Romanticism Artists Index

Romanticism Artists Index

Alphabetical Index of the Great Masters of Romanticism

Romanticism is a complex artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Western Europe, and gained strength during the Industrial Revolution. It was partly a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature, and was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature.

The movement stressed strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror, and the awe experienced in confronting the sublimity in untamed nature and its qualities that are "picturesque", both new aesthetic categories. It elevated folk art and custom, as well as arguing for a "natural" epistemology of human activities as conditioned by nature in the form of language, custom and usage.

Our modern sense of a romantic character is sometimes based on Byronic or Romantic ideals. Romanticism reached beyond the rational and Classicist ideal models to elevate medievalism and elements of art and narrative perceived to be authentically medieval, in an attempt to escape the confines of population growth, urban sprawl and industrialism, and it also attempted to embrace the exotic, unfamiliar and distant in modes more authentic than chinoiserie, harnessing the power of the imagination to envision and to escape.

The ideologies and events of the French Revolution, rooted in Romanticism, affected the direction it was to take, and the confines of the Industrial Revolution also had their influence on Romanticism, which was in part an escape from modern realities; indeed, in the second half of the nineteenth century, "Realism" was offered as a polarized opposite to Romanticism. Romanticism elevated the achievements of what it perceived as misunderstood heroic individuals and artists that altered society. It also legitimized the individual imagination as a critical authority which permitted freedom from classical notions of form in art. There was a strong recourse to historical and natural inevitability, a Zeitgeist, in the representation of its ideas.

In a general sense, the term "Romanticism" has been used to refer to certain artists, poets, writers, musicians, as well as political, philosophical and social thinkers of the late eighteenth and early to mid nineteenth centuries. It has equally been used to refer to various artistic, intellectual, and social trends of that era. Despite this general usage of the term, a precise characterization and specific definition of Romanticism have been the subject of debate in the fields of intellectual history and literary history throughout the twentieth century, without any great measure of consensus emerging. Arthur Lovejoy attempted to demonstrate the difficulty of this problem in his seminal article "On The Discrimination of Romanticisms" in his Essays in the History of Ideas (1948); some scholars see romanticism as essentially continuous with the present, some see in it the inaugural moment of modernity, some see it as the beginning of a tradition of resistance to the Enlightenment a Counter-Enlightenment and still others place it firmly in the direct aftermath of the French Revolution. An earlier definition comes from Charles Baudelaire: "Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in the way of feeling."

Many intellectual historians have seen Romanticism as a key movement in the Counter-Enlightenment, a reaction against the Age of Enlightenment. Whereas the thinkers of the Enlightenment emphasized the primacy of deductive reason, Romanticism emphasized intuition, imagination, and feeling, to a point that has led to some Romantic thinkers being accused of irrationalism.

Romanticism is closely tied to the idea of the "Romantic." Note the capital 'R' differs from "romantic" meaning "someone involved in romance," although the words have the same root. The word romance comes from the Old French romanz, which is a genre of prose or poetic heroic narrative originating in medieval literature. Just as we speak of Romance languages, romanz was written in the vernacular and not in Latin.

Romanticism and music
In general, the term "Romanticism" when applied to music has come to mean the period roughly from the 1820s until around 1900. The contemporary application of 'romantic' to music did not coincide with modern categories, however: in 1810 E.T.A. Hoffmann called Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven the three "Romantic Composers", and Ludwig Spohr used the term "good Romantic style" to apply to parts of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Technically, Mozart is considered classical and by most standards Beethoven is the start of the musical Romantic period. By the early twentieth century, the sense that there had been a decisive break with the musical past led to the establishment of the nineteenth century as "The Romantic Era," and it is referred to as such in the standard encyclopedias of music.

The traditional modern discussion of the music of Romanticism includes elements, such as the growing use of folk music, which are also directly related to the broader current of Romantic nationalism in the arts as well as aspects already present in eighteenth-century music, such as the cantabile accompanied melody to which Romantic composers beginning with Franz Schubert applied restless key modulations.

The heightened contrasts and emotions of Sturm und Drang (German for "Storm and Stress") seem a precursor of the Gothic novel in literature, or the sanguinary elements of some of the operas of the period of the French Revolution. The libretti of Lorenzo da Ponte for Mozart's eloquent music, convey a new sense of individuality and freedom. The romantic generation viewed Beethoven as their ideal of a heroic artist--a man who first dedicated a symphony to Consul Bonaparte as a champion of freedom and then challenged Emperor Napoleon by striking him out from the dedication of the Eroica Symphony. In Beethoven's Fidelio he creates the apotheosis of the 'rescue operas' which were another feature of French musical culture during the revolutionary period, in order to hymn the freedom which underlay the thinking of all radical artists in the years of hope after the Congress of Vienna.

