Revolution and Romanticism

Topic 2: Revolution and Romanticism

  • The French Revolution ushered in a period of violent upheaval, rather than the fulfillment of Enlightenment ideals. The Reign of Terror and the Napoleonic wars led to period of reaction, when Europe's leaders again promoted monarchy and religion as the keys to a stable society. The Neoclassical style gradually fell out of favor, and other historical styles were revived. The most important of these was the Gothic style; the Age of Faith and of Chivalry was now seen as a high point of European culture. The rebuilding of England's Houses of Parliament in the Gothic style at a time when Britain was the world's most advanced industrial power serves as a key example.

  • There was also a reaction against the Enlightenment in the realms of art and literature. This took the form of Romanticism, which embraced the emotional and irrational. The Romantics also celebrated nature, wilderness, and ruins as antidotes to the Enlightenment emphasis on reason, balance, and order. The Romantic artist was seen as a rebel and a dreamer, someone living on the margins of society; this image of the artist would be one of the most durable and influential legacies of Romanticism.

  • Artists identified with Romanticism, such as Eugene Delacroix in France and J.M.W. Turner in England, often used a looser, freer, more "painterly" style of brushwork. Even academic painters such as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, who continued to work in a more polished and conservative style, sought out exotic subject matter evocative of long ago or far away. During this period the city of Paris consolidated its reputation as the undisputed center of the European art world, a position it would maintain through the next century.

Related Links:
Art of the Industrial Revolution: Architecture, Photography, Realism, & Impressionism Quiz
Urbanization, Photography and the Birth of Impressionism
AP Art History Quizzes
AP Art History Notes