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Document Based Question

Romantic Art and Literature

Describe the major characteristics of Romantic art and literature during the early and mid-
Century in Europe, and the movements that appeared in reaction to it.
Background Paragraph
Romanticism was the movement that prevailed the most during the early and mid-19th
century in France and England. It first originated in Germany as an element of folk culture, and
was then taken and developed by the bourgeoisie class--the upper, capitalist social group-- of the
European society. Their main purpose was to break the importance of the nobility. It emerged as
to oppose the ideal of reason (Enlightenment), the world of machines (Industrialization), rigidity
(Classicism), and heroism (Neoclassicism). It expanded throughout the Western world and the
American continent influencing aspects of literature, art, music, architecture, and even
historiography of this era (EncyclopediaBritannica, 2012). As a result, fantasy, intense feelings,
the importance of the individual, the power of nature, and the animal kingdom, were exalted.


Document 1

Document 2
Carga de OHiggins,Pedro Subercaseaux Errzuriz, October 12, 1814

The Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1650
FAUST: Ive studied now Philosophy And Jurisprudence, Medicine, And even, alas!
Theology, From end to end, with labor keen; And here, poor fool! with all my lore I
stand, no wiser than before: Im Magisteryea, Doctorhight, And straight or cross-wise,
wrong or right, These ten years long, with many woes, Ive led my scholars by the nose,
And see, that nothing can be known! That knowledge cuts me to the bone. Im cleverer,
true, than those fops of teachers, Doctors and Magisters, Scribes and Preachers; Neither
scruples nor doubts come now to smite me, Nor Hell nor Devil can longer affright me. (pg.
Christ is arisen, Out of Corruptions womb: Burst ye the prison, Break from your gloom!
Praising and pleading him, Lovingly needing him, Brotherly feeding him, Preaching and
speeding him, Blessing, succeeding Him, Thus is the Master near, Thus is He her! (pg.

Document 3
The Raft of the Medusa, Thodore Gricault, 1818-1819

Document 4

Document 5
Farmhouse in Provence, Vicent van Gogh, 1888

The Social Contract, Jean-Jaques
Rousseau, 1762
Man is born free, and everywhere
he is in chains.

Document 6
The Gleaners, Francois Millet, mi-1800s and The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, Caspar
David Friedrich, 1818

Document 7
Seated Woman, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1907

Document 8

Document 9
The Quack in the VillageThodore Ceriez, 1872

To the Bourgeois (Salon 1846), Charles Baudelair, 1846
You are the majority in number and intelligence; therefore you are the
force which is justice. (...). You, the bourgeois be you king, lawgiver, or
businessman have founded collections, museums and galleries. Some of those,
which sixteen years ago were only open to the monopolists, have thrown wide
their doors to the multitude. (...). When you have given to society your knowledge,
your industry, your labor and your money, you claim back your payment in
enjoyments of the body, the reason and the imagination. If you recover the amount
of enjoyments which is needed to establish the equilibrium of all parts of your
being, then you are happy, satisfied and well-disposed, as society will be satisfied,
happy and well-disposed when it has found its own general and absolute
And so it is to you, the bourgeois, that this book is naturally dedicated; for
any book which is not addressed to the majority in number and intelligence is a
stupid book.