In the contemporary music culture, the romantic musician followed a public career, depending on sensitive middle-class audiences rather than on a courtly patron, as had been the case with earlier musicians and composers. Public persona characterized a new generation of virtuosi who made their way as soloists, epitomized in the concert tours of Paganini and Liszt.

Beethoven's use of tonal architecture in such a way as to allow significant expansion of musical forms and structures was immediately recognized as bringing a new dimension to music. His later piano music and string quartets, especially, showed the way to a completely unexplored musical universe. E.T.A. Hoffmann was able to write of the supremacy of instrumental music over vocal music in expressiveness, a concept which would previously have been regarded as absurd. Hoffmann himself, as a practitioner both of music and literature, encouraged the notion of music as 'programmatic' or narrative, an idea which new audiences found attractive. Early nineteenth century developments in instrumental technology iron frames for pianos, wound metal strings for string instruments enabled louder dynamics, more varied tone colours, and the potential for sensational virtuosity. Such developments swelled the length of pieces, introduced programmatic titles, and created new genres such as the free-standing concert overture or tone poem, the piano fantasia, nocturne and rhapsody, and the virtuosic concerto, which became central to musical romanticism.

In opera, a new Romantic atmosphere combining supernatural terror and melodramatic plot in a folkloric context was most successfully achieved by Weber's Der Freischutz (1817, revised 1821). Enriched timbre and color marked the early orchestration of Hector Berlioz in France, and the grand operas of Meyerbeer. Amongst the radical fringe of what became mockingly characterised (adopting Wagner's own words) as 'artists of the future', Liszt and Wagner each embodied the Romantic cult of the free, inspired, charismatic, perhaps ruthlessly unconventional individual artistic personality.

It is the period of 1815 to 1848 which must be regarded as the true age of Romanticism in music - the age of the last compositions of Beethoven (d. 1827) and Schubert (d. 1828), of the works of Schumann (d. 1856) and Chopin (d.1849), of the early struggles of Berlioz and Richard Wagner, of the great virtuosi such as Paganini (d. 1840), and the young Liszt and Thalberg. Now that we are able to listen to the work of Mendelssohn (d. 1847) stripped of the Biedermeier reputation unfairly attached to it, he can also be placed in this more appropriate context. After this period, with Chopin and Paganini dead, Liszt retired from the concert platform at a minor German court, Wagner effectively in exile until he obtained royal patronage in Bavaria, and Berlioz still struggling with the bourgeois liberalism which all but smothered radical artistic endeavour in Europe, Romanticism in music was surely past its prime giving way, rather, to the period of musical romantics.

Visual art and literature
In visual art and literature, Romanticism found recurrent themes in the evocation or criticism of the past, the cult of "sensibility" with its emphasis on women and children, the heroic isolation of the artist or narrator, and respect for a new, wilder, untrammeled and "pure" nature. Furthermore, several romantic authors, such as Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, based their writings on the supernatural/occult and human psychology.

The Scottish poet James Macpherson influenced the early development of Romanticism with the international success of his Ossian cycle of poems published in 1762, inspiring both Goethe and the young Walter Scott.

An early German influence came from Johann Wolfgang Goethe whose 1774 novel The Sorrows of Young Werther had young men throughout Europe emulating its protagonist, a young artist with a very sensitive and passionate temperament. At that time Germany was a multitude of small separate states, and Goethe's works would have a seminal influence in developing a unifying sense of nationalism. Another philosophic influence came from the German idealism of Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Schelling, making Jena (where Fichte lived, as well as Schelling, Hegel, Schiller and the brothers Schlegel) a center for early German romanticism ("Jenaer Romantik"). Important writers were Ludwig Tieck, Novalis (Heinrich von Ofterdingen, 1799) and Friedrich Hoelderlin. Heidelberg later became a center of German romanticism, where writers and poets such as Clemens Brentano, Achim von Arnim, and Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff met regularly in literary circles. Important motifs in German Romanticism are travelling, nature, and ancient myths. The later German Romanticism of, for example, E. T. A. Hoffmann's Der Sandmann (The Sandman), 1817, and Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff's Das Marmorbild (The Marble Statue), 1819, was darker in its motifs and has gothic elements.

