Artists, established or revolutionary, post eighteenth century reason and romanticism


Delacroix, Liberty leading the people

By Megan Trudell in Britain:

Rebels and Martyrs: how Romanticism and revolution changed art

As a new exhibition opens at the National Gallery Megan Trudell looks at the Romantics’ legacy.

It is a powerful and romantic idea about past artists that they were visionaries starving in garrets, in some ways outside society.

This image – deliberately created in part by artists themselves – can, if unpicked, tell us a great deal about how individuals responded to a rapidly changing world during the 19th century, and something about that world itself.

A new exhibition at the National Gallery in London follows the changing role and self-description of the artist, from pillars of the establishment to rebels and martyrs.

It includes around 70 paintings and aims to view the evolution in the artist from Sir Joshua Reynolds’ pride in acceptance by the establishment in the late 18th century to the tortured outsider status of the likes of Egon Schiele in the years immediately before the First World War.

Covering 130 years, many of the paintings – often portraits and depictions of artists at work – tell part of the story of the dramatic social changes between the French Revolution and the First World War.

Artists struggled to make sense of them and expressed their contradictions in different ways.

Emerging in the late 18th century in Europe, Romanticism was a response to the tremendous hopes of the French Revolution turning to disillusion with the rise of Napoleon and the return of tyranny.

For many who had welcomed the revolution’s promise of freedom, its outcome was a bitter blow.

Many rejected the Enlightenment ideas of reason associated with the revolution and replaced them with a frequently mystical glorification of an illusory ancient past.

Romantic painting is characterised by an emphasis on nature and the individual expression of emotion and imagination.

The ethos of Romanticism stressed that artists should not paint for money or glory, but to release an inner creativity at whatever cost.

It is this movement which gave birth to the notion of the tortured individual artist.

But Romanticism was contradictory, not simply a reactionary rejection of reason.

It was also a formal challenge to the attitudes and forms of classicism in art, to pre French Revolution conservatism and to establishment painting.

Romantic poets dying young: here.

16 thoughts on “Artists, established or revolutionary, post eighteenth century reason and romanticism

  1. Pingback: Dutch Romantic paintings and African mats | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Iraqi poet Salah al-Hamdani | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Hitler’s crackdown on Jewish composers | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Italian futurism, exhibition in New York City | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Francisco Goya exhibition in Boston, USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Mr. Turner, film by Mike Leigh | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Picasso’s painting and anti-colonialism, speculators’ big money | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: British poetry against government policies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  9. Pingback: J.M.W. Turner art exhibition in Canada | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  10. Pingback: French painter Eugene Delacroix exhibited in London | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  11. Pingback: British art critic John Berger, RIP | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  12. Pingback: British poet Shelley and socialism | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  13. Pingback: American art historian Linda Nochlin, RIP | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  14. Pingback: French painter Eugène Delacroix, New York exhibition | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  15. Pingback: British poet Shelley and the Peterloo massacre | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  16. Pingback: Tolkien, new film, a critical review | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.