Romanticism – The History
The era of Romanticism in art lasted for about half a century, spanning late eighteenth century to the mid nineteenth century. At this time, industrialization was taking roots and had become all-pervasive shaping the socio-political scene as well. In a way, the Romantics revolted against the scientific treatment of every aspect of life. They argued that science is such a bare realistic way of looking at things that steals away the beauty of living. Romanticism was characterized by a strong emotional undertone in all the creations, where the emphasis was more on the Symbolic representation of moods.
Romanticism broke free from the artistic stereotypes of its predecessors and delved into the realms of imagination. The following are some key Romantic milestone works:
o Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix – It is one of the most comprehensive examples of Romanticism. The scene is set in the time of French Revolution, where Freedom (‘Liberty’) is personified as a woman, holding the flag of France. She marches ahead with gusto, over the dead and her opposition right towards the viewer. The gestures and gait are so powerful that they carry the viewer along itself, to that defining moment.
o The Third of May 1808 by Francisco Goya – This is another remarkable painting of the time and a strongly representational work. This frame captures the scene of Spanish genocide by the army of Napoleon Bonaparte, in May 1808. This historical event was a result of Spanish resilience against Napoleon’s insurgence on their territory. This piece features two sections of people, the army, and the Spanish population. The gesture of the man in the center portrays the defiance of the people and their willingness to sacrifice for their freedom. The lamp in the centre and the positioning of the soldiers, highlight the Spanish man willing to die, rather than to surrender.
o The Voyage of Life by Thomas Cole – This four piece series is an artistic rendezvous with the philosophy of life. Each of these paintings represents a different stage of the life of a man (human), always guided by the Guardian Angle. This human being is travelling in an ornate boat in the waters, symbolizing life. The greenery indicates the honesty, innocence, and the protection of childhood. The enthusiasm of young age is depicted in the second piece, where the lad steers his boat towards the wider, greener landscapes. The dangers of adulthood are symbolized by a massive whirlpool in the waters. Similarly, the evil influences are indicated by the dark clouds overhead, in the third piece. The fourth piece shows a tired old man ready to exit, in the still waters that indicate calmness and inaction towards the end of life.
A study of Romanticism reveals the true spirit of art and imagination captured in its captivating works. This genre could distinguish itself through its strength of articulation without resorting to any innovative techniques of creation. This era witnessed some of the most talented artists of all times, whose works became monumental of human expressions.
Romanticism – The History