The literary and artistic Romantic Movement based upon the principles of folk culture, was
developed by the bourgeoisie during the early and mid-19
Century in Western Europe and the
American continent. This tendency was defined by the ideals of nature, simplicity, intense
emotions, nationalism, freedom, and in some cases religion. During the same century, new
movements, such as Impressionism, Expressionism (late 19
Century), and Realism began to
take over Romanticisms role in art.
The bourgeoisie, during the 19
Century, did not fit into the Three Orders of the Western
European society, which were those who prayed, those who fought, and those work. Since their
origins in the 11
century, they never nobles or peasants, they were in between. However, this
social group, as it stabilized and gained power, consisted mostly of wealthy non-nobility and
guild members, and merchants, who hold riches, usually through commerce. The bourgeoisie
even had political roles, in which they became part of the aristocratic system. Culturally, they
had impacted the Western European society by creating an ideology that crossed class lines
(Myatt, 2012). This new ideology, which captured the essence of folk culture, became known as
Romanticism. Their purpose was to demonstrate that they could also make art or even literature
if they didnt belong to any noble lineage. For this reason, the bourgeoisie, appealed to folkism,
because it represented freedom, harmony, the family, simplicity, and respect to nature (Myatt,
2012). This ideal inspired people to create works that could be equally important as the works
done in the fine arts. The bourgeoisie were demonstrating the natural truth (Myatt, 2012) of the
world; being part of the royal family was not the only condition to give a high status to a painting
or written text. The significance of community and family in folk culture is evidenced in
Document 9, in which a group of people is depicted. Harmony is shown by the running kids, at
the left of the painting. Even small families and bourgeoisie members are represented (i.e.: white
suit and long hat). All the people are joined together, as a community, to embody the life at a
village. Another clear example of the representation of folk culture in Romanticism is the tales of
the Brothers Grimm, intellectuals and collectors of traditional stories. For example, in one of
their stories called The Oldman and his Grandson, the notion of family is represented. It is a
story about an old man who had difficulty eating by his self. Every time he tried to do so, his
hands shake and the bowls of food fell and broke. He, however, was constantly scolded by his
son and sons wife. One day, their child decides to pick up the pieces of the broken bowl from
the ground. His parents, surprised by his sons actions, asked him what he was doing. The kid
responded he could build other plates with those pieces of broken bowls for them to eat from
when they get old and cripple. In this short story, the authors tone is didactic. This tale and the
other 210 left contain a message that could be transmitted to the reader. All of this stories are
known to have been conserved by the bourgeoisie class and then to start creating the Romantic
Movement (look for site). The bourgeoisie gained great importance after founding Romanticism.
Their significance is reflected in Document 8, in which Charles Baudelaires (1846) tone of
admiration towards this group is demonstrated, as he says You are the majorityin number and
intelligence (). The main idea of this passage of To the Bourgeoisie, Salon 1846 is how this
capitalist class had helped society develop culturally. Even though, he was a modernist writer
(modernism opposed to Romanticism), he still admired the intelligence and power of the
bourgeoisie to create a movement that could revolutionize the arts and literature.
Literature and art in Western Europe and the American continent were both influenced by
Romanticism during the early and mid-19
Century, to oppose the importance of rationalism
throughout the Age of Enlightenment. Instead, the powers of nature, intense feelings, simplicity,
liberty, nationalism, and in some cases religion, were emphasized. These specific characteristic
gave Romantic paintings and texts a deeper and more emotional character. For example, in
Document 3, The Raft of the Medusa, the power of a storm at a shipwreck is evidenced. This
type of style was common in France and Britain at this point in history. This natural
phenomenon, transformed into a sublime element, is demonstrated by Horace Vernets tone of
terror shown by the large waves, the dark colors, and the drowning figure of Joseph Vernet
(Horace Vernets uncle). In addition to the power of nature as one characteristic of Romanticism,
intense feelings were also represented. In Mary Shelleys romantic novel called Frankenstein
(additional document), the main idea is that humans can be incapable of controlling their own
creations. This Gothic Romance begins when Robert Walton in one of his travels to the North
Pole is trapped by the icebergs. As he writes to his sister, Victor Frankenstein appears in the
story. The new character begins to talk about his life to Walton to the point where he reveals he
can revive a human corpse. The monster he has created kills Victors brother, and after
confessing of committing the crime, the creature asks Victor if he could create a companion for
