Importance of Romanticism Movement for Arts History

Art history has lived through several movements and philosophies. Either these movements were an improvement to their predecessors, or they were succeeding in the previous movements and taking the essence forward with some additions and editions.

Similarly, Romanticism can be seen as an art movement that addresses the stereotypical perspectives printed on Classicism. Among all the traits associated with art movements, calmness, harmony, idealization, and balance was corresponding to classicism.

Romanticism was not an improvement or an addition to these principles, but it rejected these attributes. The artists of the 18th Century saw romanticism as being against enlightenment and rationalism. These schools of thought highlighted materialism (physical and not abstract), but romanticism rose above the materialistic notions of painting and moved towards the abstract notions of the individual, surroundings, and imagination.

What Are the Key Features and Ideologies behind Romanticism?

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Before Romanticism, the painters and artists were either not able or were not allowed to express their emotions, perspectives, and feelings about the present conditions in society.

But with the coming of Romanticism, it all changed. Romanticism art embraced the people’s struggles, be it for liberty or living their lives. This art movement allowed the painters to promote overall justice and welfare by changing the masses’ perspective.

It is with Romanticism that the artists could explore the inner self of the man. This was a movement that took everybody away from rational thinking towards understanding human emotions, mood, and their psyche.

Some might say that romanticism was not limited to the contours, color palettes, or the pre-defined boundaries of art, but it was in the feelings and the emotional responses of the subject.

Not by choice, but the subjects in these paintings were representing their true self, without the fear of judgment. Another way that Romanticism played a part in redefining art history was by letting us gaze upon mother nature with a new perspective.

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Just as it was human subjects, the landscape paintings under this technique allowed us to bring out the true and raw power of nature. Both in its glory and terrifying character, romanticism was very subjective and impartial in these aspects.

The painters were able to understand showing an accurate picture is one of the best things that they can contribute to take this movement forward. It is always said when the task is to change the perspectives and the thinking of the masses; we can always rely on art to start and sustain this change.

When Romanticism came into the picture, there was a heightened sense of nationalism all around. This was just after the American Revolution won the country its freedom and the romanticist painters helped keep the fire burning, which was essential to ensure that a common man’s dream of getting a national identity is realized.

The Various Ways Romanticism Expressed Itself

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Any thought in the world of art cannot become a movement until and unless it has influenced the masses and inspired the painters to take it and embrace its core values. Fortunately, the principles and objectives attached to Romanticism enchanted several painters, starting from the 17th Century.

The beginnings of this art form can be traced back to the time of James Barry and Flaxman, as they were the first to change their path from classicism. But it was William Blake, who developed his own style in this respect and gained an audience for this unique and visionary approach.

John Constable and Turner took the reins from William Blake to take the momentum of Romanticism forward, and they added their unique style to the previous aspects. Where the earlier romanticists were developing paintings with a simplistic approach, the English painters added grandeur to them.

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Romanticism also saw some variations according to the regions and countries where it reached and appealed to the painters. Starting from Germany, the Romanticist painters were inspired by the age of reason and painted with an emotional angle rather than academic observations. Caspar David Friedrich was the lead painter in Germany of Romanticism, and his landscape paintings became a symbol of freedom in the country.

In Spain, the art movement of Romanticism was instrumental in bringing out the true picture of the war between Napoleon and the Spanish. Towards the end of the 18th Century, Francisco de Goya was able to express the terrors of war and human emotion with his paintings. Goya’s black paintings were also related to this movement.

The French painters were earlier taken towards the art concepts and meaning taken from Neoclassicism. But Jean-Leon Gerome and Eugene Delacroix harnessed the established power of Romanticism to depict the horrors of the events and tragedies in North Africa.

The very essence of Romanticism, which is nothing but showing the man’s emotions behind the facade we had created either by choice or forcefully. Anywhere the concepts of Romanticism were implemented, the painters could receive a better response because such paintings appealed to the masses and they told the truth of what is and not what ought to be.


Towards the 19th Century (after the 1830s) the world came to know about photography. Furthermore, the industrial movements and urbanization drove a painter’s viewpoint towards realism.

But romanticism revived in the later stage of the 19th Century when the Pre-Raphaelites combined naturalism and romanticism. Added to this, the techniques created by the French duo (Turner and Delacroix), specifically, their studies on color and strong brushstrokes, were seen in impressionism. Goya’s art on Romanticism inspired and was also observed in Picasso’s Guernica and the works of Manet.

The Bottom Line

All in all, it is safe to say that Romanticism has had a great impact on several succeeding generations of painters and schools of thought. Giving your surroundings a touch of can also help you understand your inner feelings and the emotions of those around you.

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