Romanticism in British literature developed in a different form slightly later, mostly associated with the poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whose co-authored book Lyrical Ballads (1798) sought to reject Augustan poetry in favour of more direct speech derived from folk traditions. Both poets were also involved in utopian social thought in the wake of the French Revolution. The poet and painter William Blake is the most extreme example of the Romantic sensibility in Britain, epitomised by his claim "I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's." Blake's artistic work is also strongly influenced by Medieval illuminated books. The painters J. M. W. Turner and John Constable are also generally associated with Romanticism. Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley and John Keats constitute another phase of Romanticism in Britain.

In predominantly Roman Catholic countries Romanticism was less pronounced than in Germany and Britain, and tended to develop later, after the rise of Napoleon. Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand is often called the "Father of French Romanticism". In France, the movement is associated with the nineteenth century, particularly in the paintings of Theodore Gericault and Eugene Delacroix, the plays, poems and novels of Victor Hugo (such as Les Miserables and Ninety-Three), and the novels of Stendhal. The composer Hector Berlioz is also important.

In Russia, the principal exponent of Romanticism is Alexander Pushkin. Mikhail Lermontov attempted to analyse and bring to light the deepest reasons for the Romantic idea of metaphysical discontent with society and self, and was much influenced by Lord Byron. The poet Fyodor Tyutchev was also an important figure of the movement in Russia, and was heavily influenced by the German Romantics.

Romanticism played an essential role in the national awakening of many Central European peoples lacking their own national states, not least in Poland, which had recently lost its independence when Russia's army crushed the Polish Rebellion under the reactionary Nicholas I. Revival and reinterpretation of ancient myths, customs and traditions by Romantic poets and painters helped to distinguish their indigenous cultures from those of the dominant nations and crystallise the mythography of Romantic nationalism. Patriotism, nationalism, revolution and armed struggle for independence also became popular themes in the arts of this period. Arguably, the most distinguished Romantic poet of this part of Europe was Adam Mickiewicz, who developed an idea that Poland was the Messiah of Nations, predestined to suffer just as Jesus had suffered to save all the people.

In the United States, the romantic gothic made an early appearance with Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow 1820) and Rip Van Winkle (1819), followed from 1823 onwards by the Leatherstocking tales of James Fenimore Cooper, with their emphasis on heroic simplicity and their fervent landscape descriptions of an already-exotic mythicized frontier peopled by "noble savages", similar to the philosophical theory of Rousseau, exemplified by Uncas, from The Last of the Mohicans. There are picturesque "local color" elements in Washington Irving's essays and especially his travel books. Edgar Allan Poe's tales of the macabre and his balladic poetry were more influential in France than at home, but the romantic American novel developed fully in Nathaniel Hawthorne's atmosphere and melodrama. Later Transcendentalist writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson still show elements of its influence, as does the romantic realism of Walt Whitman. But by the 1880s, psychological and social realism was competing with romanticism in the novel. The poetry which Americans wrote and read was all romantic until the 1920s: Poe and Hawthorne, as well as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The poetry of Emily Dickinson - nearly unread in her own time - and Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick can be taken as epitomes of American Romantic literature, or, by interpreting their sometimes subversive subtexts, as successors to it. As in England, Germany, and France, literary Romanticism had its counterpart in American visual arts, most especially in the exaltation of untamed America found in the paintings of the Hudson River School. Painters like Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church and others often combined a sense of the sublime with underlying religious and philosophical themes. Thomas Cole's paintings feature strong narratives as in The Voyage of Life series painted in the early 1840s that depict man trying to survive amidst an awesome and immense nature, from the cradle to the grave.

One of Romanticism's key ideas and most enduring legacies is the assertion of nationalism, which became a central theme of Romantic art and political philosophy. From the earliest parts of the movement, with their focus on development of national languages and folklore, and the importance of local customs and traditions, to the movements which would redraw the map of Europe and lead to calls for self-determination of nationalities, nationalism was one of the key vehicles of Romanticism, its role, expression and meaning.

Early Romantic nationalism was strongly inspired by Rousseau, and by the ideas of Johann Gottfried von Herder, who in 1784 argued that the geography formed the natural economy of a people, and shaped their customs and society.

