The Romantic Period is a movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century partly as a reaction to the industrial revolution. It was influenced through the ideas of Enlightenment, mainly its criticism of aristocratic social and political norms. Yet, it rebelled against the scientific rationalization of nature. It is associated with liberalism and radicalism and prepared the soil for nationalism.

Strong emotions (trepidation, horror and terror, awe esp. of untamed nature), intuition and spontaneity were made out as authentic source of aesthetic experience. Folk art, medievalism and ancient customs were elevated and seen as something noble. By this the Romantics tried to escape the confines of population growth, urban sprawl and industrialization and to embrace the exotic, unfamiliar and distant and/or past. The power of imagination is discovered to envision and flee from modern realities.

Romanticism elevated heroic individualists and artists, whose example could, according to their opinion, change society for the better. Thus, Romanticism endorsed the individual imagination and idea as a critical authority that is as legit as the rule of the church or the king or tradition. This freed the arts for classical notions of form and ploughed the path for modern ideas in politics.

Romantic values in visual arts: expression of the artist’s feelings and his personal imaginative world, freer handling of paint, emphasis on prominence of brushstrokes and impasto, wild landscapes and storms, large apocalyptic history paintings, “noble savage”, mystical ideas

Important artists: JMW Turner, Caspar David Friedrich, John Constable, William Blake, Girodet, Eugene Delacroix, Francisco Goya, Francesco Hayez, Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Edwin Church

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