Romanticism Our World through the Eyes of the Romantics

Romanticism

Defining the nature of Romanticism may be approached from the starting point of the primary importance of the free expression of the feelings of the artist. The importance the Romantics placed on emotion is summed up in the remark of the German painter Caspar David Friedrich that "the artist's feeling is his law".[9] To William Wordsworth, poetry should begin as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings," which the poet then "recollect[s] in tranquility," evoking a new but corresponding emotion the poet can then mould into art.[10] To express these feelings, it was considered that the content of the art had to come from the imagination of the artist, with as little interference as possible from "artificial" rules that dictated what a work should consist of. Samuel Taylor Coleridge and others believed there were natural laws that the imagination—at least of a good creative artist—would unconsciously follow through artistic inspiration if left alone.[11] As well as rules, the influence of models from other works was considered to impede the creator's own imagination, so that originality was essential. The concept of the genius, or artist who was able to produce his own original work through this process of creation from nothingness, is key to Romanticism, and to be derivative was the worst sin.[12][13][14] This idea is often called "romantic originality."[15]

Walter Scott in 1822

Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet, FRSE (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832) was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright and poet with many contemporary readers in Europe, Australia, and North America.

Scott's novels and poetry are still read, and many of his works remain classics of both English-language literature and of Scottish literature. Famous titles include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Old Mortality, The Lady of the Lake, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian and The Bride of Lammermoor.

Although primarily remembered for his extensive literary works and his political engagement, Scott was an advocate, judge and legal administrator by profession, and throughout his career combined his writing and editing work with his daily occupation as Clerk of Session and Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire.

A prominent member of the Tory establishment in Edinburgh, Scott was an active member of the Highland Society and served a long term as President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1820–32).

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog

Caspar David Friedreich

n the foreground, a young man stands upon a rocky precipice with his back to the viewer. He is wrapped in a dark green overcoat, and grips a walking stick in his right hand.[3] His hair caught in a wind, the wanderer gazes out on a landscape covered in a thick sea of fog. In the middle ground, several other ridges, perhaps not unlike the ones the wanderer himself stands upon, jut out from the mass.[4] Through the wreaths of fog, forests of trees can be perceived atop these escarpments. In the far distance, faded mountains rise in the left, gently levelling off into lowland plains in the east. Beyond here, the pervading fog stretches out indefinitely, eventually commingling with the horizon and becoming indistinguishable from the cloud-filled sky.[3]

The painting is composed of various elements from the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Saxony and Bohemia, sketched in the field but in accordance with his usual practice, rearranged by Friedrich himself in the studio for the painting. In the background to the right is the Zirkelstein. The mountain in the background to the left could be either the Rosenberg or the Kaltenberg. The group of rocks in front of it represent the Gamrig near Rathen. The rocks on which the traveller stands are a group on the Kaiserkrone.[5]

Credits:

Created with images by Phil Sellens - "John Keats 1795-1821" • Modern Relics - "Walter Scott Looks On" • Ryan Vaarsi - "Unabashed romanticism" • Trondheim byarkiv - "Johan Christian Dahl (1788 - 1857)" • Abode of Chaos - "Van Gogh / Baudelaire painted portraits _DDC0128" • Abode of Chaos - "Charles Baudelaire painted portrait _DDC0083" • Abode of Chaos - "Charles Baudelaire painted portrait _DDC0079" • dbking - "Robert Emmet"

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