The nature of nationalism changed dramatically, however, after the French Revolution with the rise of Napoleon, and the reactions in other nations. Napoleonic nationalism and republicanism were, at first, inspirational to movements in other nations: self-determination and a consciousness of national unity were held to be two of the reasons why France was able to defeat other countries in battle. But as the French Republic became Napoleon's Empire, Napoleon became not the inspiration for nationalism, but the object of its struggle. In Prussia, the development of spiritual renewal as a means to engage in the struggle against Napoleon was argued by, among others, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, a disciple of Kant. The word Volkstum, or nationality, was coined in German as part of this resistance to the now conquering emperor. Fichte expressed the unity of language and nation in his address "To the German Nation" in 1806:
Those who speak the same language are joined to each other by a multitude of invisible bonds by nature herself, long before any human art begins; they understand each other and have the power of continuing to make themselves understood more and more clearly; they belong together and are by nature one and an inseparable whole. ...Only when each people, left to itself, develops and forms itself in accordance with its own peculiar quality, and only when in every people each individual develops himself in accordance with that common quality, as well as in accordance with his own peculiar quality then, and then only, does the manifestation of divinity appear in its true mirror as it ought to be.

This view of nationalism inspired the collection of folklore by such people as the Brothers Grimm, the revival of old epics as national, and the construction of new epics as if they were old, as in the Kalevala, compiled from Finnish tales and folklore, or Ossian, where the claimed ancient roots were invented. The view that fairy tales, unless contaminated from outside, literary sources, were preserved in the same form over thousands of years, was not exclusive to Romantic Nationalists, but fit in well with their views that such tales expressed the primordial nature of a people. For instance, the Brothers Grimm rejected many tales they collected because of their similarity to tales by Charles Perrault, which they thought proved they were not truly German tales; Sleeping Beauty survived in their collection because the tale of Brynhildr convinced them that the figure of the sleeping princess was authentically German.

The brief revolutionary career of Robert Emmet in 1803 in Ireland could have ended in obscurity, but romantic writers such as Thomas Moore ensured that he would be remembered long after his death. His good character combined with failure provided an ideal example of the romantic hero.

Hudson River School
The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century American art movement by a group of landscape painters, whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism. Their paintings depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, as well as the Catskill Mountains, Adirondack Mountains, and White Mountains of New Hampshire. "School", in this sense, refers to a group of people whose outlook, inspiration, output, or style demonstrates a common thread, rather than a learning institution.

Neither the originator of the term Hudson River School nor its first published use has been fixed with certainty. It is thought to have originated with the New York Tribune art critic Clarence Cook or the landscape painter Homer D. Martin). As originally used, the term was meant disparagingly, as the work so labelled had gone out of favor when the Barbizon School and Impressionism came into vogue.

Hudson River School paintings reflect three themes of America in the 19th century: discovery, exploration, and settlement. The paintings also depict the American landscape as a pastoral setting, where human beings and nature coexist peacefully. Hudson River School landscapes are characterized by their realistic, detailed, and sometimes idealized portrayal of nature along with the juxtaposition of colonialism and wilderness. In general, Hudson River School artists believed that nature in the form of the American landscape was an ineffable manifestation of God, though the artists varied in the depth of their religious conviction. They took as their inspiration such European masters as Claude Lorrain, John Constable and J.M.W. Turner and shared a reverence for America's natural beauty with contemporary American writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

While the elements of the paintings are rendered very realistically, many of the actual scenes are the synthesized compositions of multiple scenes or natural images observed by the artists. In gathering the visual data for their paintings, the artists would travel to rather extraordinary and extreme environments, the likes of which would not permit the act of painting. During these expeditions, sketches and memories would be recorded and the paintings would be rendered later, upon the artists' safe return home.

Thomas Cole
The artist Thomas Cole is generally acknowledged as the founder of the Hudson River School. Cole took a steamship up the Hudson in the autumn of 1825, the same year the Erie Canal opened, stopping first at West Point, then at Catskill landing where he ventured west high up into the eastern Catskill Mountains of New York State to paint the first landscapes of the area. The first review of his work appeared in the New York Evening Post on Nov. 22, 1825. At that time, only the English native Cole, born in a monochromatic green landscape, found the brilliant autumn hues of the area unusual. Cole's close friend, Asher Durand, became a prominent figure in the school as well, particularly when the banknote-engraving business evaporated in the Panic of 1837.

Second generation
The second generation of Hudson River school artists emerged to prominence after Cole's premature death in 1848, including Cole's prize pupil Frederic Edwin Church, John Frederick Kensett and Sanford Robinson Gifford. Works by artists of this second generation are often described as examples of Luminism, or the Luminist movement in American art. In addition to pursuing their art, many of the artists, including Kensett. Gifford and Church, were founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Most of the finest works of the Hudson River school were painted between 1855 and 1875. During that time, artists like Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt were treated like major celebrities. When Church exhibited paintings like Niagara or Icebergs of the North, thousands of people would line up around the block and pay fifty cents a head to view the solitary work. The epic size of the landscapes in these paintings reminded Americans of the vast, untamed, but magnificent wilderness areas in their country, and their works helped build upon movements to settle the American West, preserve national parks, and create city parks.

