The age of Romanticism began with the French Revolution in 1789 and ended with the First Reform Act in 1832. The biggest goal of the French Revolution was to bridge the divide between the upper class and the lower class by eliminating the ruling monarchy in France.
Liberty Leading the People by: Eugene Delacroix
With the French Revolution in full swing, the culture of this day was that of rebellion. The breaking of social norms, traditions, and customs were the aim of rebels, artists, writers, and musicians.
The Raft of the Medusa by: Theodore Gericault
Religion in this era was not nearly as prominent in the works of artists, musicians, or writers. Christianity, at this time held far less significant a grip on society thanks to the work of the Enlightenment.
The Nightmare by: Henry Fuseli
The painting The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli highlights darker elements than the works that came before it. Different from popular paintings of its days, The Nightmare has no "moralizing" subject (Moodle, Lesson on Romanticism). It is purely a product of Fuseli's imagination. The painting is one of the first to draw from nothing more than the psyche; not history, the Bible, nor literature (Moodle, Lesson on Romanticism). This speaks to the growing ideals of the age of romanticism. The French believed they could take down the monarchy that had oppressed them for years. They imagined a Free Republic.
Monk by the Sea by Caspar David Friedrich
Abbey in the Oakwood by: Caspar David Friedrich
The Monk by the Sea and its companion painting Abbey in the Oakwood, each painted by Caspar David Friedrich are said to be a muted political statement. At the time the paintings were finished, Prussia was being occupied by Napoleon's army. At this time no one would have been brave enough to openly slander Napoleon or his army, so instead artists began to let their art speak. In the Monk by the Sea, a monk stands on the edge of a shoreline looking out to a building storm over the water. Some speculate the monk is meant to look like a question mark. In the next painting Abbey in the Oakwood, there appears to be a funeral procession in progress. It is the common theme among art critics to believe that the paintings are indicative of the death of Queen Louise who before her death begged Napoleon to treat the Prussian people fairly. (Moodle, Lesson on Romanticism).
Friedrich's work is often depicted through dark, roaring landscapes a theme that was reflected in his childhood. Friedrich wasn't 13, when he witnessed the death of his mother, sister, and favorite brother. The emotion of the loss of three of the most important people in his life is eminent in his paintings, but perhaps more noticeable is his depiction of the power of God in nature. (Caspar David Friedrich)
Much like the artists of this time, the composers sought to throw away convention and predictability of the works before them. The composers of the Romantic period wanted to portray their feelings and emotions through their music. Imagination, was another key feature of this change (Piano Studio).
Franz Schubert, is considered to be one of the first great romantics. One particular work of his that is well known among the romantic era is Symphony No.5 in B flat major - Allegro. Schubert wrote this work when he was only 19. It is filled with "energy and brilliance (Music of the Romantic Era)." Despite his work being heavily influenced by classical composers such as Mozart, Schubert still managed to make his music his own (Music of the Romantic Era). His work consisted of varying melodies within each work, an ideal not recognized by composers before him (Music of the Romantic Era).
Perhaps, more well known to people today is the composer, Frederic Chopin. Chopin is mostly idolized for his exciting piano compositions. Unlike other composers who sought to "portray literary texts" through music (Music of the Romantic Era). His music was "pure" and "absolute (Music of the Romantic Era)." His waltzes are easily recognizable even today. Waltz in D flat, Op. 64 No. 1 ('Minute'), for example is one of his better known compositions. This particular waltz speeds up and slows down, an effort to keep people from dancing to it (Music of the Romantic Era).
Edgar Allen Poe, is perhaps one of the most well known authors in history. He is also one of the most influential romantic writers of his time. Similar to artist Caspar David Friedrich, Poe's life was subject to tragedy early on, and his work greatly reflected that. Poe, seemed to be preoccupied by death making it the subject of many of his works (The Raven). One of his most popular poems, The Raven encompasses the ideals of the Romantic era, in that it is drawn from imagination. The subject in the poem opens his window, and a raven flies in. Instead of shooing the bird out, he decides to talk to it. The Raven answers back, but only with one word "nevermore." Eventually the man's questions become more harrowing, and the Raven continues to answer "nevermore (The Raven)."
The movement that took place before the Romantic era is called the Neoclassic era. This movement was inspired by Ancient Greece and Rome (Difference). Neoclassicism, focused on logic and reason (Difference). While Romantics drew from the Enlightenment and the Industrialization Revolution (Difference). Romantics sought to achieve the exact opposite of logic and reason: imagination, emotions, and "self experience (Difference)."
Romanticism laid the ground work for the following movement: realism. Realism sought to completely toss out the ideals of romanticism. No more would emotion and drama take over an art piece. Instead, artists painted subjects exactly how they appeared to the artist. There was no room for emotion (Realism Art Movement).
The Romantic era came at a time of revolution and big changes in the world. Researching it has brought to the surface a lot of interesting pieces of history and historical ideas I was not aware of previous to this class. The first compelling piece of information I learned is that the Romantic era and the artists, musicians, and writers who took part in it, was so much more than what the name suggests. The Romantic era and its counterparts threw away the conventions of logic, reason, and the tight boundaries from the movement before it. It allowed for expression that was limitless, literally the only set boundary was an individual's imagination. In a time so early as the 1800s, it is cool to see that even though society was conventionally uptight, the arts didn't have to be.
The second compelling piece of information I learned was that the era of Romanticism was a new beginning for a lot of people. The French Revolution was in full swing when this age appeared. While the French fought for freedom against an oppressing monarchy and perhaps a more stifling society, people began to dare to dream for something bigger, something better.
Lastly, Romanticism set the stage for a whole new era. The next era to follow Romanticism was Realism. This switch from imagination to reality is symbolic of the switch for the underclass Frenchmen from imagining freedom to actually realizing it.
"Caspar David Friedrich." Artble. N.p., 2015. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.
"Difference Between Neoclassicism and Romanticism." Difference Between. N.p., 2015. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.
Duong, Judy. "Realism Art Movement." YouTube. YouTube, 2015. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.
"Music of the Romantic Era - Washington State University." N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.
"Piano Studio of Martin E. Kabule." Music History - The Romantic Period - Piano Studio of Martin E. Kauble, NCTM. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Raven Analysis." Shmoop. Shmoop University, 2008. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.