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Chapters. 26-27. Delight Pleasure Materialism. Graceful // elegant Sensual // sensuous // erotic // indulgent // voluptuous // hedonic Intimate // trivial // frivolous. Rococo. Antoine Watteau, Departure from the Island of Cythera, 1717.

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Graceful // elegant

Sensual // sensuous // erotic // indulgent // voluptuous // hedonic

Intimate // trivial // frivolous


Antoine Watteau, Departure from the Island of Cythera, 1717

Antoine Watteau, Embarkation for Cythera, 1719

The Grand Manner

(Joshua Reynolds)

Reason // clarity // order // restraint

Goodness // virtue // truth


Simple // austere // monumental

Balanced // symmetric // geometric



  • The new archeology: excavations of Greek and Roman sites, such as Pompeii

  • As expression of Enlightenment ideals

Mt. Vesuvius (AD 79) and Amphitheater

Street in Herculaneum


  • Neoclassical Painting


  • David

  • Ingres

  • Neoclassical Architecture

  • It expresses a reaction of the bourgeoisie against Rococo -the reaction of virtue against decadence- and intends to simplify. It carries along some of the basic ideas of the French revolution, glorifying the great virtues of antiquity and accepting paganism, adding science to emotion. During the empire, the values of the roman civilization are promoted.

  • Neoclassicism does not only adopt antic ideals; due to the contemporary development of archeology, it also tries to reproduce Greek and Roman forms with a precision the artists of the Renaissance had not looked for.

SOUFFLOT, Panthéon, 1755-91, Paris, France

SOUFFLOT, Panthéon, 1755-91, Paris, France

SOUFFLOT, Panthéon, 1755-91, Paris, France

Claude-Nicholas Ledoux, Royal Saltworks, 1774-79

Director’s House

  • In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the United States, in search of foundational models to replace its former reliance on Great Britain, turned to examples from the ancient world, particularly the Roman republic, and, to a lesser extent, ancient Greece. Americans associated classical Greece and Rome with the virtuous, anti-aristocratic political and cultural ideals they hoped would prevail in the United States. Ancient Romans founded the first republic--a representational government in which power is held by the people and representatives are charged with the common welfare of all the people in the country--and Americans were anxious to emulate this model. Their growing interest in the art and culture of the ancient world was part of an aesthetic movement known as neoclassicism.

  • Neoclassical ideals also permeated American art and architecture. Artists eagerly adopted Roman models, creating statues of political and military leaders like George Washington wearing togas and crowned with laurel wreaths. . . . But it was in architecture that the American neoclassical aesthetic achieved its best expression, a fact that was largely the result of Thomas Jefferson's commitment to infusing American buildings with classical principles of order and reason.


Thomas Jefferson, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 1819-26

Thomas Jefferson, Virginia State Capitol, Richmond, VA, 1785-89

  • Washington, D.C., was conceived of as a grand neoclassical city made up of orderly avenues and imposing government buildings.

  • Because the city was built from scratch on a rural landscape, Jefferson and the other planners were able to plan it as a carefully designed exercise in neoclassical order and harmony.


  • Neoclassical Gardens

  • The overriding impression of such gardens is of man's tyranny over nature.


Emotion: sentimentality // nostalgia // melancholy

Imagination: exotic // ecstatic // fantastic // gothic

the sublime





Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;

Our meddling intellect

Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things

We murder to dissect

--William Wordsworth

“Tables Turned”


  • "Romantic" relates to the French word, "Roman," meaning novel (as in a book). Art and Architecture tells a story in a captivating way. Grabs and holds your attention.


Tintern Abbey

Romantic Painting

  • Great Britian

    --John Constable (1776-1837)

    --J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851)

  • France

    --Théodore Géricault (1791-1824)

    --Eugène Delacroix (1799-1863)

  • Germany

    --Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)

  • Romantic Landscape Painting

  • Constable

  • Turner

  • Friedrich

The Sublime

  • Edmund Burke, Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Beautiful and the Sublime (1757).

  • Burke divided all aesthetic responses into two categories, the beautiful and the sublime.

  • The beautiful includes all that is smooth, regular, delicate, and harmonious; the sublime, all that is rough, gloomy, violent, and gigantic.  