Agasse, Jacques-Laurent (1767-1849)

Aivazovsky, Ivan Konstantinovich (1817-1900)

Allston, Washington (1779-1843)

Audubon, John James (1785-1851)

Bamberger, Fritz (1814-1873)

Barber, Charles Burton (1845-1894)

Barraband, Jacques (c.1767-1809)

Beechey, Richard Brydges (1808-1895)

Bierstadt, Albert (1830-1902)

Birch, Thomas (1779-1851)

Blanes, Juan Manuel (1830-1901)

Bonington, Richard Parkes (1802-1828)

Bradford, William (1823-1892)

Bradley, William (1801-1857)

Bricher, Alfred Thompson (1837-1908)

Carr, Samuel (1837-1908)

Church, Frederic Edwin (1826-1900)

Clairin, Georges (1843-1919)

Cole, Thomas (1801-1848)

Colman, Samuel (1832-1920)

Constable, John (1776-1837)

Copley, John Singleton (1738-1815)

Cropsey, Jasper Francis (1823-1900)

Delacroix, Eugene (1798-1863)

Dore, Gustave (1832-1883)

Downman, John (c.1750-1824)

Duncanson, Robert Scott (1821-1872)

Durand, Asher Brown (1796-1886)

Durrie, George Henry (1820-1863)

Elsley, Arthur John (1860-1952)

Friedrich, Caspar David (1774-1840)

Gifford, Sanford Robinson (1823-1880)

Gignoux, Regis-Francois (1816-1882)

Gould, John (1804-1881)

Goya, Francisco de (1746-1828)

Hackert, Jacob Philippe (1737-1807)

Harnett, William Michael (1848-1892)

Hart, James McDougal (1828-1901)

Heade, Martin Johnson (1819-1904)

Healy, George (1813-1894)

Heard, Joseph (1799-1859)

Hicks, Edward (1780-1849)

Hone, Nathaniel (1718-1784)

Inness, George (1825-1894)

Kensett, John Frederick (1816-1872)

Koekkoek, Barend Cornelius (1803-1862)

Koller, Rudolf (1828-1905)

Krieghoff, Cornelius (1815-1872)

Kruseman, Frederik Marinus (1816-1882)

Kugelgen, Franz Gerhard von (1772-1820)

La Tour, Maurice Quentin de (1704-1788)

Lacroix, Paul (1827-1869)

Lane, Fitz Henry (1804–1865)

Leutze, Emanuel Gottlieb (1816-1868)

Loutherbourg, Philip James de (1740-1812)

Maignan, Albert (1845-1908)

Martin, Homer Dodge (1836-1897)

Meyerheim, Friedrich (1808-1879)

Michel, Georges (1763-1843)

Moran, Thomas (1837-1926)

Morse, Samuel F.B. (1791-1872)

Mount, William Sidney (1807-1868)

Nerly, Friedrich von (1807-1878)

O'Brien, Lucius Richard (1832-1899)

Os, Georgius Jacobus Johannes van (1782-1861)

Overbeck, Johann Friedrich (1789-1869)

Ranney, William Tylee (1813-1857)

Redouté, Pierre-Joseph (1759-1840)

Reinhold, Heinrich (1788-1825)

Richards, William Trost (1833-1905)

Roberts, David (1796-1864)

Royer, Lionel (1852-1926)

Salmon, Robert (c.1775-c.1845)

Scheffer, Ary (1798-1858)

Schendel, Petrus van (1806-1870)

Schotel, Petrus Johannes (1808-1865)

Schotel, Johannes Christiaan (1787-1838)

Sonntag, William Louis (1822-1900)

Spitzweg, Carl (1808-1885)

Stieler, Joseph Karl (1781-1858)

Stuart, Gilbert (1755-1828)

Stubbs, George (1724-1806)

Sully, Thomas (1783-1872)

Turner, Joseph Mallord William (1775-1851)

Vernet, Claude-Joseph (1714-1789)

Volaire, Pierre Jacques (1729-c.1802)

Volpe, Alessandro la (1819/1887)

Weitsch, Friedrich Georg (1758-1828)

Whittredge, Thomas Worthington (1820-1910)

Wilson, Richard (1714-1782)

Wolf, Caspar (1735-1783)

Wolf, Joseph (1820-1899)

Wright of Derby, Joseph (1734-1797)

Wyant, Alexander Helwig (1836-1892)