What is Romanticism? Romanticism was a movement in the arts that flourished in the late 18th century to the mid 19th century and rebelled against Neo Classicism. It was the first movement to involve all of Europe in art, architecture, literature and music.
Eugene Delacroix (1798 1863) sometimes incorporated a tiger in some of his paintings to depict energy, will, mood and wildness. Delacroix was a born illustrator, combining animated gesture with graphic skill. He painted in the tradition of Theodore Gericault (1791 – 1824), whose painting ‘The Raft of the Medusa’depicts an actual event that happened in the summer of 1816. Gericault writes
‘Neither poetry or painting can ever do justice to the anguish and horror to the men on the raft.’
Gericault was right about this as the painting shows a group of well muscled robust men displaying dramatic gestures: gestures that the real victims would not have had the strength to make. Gericault uses this opportunity to make a political statement about the State. The captain of the frigate, being a nobleman escaped in one of the few lifeboats – leaving the poor crew (149 men and one woman) to built a makeshift raft. The painting which incorporates a ‘pyramid of hope’. The triangles within the picture symbolises the progression from the depth of despair to a apex of hope (the man sighting a rescue ship) at the top of the picture.
But there’s a lot more to Romanticism than meets the eye……