  • Sublimity among objects of nature includes all that is untamed and uncivilized, such as the wilder parts of the countryside, mountains, cataracts, volcanoes, and scenes that are savage and primitive as opposed to "cultivated.“


  • American Romanticist Painting

  • Thomas Cole, 1801-1848

    --The Hudson River School (1830s-1840s)

  • Thomas Cole was the leader of the Hudson River School, named after the Hudson River region of New York State, which we recognize as creating the first American style of painting. Cole found nature awe inspiring: he interpreted it as reflecting the hand of God and was therefore reverential toward the wilderness.


Thomas Cole, "The Oxbow," 1836

  • Cole relies heavily on European conventions of landscape painting to convey the visual representation of the struggle between wilderness and civilization. Cronon points out that the diagonal of the tree to the left that directs the view of the scene down the valley toward the farmland is a trademark of celebrated French landscapist Claude Lorrain. The dramatic storm clouds over the wilderness speak of the uncontrolled power of nature, but also of the sublimity of this power. Cole shows no remorse for the recession of the wilderness from the scene. The soft greens and yellows and the gentle rolling landscape of the farms suggest that the pastoral civilization that replaces the wilderness is as beautiful in its order as nature is in its sublimity. Thomas Cole, "The Oxbow," 1836

Thomas Cole, 1842. Part of a series of paintings called "The Voyage of Life," which takes a person from childhood to youth to manhood to old age. This painting symbolizes manhood.

Thomas Cole, Romantic Landscape, 1826

Look closely at the upper left corner, above the mountain peak. You may be able to see faintly painted rays of light that give the scene a spiritual feeling.

Thomas Cole, Landscape Scene from the Last of the Mohicans, 1827

The people in the landscape are so small compared to the whole scene. And they are American Indians, the first inhabitants of the New York and New England wilderness already being developed by European Americans in Cole's time. Their presence confirms this is an America landscape, not European.

  • Bierstadt, 1830-1902

    —the Western frontier as an American Garden of Eden

Bierstadt, The Rocky Mountains, Landers Peak, 1863

Albert Bierstadt, Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite, 1871-73

Bierstadt’s vast panoramas of the Rockies and Sierra Nevada, their skies often turbulent and shot through with sunlight, introduced Americans to a majestic wilderness, awesome but unthreatening, and well worth possessing. In a sense, the artist staked claim to the land by painting it, then passed the ownership on to the viewer.

His many paintings of Yosemite are indeed biblical in grandeur, imbued with the sense that divinity dwelled within the wilderness.

Albert Bierstadt, Hetch Hetchy Canyon, 1875

Albert Bierstadt, Yosemite, 1866,

Although the valley was still very much in a wild, primitive state, in this painting, Bierstadt portrays the valley as orderly and park-like.  He has eliminated clutter, keeping the elements of the painting to only the essentials. 

  • Frederic Edwin Church, 1826-1901

    —invested his vistas with a heroic and quasi-religious spirit

  • In the 1850s, influenced by the great explorer Alexander von Humboldt, Church traveled to South America and made sketches that were the basis of a great Andean panorama. Church painted nature with uncanny fidelity and an abiding sense of awe. His landscapes embodied America's belief that the opening of frontiers and territorial expansion were the nation's destiny.


Church, Heart of the Andes, 1859

Church, The Natural Bridge, Virginia, 1852

Church, "Niagara Falls from the American Side,“ 1867

Church, Rainy Season in the Tropics, 1866

Romanticism in England

  • Wordsworth (1770-1850)

  • P. B. Shelley (1792-1822)

  • John Keats (1795-1821)

Romanticism in America

  • Transcendentalism

    • Emerson

    • Thoreau

    • Walt Whitman

  • Charles Darwin


Theory of Natural Selection

  • Origin of Species (1859)

  • The Descent of Man (1871)

  • Survival of the fittest: Competition leads to adaptation and if adaptation is successful, to survival.

Theory of Natural Selection

  • The governing principles of the world are not order and harmony but constant and undirected struggle.

  • Chance, not a divine plan, ruled the universe.

  • Good and bad were defined only in terms of an ability to survive.

    (Norton, 906)

Social Darwinism

  • Class: laissez faire capitalism

  • Nation: nationalism, imperialism

  • Race: racial superiority

    (Norton 907)

  • The End

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