him. Throughout the story, the monster kills the people who surround Victor, leaving him as
alone. After he finishes telling his story, the monster kills Victor. In this novel, Shelleys
grotesque tone is revealed by the intense emotions, such as horror and fear. Because this text
contains mysterious and frightening elements, it is also considered Gothic. Besides, Valentines
desperation, depression, terror, shame, and fear throughout the book give Frankenstein a
Romantic personality. Another main characteristic of Romanticism is the idea of freedom. This
concept is shown in Document 4. Jaques-Rosseaus point of view, author of this phrase, reveals
to the reader that humans are naturally animals that should be free; however the rigidity of
society chains them and deprives them from having freedom. Furthermore, the other elements
of Romanticism, religion and simplicity, are expressed in Document 1, The Faust. The main idea
of the first passage is knowledge and the distinct intellectual positions of the European society.
For Goethe, simplicity plays a main role in peoples life. In this case, why would a person study
Philosohy, Jurisprudence, Medecine, and even Theology, if he or she remains as wise as before?
In The Faust, religion, another element of Romanticism, is present in the second passage. The
Chorus of Angles denominates the importance of Christ. Goethes clearly glorifies this religious
figure, when he says Lovingly needing him, brotherly feeding him. According to his point of
view, Christ succeeds God (succeeding Him). The use of religion in The Faust, can be
considered a contradiction to Romanticism because one of the points of this movement was to
break the rigidity religion established in society, however, it was still used by some writes, like
Goethe. However, one Romantic element during this era, which was more common than religion,
was nationalism. This component is clearly the main idea of Document 2, called the Carga de
OHiggins, a clear example the Romantic Movement had spread into the American Continent.
This painting is a representation of the Chilean War of Independence at Rancagua, in which
Bernardo OHiggins, independence fighter, makes his way through the Royalist (Spanish) troops
to escape to the capital of Santiago de Chile. The Battle of Rancagua was represented by Pedro
Sabercaseauxs in 1812, to show his strong feeling of nationalism as he expresses the strength
and superiority of the Chilean Army against the Spanish, with bright colors, even though the
final result was the victory of the Royalists.
Impressionism, Expressionism, and Realism were movements that appeared during the
19th century to oppose the ideals of Romanticism. Impressionistic paintings usually
demonstrated distinctive artistic techniques, such as brush strokes, lighting, lines, and colors. As
seen in Document 5, Farmhouse at Provence, vivid color contrasts and noticeable brush strokes
are used to demonstrate the in tranquil tone of Van Gogh; as opposed to the precise drawn lines,
the delicacy, and accurate colors (colors in real life are the same in the painting) of Romantic art.
Besides Impressionism, Realism was another movement that responded to Romantic tendencies
in art. As referred in Document 6, at the left a realistic painting is depicted, while at the right a
romantic one. The painting at the left contains evident and real life situations that avoid
metaphorical meanings (Romanticism) like ones revealed in The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog.
In The Gleaners, three female individuals are represented working at the fields, shown by
Millets direct and realistic tone, which expresses a daily situation of three characters at a non-
idealized setting. On the other hand, the painting at the right shows the presence of a majestic
scenario, in which natures role, the intense power of the sea, is significant, and the individual is
not depicted at a current place. Impressionism and Realism are only two examples that had
opposed Romanticism. Also, another movement that appeared during the late 19
Century which
demonstrates to be different from Romantic art was Expressionism. One of its most important
characteristics was the distortion of the objects represented in the canvas. As evidenced in
Document 7, the character, a seated woman, in this painting has a distorted shape to express the
subjective tone of Kirchner. This canvas demonstrates the subconscious thoughts of the author,
by using bright and strong colors, asymmetrical shapes, and larger brush strokes. In Romantic art
there was a lack of distorted shapes; objects were drawn with precision and delicacy, and
appealing to the human spirit.
Romanticism was present in both literature and art in the European and American society
during the early and mid-19th century. It was then replaced by other movements such as
Impressionism, Expressionism, and Realism, transforming romantic elements, such as
nationalism, liberty, emotions, simplicity, nature, and in some cases religion. This Romantic
Movement was formed by the power of the capitalist upper class, the bourgeoisie, and their
inclination towards folk culture, to break the importance of noble lineage, give more importance
to community and family, exalt harmony, and capture the nature of the world (Myatt, 2012).


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