Becoming Modern By: Tim Meyers

Historical context

Many revolutions spread throughout Europe during the mid 1800s that pushed art, science, and literature to be "modernized." For example, the romantic movement started to stray away from portraying only the rich and important people in art and started to paint pictures of everyday occurrences that had tremendous realism. Science started to stray away from the teachings of the church and trail blazed their own achievements. And in literature, much like art started to follow the same path with characterizing everyday people.


Romanticism was a movement that stemmed out of Europe in the mid 1800s that focused on emotion, tradition, and a love of nature. This is emphasized through the artwork that portrayed various nostalgic scenes and paintings that symbolized the change for the worse that society was experiencing.

J. M. W. Turner

J. M. W. Turner's "The Fighting Temeraire" is a perfect example of the nostalgia part of the Romantic theme. The painting shows an old ship being towed in by a tug boat. This portrays the traditional times that the Romantic artists feel nostalgic about being replaced by the modernity which is symbolized by the dark tug boat.

Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture: Many of the themes that made pre-romantic music was the calming tone of soft instruments. For example the song that played at the ball in the clip of Harry Potter seemed like music that suited more the dancing, ballroom style. Many of the styles of the pre- romantic era are still present in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, for example, the first seven minutes are very telling of themes past. However once the song reaches eight minutes it starts to transition into a romanticized song. The themes that the song has that makes it Romantic is the booming of the drums and very ominous sounds made by percussion instruments.

Mary Shelley

In her novel, Mary Shelley, uses many Romantic beliefs such as very emotional characters and the extreme portrayal of nature and the real power of nature. For example, Frankenstein is lifted up into a rainstorm to be struck by a bolt of lightening wich gives him life. It symbolizes how nature gives us life as well and without it we cannot live.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin was the one of the Church, hierarchical order, and traditional human behavior. Darwin's theory of evolution claimed that humans sole purpose was to continue the species. his was proved in his natural selection theory which claimed that only the strongest of the humans would survive and reproduce.

The Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens novel "The Tale of Two Cities" describes the effects of the French Revolution on the poor citizens in the cities of London and Paris. Dickens's novel reflected the realistic principles by portraying the struggles of the characters and the development of the plot. The characters reflect the popular theme of realism that many authors liked to employ in their stories. The story reveals the real struggles that the poor were actually going through to gain their freedom from a tyrannical government.

The Gleaners

In his painting, Jean-Francois Millet incorporated much of the same style as Charles Dickens. Millet chose to portray three women toiling in a field. Like Dickens he went against Romantic principles to paint a realistic picture. Most romantic portraits at the time were showing people that were happy and carefree. But his painting is quite the opposite as it shows the other side of society.


Sigmund Freud started the theory of psychoanalysis. He believed that the problems people had in life were stemmed out of their childhood and the by studying the unconscious mind one could find out where the problems came from and the best way to solve them.

The Dance Class

The impressionist movement in art was classified by its light filled canvas and its lively atmosphere. The painting perfectly encompasses the impressionistic movement due to the lively dancing and the light streaming in from seemingly all sides of the painting.

The Bedroom

Unlike impressionism, a style began to emerge in France that incorporated artists painting images that depicted everyday life and using thick paint to create vivid color schemes. Van Gogh was a master at the post impressionistic stye because he excelled at depicting everyday scenes with great accuracy and vividness in color.


Created with images by sammydavisdog - "Miss Hazel comes into dock"

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