Romanticism was actually a by-product of the sensibility of the Enlightenment movement. (Janson and Janson, 2004, pp. 690-691). As with most other elements of human nature, when something goes in one direction, there is an equal force that also goes in the other direction. This is the case with Romanticism. While the Enlightenment movement stressed reasoning and morality, the Romantic movement returned to Europe’s Gothic roots, exploring the pleasures and dynamics of a natural existence, especially in the realms of violence, sex, and patriotism.ï¿½
Goya was a Spanish painter and an artistic genius. He was also renowned as a etcher and printmaker and the Gothic inspiration of the Romantic movement can be seen in his “scary” themed pieces like The Sleep of Readon Produces Monsters. In this piece a sleeping subject is stalked by a series of terrifying beasts including owls, a cat, and flapping bats. (Janson and Janson, 2004, p. 691). Another characteristic of the Romantic Movement was political dissent. This particular element greatly influenced Goya’s work, and can be seen in his royal portraiture work like The Family of Charles IV. This particular piece showed the family in articulate and unflattering detail. The children looked frightened, the king is bloated, and the queen is posed “vulgarly.” (p. 692).ï¿½
Eugene Delacroix returned to France from his Italian experience in 1824 and established himself as the leader in Neo-Baroque Romantic painting. While art critics and historians had been struggling to come up with some kind of definition for the Romantic style, they finally found in Delacroix a purest of the form, and related the style to the feeling of modernism. (Janson and Janson, 2004, p. 699). Delacroix portrayed the modernness of themes by exploring the visual interpretation of modern literary works. In his first mature piece, The Death of Sardanapaulus (p. 699), Delacroix portrayed a controversial composition of murder and nudity inspired by the work of the equally controversial and violent Lord Byron. The Romantic Movement had moved away from patriotic heroes and national figures, to literary creation of exotic and lurid masters and monsters.ï¿½
Jean-Auguste Ingres had a different experience of the Romantic Movement then did Goya or Delacroix, for he left France for Italy during the movements development and popularization. When he returned he was rooted in the Italian Neo-classical styles, and clashed with the styling and thematic elements of the Romantics. (Janson and Janson, 2004, p. 697). In his own right, he defended his own style, preferring drawing to painting, however, his abilities to emote artistic splendor through color were superb. This ability was especially seen in his work Odalisque with a Slave. This work not only uses paint tints to add dimension to his work, but also uses the paint to create textures and dynamics that rival those associated with sculpture. While most of his artistic philosophy opposed those of the Romantic Movement, the movement inevitably influenced him. This influence can be seen in his Romantic and exotic themes in paintings like Thousand and One Nights.
Janson, H.W. & Janson, Anthony F. (2004). History of Art: The Western Tradition. (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall.