ways in which people in Western cultures thought about themselves and about their world. Romanticism art was a reaction to the strict compositional art order developed by Jacques Louis David in the period of neoclassical painting (Brooklyn College). Those who followed this new thought had a desire to be free of the constraints in systematic thought. Emotion and imagination were put on a higher plane than reason.
In reaction to neoclassical rules established by the art paintings of David, artists gravitated to the new found freedom of emotional expression. Nature in its wild, unbounded state was a perfect match for the new style. To those painters following the new trend nature was irregular, a structure full of primitiveness and wild accidental happenings. Nature in the raw struck a nerve in the in these artists and stoked creative imaginations. Romanticism exalted individualism, subjectivism, irrationalism, imagination, emotions and nature – emotion over reason and senses over intellect (Brooklyn College).
They investigated human nature and personality, the folk culture, the national and ethnic origins, the medieval era, the exotic, the remote, the mysterious, the occult, the diseased, and even satanic. Romantic artist had a role of an ultimate egoistic creator, with the spirit above strict formal rules and traditional procedures. He had imagination as a gateway to transcendent experience and spiritual truth. Works Cited http://academic. brooklyn. cuny. edu/english/melani/cs6/rom. html (Brooklyn College) http://www. artchive. com/artchive/neo_classical. html (Buser)