The art movement of Romanticism was an artistic, intellectual, and literary trend that originated in Europe. This movement was viewed as the strong reaction to the Industrial Revolution in Europe. The art movement of Romanticism gained its momentum towards the end of the nineteenth century when neoclassicism started to play a leading role in terms of painting. Neoclassicism as a heroic element in combination with revolutionary idealism produced an emotive style that was romantic in nature. This combination emerged during the French Revolution as the reaction against the avoided academic art. The tenets that were associated with the movement of Romanticism included returning to nature as emphasized by the spontaneous plein-air type of painting, believing in humanity’s goodness, promoting justice for all individuals, and believing in both sense and emotion.
The Origin of the Art Movement Geographically
The art movement of Romanticism originated in Europe and gained momentum in France and Britain during the beginning of the nineteenth century. When the French Revolution of 1789 finally ended, a crucial social change took place (Blanning 37). Continental Europe was particularly weakened by wars, revolutions as well as various political crises. Therefore, the European leaders met at the Congress of Vienna with the aim of reorganizing the affairs of Europe after the Napoleonic Wars because the Europeans had not fulfilled their hopes for equality, fraternity as well as liberty. Respect for a person and people who take responsibility were initially some of the basic elements as far as neoclassical style of painting was concerned. Thus, the respect for an individual led to the emergence of a new phenomenon which was known as emotional intuition. Romanticism put a great emphasis on imagination and emotion, and it appeared to respond to the disillusionment caused by the values of reason of the Enlightenment and the order caused by the aftermath of the French Revolution in1789 (Gardner and Kleiner 28). Therefore, some artists started celebrating emotional intuition and individual perception becoming known as romantics. This, in turn, resulted in the emergence of various styles in art.
The early commencement of the art movement of Romanticism occurred during a period of war, particularly the Napoleonic Wars. Those laid the foundation of Romanticism as a result of the political turmoil as well as the social crisis that were the consequences of the constant fights and battles. On the whole, this movement was the counterpart of the Enlightenment, against which it actively reacted (Blanning 22). In general, the art movement of Romanticism took place when various political activities were unfolding in the states. The movement started during the end of the French Revolution and lasted to the period of Enlightenment hence counteracting it.
People who Were Instrumental in Forming the Aesthetics
The aesthetics of the art movement of Romanticism comprised not only of the visual arts of painters but also of various works of poets, writers, and composers who discussed below.
To begin with, the art movement of Romanticism influences various painters, such as Henry Fuseli, Francisco Goya, Caspar David Friedrich, William Turner, John Constable, Theodore Gericault, and Eugene Delacroix who became quite instrumental figures (Gunderson 26). These painters largely expressed their emotions and imaginations through their paintings of nature. For instance, a painter could represent the animal that they liked with much emotion and passion. These painters were instrumental in contributing to the art movement of Romanticism as their work was aimed at accomplishing the purpose of the movement, which entailed appreciating nature and valuing emotions and imagination.
There were various poets who were instrumental in forming the aesthetics of the art movement of Romanticism. They included William Blake, Robert Burns, Lord Byron, John Keats, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In fact, William Blake was both a poet and an artist. He created the works that were related to the themes of innocence and experience: for example, “Jerusalem” and “The Four Zoas” (English 41). William’s poetic style and his experience in mysticism regarding nature were instrumental in commencing and developing the art movement of Romanticism. Moreover, Robert Burns was very important as far as the development of romantic poetry is concerned. He also made huge contributions to radical politics writing in English and Scottish. Furthermore, Samuel Taylor Coleridge helped introduce England to the concept of German idealism, one of the crucial strands of Romanticism. Then, there was John Keats, a romantic poet from England. His work was instrumental in developing Romanticism as well due to his “Endymion” and such poems as “Bright star.” Moreover, Lord Byron also wrote various romantic poems, such as “She Walks in Beauty,” making a significant contribution to the growth of the art movement of Romanticism (Gardner and Kleiner 43).
