Originating towards the end of the 18th century, the romantic period can be characterized as a rebellion against the classical aristocratic social and political standards in order to improve society and its ideals. It emphasized strong emotion, untamed nature, artistic freedom, originality, and self-expression. The power of the individual imagination is a key attribute in romantic art, where paintings evoked intense emotion in a surreal and mysterious way. Subject matter in romantic painting includes unrestrained and wild nature, myths, dark subjects such as monsters and demons, and awe-inspiring heroic individuals and themes.
Nationalism became a principal theme of romantic art with the movement’s focus on developing national languages and folklore, and preserving cultural customs and traditions. French romantic paintings illustrated the vulnerability and suffering of ordinary humanity was portrayed through powerful long brushstrokes and conflicting light and dark tones in paintings. Instead of accentuating form and outline, the artist used halftones from juxtaposing the color’s complement. German romantic painting was inspired by nature and gave off a combination of delicate mystical and melancholy feelings. English romantic art also focused on landscape, but with a greater simplicity in style that was filled with profound feeling and religious tones.
Famous Romantic Artists:
Caspar David Friedrich
Jean Francois Millet
Example of Romantic Period Art: Nymphs and Satyr, 1873 by William Adolphe Bouguereau