In the first part of the 1800s, artists mainly use the ideas of freedom, rights of individuals, and an idealized view of history in their art. However, after the revolution in 1848, artists began to have a “realistic” view of the world. This view was focused on the rich and their selfish interests vs. the ordinary people who struggled. Photography was invented at this time and became a way to record and investigate this struggle.

  • The Romantic Movement

    By the end of the 18th century, Enlightenment ideas grew into romanticism. This new movement showed the deep interest in nature and in the thoughts of individuals. These romantic idealists were the opposite of many Enlightenment thinkers. The people changed from reason to emotion, society to nature. Nationalism also grew, inspiring romantic imagination. George Gordon and Lord Byron were leading poets at the time who fought for Greece’s freedom.

    • The Ideas of Romanticism
      • Emotion was key in romanticism. However, romantics also believed in inner feelings/emotions, focus on the mysterious and grotesque, beauty of nature, a simpler and nobler past, glorified heroes, cherished folk traditions, valued the common person, and promoted radical change and democracy.
    • Romanticism in Literature
      • Poetry, music, and painting were heavily influenced as they could capture the emotion of romanticism. Poetry was considered the highest form of expression. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were British romantic poets who honored nature. Other English poets such as Lord Byron, Shelley, and John Keats wrote poems about rebellious heroes, love, and the mystery and beauty of nature. Many British poets lived miserable and short lives. Byron died at age 36, Shelley died at 29.
      • Germany had one of the most famous and earliest writers. In 1774, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe published The Sorrows of Young Werther. This novel was about a young man with a hopeless love, leading to his suicide. Germany also produced works such as the Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm’s collection of fairy tales and dictionary and grammar of the German language. These literary works celebrated the German spirit.
      • Victor Hugo was the leader of French romantics. His works showed the romantic fascination with history and individuals. Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame both involve individuals against society.
    • The Gothic Novel
      • Gothic horror stories became popular, taking place in medieval Gothic castles. These castles were full of supernatural events. Mary Shelley wrote one of the most successful Gothic novel: Frankenstein, a tale about a monster created from body parts.
    • Composers Emphasize Emotion
      • Emotion was the most important factor in romantic music. The romantic composers were less formal and instead celebrated heroism and national pride with a new form of expression.
      • Musicians became popular heroes as music became an important part of life. Composers such as Franz Liszt had earnings similar to modern rock stars.
      • One of the greatest and first Romantic composers was Ludwig van Beethoven. His works went from classical music to romantic compositions. His Ninth Symphony is romantic, celebrating freedom, dignity, and triumph of human spirits.
      • Other romantic composers also went for their audiences hearts and souls. Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, and Frederic Chopin were all romantic composers. Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner made European opera into a theatrical high point.
  • The Shift to Realism in the Arts

    In the 19th century, the rapid industrialization affected everyone. The growing number of workers and harsh life made the romantics’ dreams seem impossible. Realism took over as it showed life as it was. Realist paintings showed the political importance of the working class. The paintings and novels were the most suitable for describing the suffering of working life.

    • Photographers Capture Reality
      • Realists painters and writers detailed the lives of people. However, these idiots could not beat the photographers. The first photographs – daguerreotypes, were invented by Louis Daguerre. These images were startlingly real and gained him worldwide fame.
      • William Talbot created a light-sensitive paper that was used to create negatives. The advantage was that many prints could be created from one paper negative. The Talbot process helped photos be reproduced in the media. The mass distribution created a large audience. Photography was the art of the industrial age with scientific, mechanical, and mass-produced features.
    • Writers Study Society
      • Literary realism was popular in France with people such as Honore de Balzac and Emile Zola. Balzac wrote almost 100 novels named The Human Comedy. These novels describe a struggle for power in French society. Zola’s novels described the miseries of French workers. This revelation shocked readers, promoting reforms of working conditions. Famous English realist Charles Dickens created characters and scenes of London’s poor. The book, Little Dorrit, describes the life of a working person as monotony in a gloomy neighborhood.
  • Impressionists React Against Realism

    Starting in the 1860s, some painters in Paris reacted, creating impressionism. Their style showed their impression of a moment in time. These impressionists used pure, shimmering color to capture a moment.

    • Life in the Moment
      • Impressionists had a more positive view than the realists. They showed shop clerks and other workers enjoying themselves in cafes. They painted performers and glorified the delights of life. Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Renoir were leaders in this impressionist movement.
      • The composers created impressions of mood and atmosphere using different instrumentation, tone, and musical structures. The could create mental pictures of flashing lights and nature. French composers Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy were the most important members of the musical impressionism movement. Changes in politics, society, art, and intellectual movements was significant in the 19th century. The cause of change was industrialization.