There were various writers who largely contributed to the evolution of romanticism. The most prominent were Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Gustave Flaubert, Honoré de Balzac, Mary Shelley, and Sir Walter Scott. In fact, Sir Walter Scott was a particularly crucial romantic novelist: his novels gained a huge global recognition (Gardner and Kleiner 62). He was also a playwright and a poet whose notable works include “Rob Roy” and “Waverley.” Furthermore, Mary Shelley was an English novelist, essayist, and dramatist. She was especially radical when the subject of politics was discussed as explained by her expression of support for social cooperation comparing to the other writers who were individualistic romantics in general. Honoré de Balzac used his individual real life experiences in developing Romanticism (Blanning 62). He was one of the most influential realist writers creating characters that were associated with moral ambiguity. He did significant work collecting short stories, and “La Comedie Humaine” could serve as a perfect example of his works. In addition, Alexandre Dumas was one of the writers who were instrumental in contributing to the art movement of Romanticism by writing historical dramas. Victor Hugo, on the other hand, was the greatest author from France. He had a considerable impact by writing such novels as “Les Miserables.” Finally, Gustave Flaubert was another influential writer from France who wrote his works combining literary realism with romantic traditional aspects (Gardner and Kleiner 31).
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The Manifesto of the Art Movement of Romanticism and its Accomplishments
The art movement of Romanticism had a manifesto aiming at achieving specific objectives and goals. The movement wanted to accomplish various purposes. Firstly, the movement had the objective of developing the appreciation of beauty as far as nature was concerned (Gardner and Kleiner 34). Romanticism was also aimed at exalting emotions rather than reason and senses rather than intellect. This art movement also attempted to establish a turning point on the self in addition to improving the analysis of personality, mood, and mental potential. The fourth objective of Romanticism as an art movement was to stay focused only on genius, hero, in other word, some exceptional figure in order to focus on their inner struggles as well as passions.
The movement was also aimed at proposing a new opinion regarding artists who should be viewed as supreme creators whose spirit of creativity was more important than the strict adherence to the rules, which were merely formal and traditional procedures. The movement also pursued the objective of placing an emphasis on imagination as a key way to a transcendent experience (English 27). Furthermore, the movement had a deep interest in various folk cultures and cultural origins that were both national and ethnical. Finally, the last aspect of Romanticism was related to the predilection for the mysterious, the occult, the deceased, the satanic, the weird, and the exotic.
On the whole, the art movement of Romanticism succeeded in accomplishing all its goals and objectives. The movement managed to validate strong emotions as the aesthetic experience’s authentic source placing renewed emphasis on such emotions as terror, horror, and appreciation as well as awe (English 71). Romanticism also led to the elevation of folk art in addition to ancient customs. Moreover, the art movement of Romanticism embraced the exotic and unfamiliar art, therefore, accomplishing one of its purposes. In addition, the movement went beyond its set aims and the ideals of classicism in the elevation of the renewed medievalism and art and narrative elements, which were initially perceived as authentically medieval, in order to escape the confines of industrialization, population growth, and urban sprawl.
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Tracing the Art Movement of Romanticism through Time
The process of tracing the art movement of Romanticism through time will entail taking into account its contribution to textiles, apparel, and home furnishings from the beginning of this movement to its current status in the world. The art movement of Romanticism played a significant part in 1820-1825 (Gardner and Kleiner 64). At the time, it produced a critical impact on fashion, especially on women’s clothing. Thus, it facilitated the transition in style for women’s clothing from the Empire style to the new romantic one. In particular, the waistline of women’s clothes started to drop, and skirts were becoming fuller. To be more specific, women started to make their skirts A-shaped whereby the narrowest part of the garment was placed at the top while the fullest being at the bottom (see fig. 1).
There was the evident change in ornamentation as well due to it beginning to be favored as far as dresses were concerned. Other significant fashion trends of this period of time included neck ruffs and slashing where garments were cut in order to reveal what was beneath them. It is also essential to note that the dresses from this era were not trained.
Fig. 1. Dress from this era of 1820-1825 depicting the impact of Romanticism on fashion from Susan Jarrett; “The Romantic Era: 1820-1850”; History of Fashion and Dress; Susan Jarrett, N.p., 19 May 2016.
More change in fashion took place in the 1830s. The gored skirt was replaced with a skirt that was fuller, paneled, and with pleats (see fig. 2). This was aimed at drawing attention to the waistline. The dresses also changed, and women started favoring dresses with fuller sleeves (English 55). As there was a significant amount of emphasis placed on the waistline, women started putting on petticoats once again.
