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Romantic Art

Sujata Iyer
Romantic art was a sort of uprising by artists, post the French revolution. Let us get to know something more about this art.
Everyone admires art. Whether we understand it or not, we know deep inside, that there is something innately beautiful about it. But not many of us bother to know about the history of art and all the different phases it went through.
One of the richest periods for art was the era of Romanticism & Romantic art. Let us read more about this period, that paved the way for some brilliantly talented artists in music, painting and literature, who we admire even today.

Romantic Art Movement

Romanticism can be defined as the movement during which, there was a kind of awakening and revolt against the then contemporary form of art and literature, called neoclassicism. This revolt was expressed in a different way. Nobody yielded swords and fought wars. The silent revolt was seen only in different forms of arts and literature.

Characteristics of Romantic Art

Let us see some major characteristics of Romanticism, the glorious age, in which a noiseless and bloodless revolution occurred.


Contrary to what the name suggests, 'romanticism' has very little or almost nothing to do with the modern interpretation of the word 'romantic'. Today, 'romantic' is only synonymous with love between two partners.
However, during the Romantic age, that is from the late 18th century to almost half of the 19th century, the perception of the word was totally different. It stood for emotions that were synonymous with freedom and expression.


This movement was all about freedom and finding ways to express that freedom. Artists during the time, were totally against the fundamentalist norms that had been laid down in society.
They rose against pre-conceived notions of regularity, order, harmony, rational behavior, balance, 'mechanical' laws, idealization, equilibrium, logical behavior, correspondence, and a symmetrical form of life.They renounced all of the above attributes, and reveled in the attributes of vigor, passion, individualism, irregularity, chaos, irrationalism, etc.

Expression Through Art

The artists took their imagination to a whole new level. They were unafraid to explore the unexplored. Their art was wild, passionate, exotic, unusual, bizarre, raw, intrepid. They expressed these emotions and attributes in the form of music, literature and painting.


Romantic music did not involve defication of love as an emotion. Even if love was a hidden theme, it's idea was to take existing music to a more passionate level, filled with raw emotion appealing to people, by changing the keys and notes in the instruments.


While neoclassicism followed a set of rules regarding visual arts, Romantic art did not adhere to any of them. There was a vibrant clash of ideas and styles, when it came to Romantic paintings and neoclassic ones.
There was more use of color and the artist flourished with a renewed freedom of using any brush strokes that he thought worked best for the painting.
Some of the most famous Romantic art pieces include The Voyage of Life, which shows the unbroken love for nature that the great Thomas Cole has very vividly expressed.
Artists of the Romantic era include J.M.W. Turner and John Constable.


Main subjects for Romantic art (music, art, literature) were nature, individualism, subjective behavior, informality, dynamism, etc. The poetry of this period used these as their main focus. Majority of influences in literary world were from German greats like Goethe.
Other popular poets included, James Macpherson, Walter Scott, Friedrich Schelling, E.T.A. Hoffman, etc. British Romanticism excelled with poets like Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats.
Romantic art has definitely influenced the later phases of art the world has witnessed. It still continues to influence many aspiring artists. The study of the importance of literature and art is incomplete without the study of this golden and divine period of history, which revolutionized the thinking and expression of artists and art all over the world.