What is romanticism?
Romanticism is an artistic and intellectual movement that took place towards the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century in England, Germany and France, and then spread throughout the world.
A deep social and ideological crisis took place in Europe and, with it, the idea was unleashed that reason was not enough to explain this harsh reality. Romanticism emerged as a movement to oppose neoclassical rationalism.
Romanticism was a very diverse current because it emphasized subjectivity and emotions. It manifested itself as a break from the principles of the Enlightenment (which held reason as the basis of all knowledge ), and exalted the freedom of the individual and his intuitive capacity.
Characteristics of romanticism
The romantic movement was characterized by the emotional sensitivity and subjectivity of its works. It was a current that rejected the precepts of order, calm and rationality of the classical and neoclassical times of the late 18th century.
The romantic exalted beauty and ideals, giving freedom to feelings. The creative spirit was more important than strict adherence to the rules of society .
The romantic artist sought to escape the immediate reality that overwhelmed and distressed him. For this reason, the works usually represent past times or distant places. The artist took refuge in himself and isolated himself from society.
Romanticism was characterized by:
- Subjectivity: The movement exalted feelings and moods about rationalism. Fear, passion, madness and loneliness were some of the most present themes in romantic works.
- The sublime: The movement referred to the concept of beauty as an ideal of absolute greatness, that which was incomparable in its magnitude and its capacity to move. Hence, the use of symbols that reflected the idolatry of a genius, hero or exceptional figure.
- Nature: The movement brought a new character to the landscape, in which nature was a metaphor for the inner world of the individual, not a mere context in the scene. For example, a volcano could symbolize passion, a snowy mountain could symbolize loneliness and melancholy.
- Nationalism: The movement was characterized by the search for identity, not only individual, but also its heritage and sense of belonging. The concept of popular culture was very present in romantic literature and art .
- Nostalgia for the past: The movement was opposed to the dramatic progress of the Industrial Revolution that threatened to break the unity between man and nature. For this reason, romantic works idealized earlier times and were situated in settings of the past, especially in the Middle Ages.
- Individualism: The movement exalted the expression of the self, in a sense of recognition of individual identity. He considered the subject as unique and different who, in turn, was part of a group in which each individual enjoyed the same recognition.
- The misunderstood genius: The movement supports the image of a romantic genius who stands out for his imagination, creativity and tormented life, as opposed to the Renaissance genius who stood out for his impeccable handling of technique within art.
- The dreamlike character: The movement exposes situations and emotions related to dreams, nightmares and fantasies. It exposes situations in which the imagination frees itself from the sense of reason, even through taboo, dark and satanic subjects.
Romantic literature was an art of public interest that accompanied the values of growing nationalism. Through popular lyrical poetry, the current divested itself of neoclassical literary styles. Among the most representative authors of romanticism are:
- American Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849)
- The French Victor Hugo (1802 – 1885)
- The English Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851)
- The German Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832)
- French Alexander Dumas (1802 – 1870)
- The Spaniard José de Espronceda (1808 – 1842)
- The Colombian Jorge Isaacs (1837 – 1895)
Romantic painting was highlighted by compositions that connoted very deep feelings and moods of the artist (such as introspection, nostalgia, and melancholy).
Through a wide variety of techniques, such as oil painting, watercolors, engravings and lithographs, it provided a space for the liberation of styles and rules that allowed the artist’s emotions to be expressed.
Among the main representatives of romantic art are:
- The Spaniard Francisco Goya (1746 – 1828)
- The Englishman William Turner (1775 – 1851)
- The Spanish Leonardo Alenza (1807 – 1845)
- The French Théodore Géricault (1791 – 1824)
- The French Eugene Delacroix (1798 – 1863)
- The German Caspar David Friedrich (1774 – 1840)