Fig. 2. A dress depicting Romanticism inspired style of the 1830s supported by petticoats and sleeves from Susan Jarrett; “The Romantic Era: 1820-1850”; History of Fashion and Dress; Susan Jarrett, N.p., 19 May 2016.
The art movement of Romanticism continued to influence fashion throughout the entire 19th century. More elements of fabrics, clothing, and architecture were borrowed from the medieval times. In the 1850s, paintings started depicting women knitting further showing a conglomeration of romantic values (Blanning 82). This can be seen in Chester Harding’s portrait of Mrs. Abbott Lawrence. The painting also reveals more concerning the impact on home furnishings of the 1850s. Mrs. Lawrence is seating on a chair that is described as Gothic Revival. It is also essential to note that the influence of Romanticism on decorative arts was quite distinct. At the time, the paintings of nature and scenery stressed various earth tones, such as subtle green and beiges. This made them appear as if they were lit by the sun.
Furthermore, one can trace the influence of the art movement of Romanticism with the help of fabric. Starting from 1825, men’s shirts were commonly made of linen, cotton, and osnaburg (English 12). On the other hand, the fabric used for their pants and trousers was made of cotton or sometimes wool. Rarely, the articles of clothing were made of silk with a greater emphasis being put on the use of cotton, wool, and linen. As far as the women were concerned, the fabric of choice was muslin at the time. Between 1825 and 1850, white was favored for the evening dresses for women, though cream and yellow quickly gained fame. The art movement of Romanticism finds the representation of itself later in the 19th century (Gardner and Kleiner 76). During this time, romantic sentimentality takes over: the adoption of cream-hued wedding dresses and maternity attire.
Relating the Identifying Elements of the Art Movement of Romanticism
Relation to Time Periods
The above identified elements of the art movement of Romanticism can be related to the time period of the Industrial Revolution and the Neoclassical Period. Firstly, during the Industrial Revolution, especially in 1830-1840, which marked the most influential time of the Romantic Period, society reverted back to the fashion of the Middle Ages (Blanning 98). Thus, the voluminous skirts were introduced as well as the dresses with large sleeves. The only difference was the fabric as the light material in terms of both weight and color was used. In particular, the women at the time favored organdy, embroidered muslin, and unbleached batiste. On the other hand, during the Neoclassical Period, another time when romanticism was heavily referenced, fashion was heavily influenced as well. For instance, women clothing had significantly high waistline, a trend that was sometimes known as the Empire silhouette. The style of this time put emphasis more on the narrow and tight bodies and large skirts and sleeves that were typical of the art movement of Romanticism.
Relation to Fashion and Textile Trends of the 21st Century
The art movement of Romanticism is still relevant in the fashion and textile trends of the 21st century. This can be seen on the examples of various fashion shows and fashion designers who still use some elements of the movement. For instance, modern day Gothic, a critical element of Romanticism, can be found in many creations of the fashion designer Alexander McQueen. It has helped to demonstrate the threatening nature of Romanticism as the art that promotes imagination among creators. Many fashion shows, such as the London Fall of 2016, presented designers who used the elements of Romanticism, such as ruffles, transparent effects, and fluid silhouettes as far as dresses were concerned (see fig. 3).
Fig. 3. Antonio Berardi RTW Fall 2016 depicting elements of romanticism from Mayte Allende; “London Fall 2016 Trend: Romantic”; WWD; Fairchild Publishing, LLC, 19 May 2016.
Various models in the fashion as well as the textile industry borrowed the experience from the art movement of Romanticism to a great extent. There have been trends that are linked to the vintage style, which can also be traced back to the art movement of Romanticism. It is, therefore, important to note that Romanticism did not just involve poems and songs but also dress code, which was emulated many times.
In conclusion, though the art movement of Romanticism geographically originated in Europe, it had a significant global impact. The movement is viewed as a counterpart to the period of Enlightenment. On the whole, Romanticism focused on the appreciation of humanity, the beauty of nature, and the genius. The movement also emphasized the value of emotions and imagination as well as the appreciation of artists. This trend influenced many notable artists, writers, composers, and poets who were instrumental in developing Romanticism through their various aesthetic works. Furthermore, the art movement of Romanticism can be traced back in history as its impact is evident in the textiles and fashion industries as well as home furnishings.