Caspar David Friedrich, ‘The Wanderer above the sea of fog’, 1818. Romanticism: Art. “One of Romantic art’s distinctive features is the artist’s desire to express the ideal in terms of the real.” (Behrendt in Roe, p. 62).
“One of Romantic art’s distinctive features is the artist’s desire to express the ideal in terms of the real.” (Behrendt in Roe, p. 62)
There is meant to be a hare in this picture somewhere but I can’t find it. If you can –point it out to me. Here you get the clash of the mechanical and the rural.
An example of the sublime. Note the enormity of the cliffs in comparison to the cattle below.
‘Coalbrookdale by Night’(1801), another of Loutherbourg’s works, interprets industrialisation as spectacular, alchemical theatre.
Friedrich was interested in natural symbolism. The religious meaning of this painting is clear in its visual iconography: three women, one in mourning balanced by two younger women; the straight road leading to the cemetery; the veiling fog; the setting of morning, the fog ,the budding tress, suggest liminality; “Nature ushers them forward, and also pushes on with the cycle of life: rebirth after death and light after darkness.” (Dixon in Dixon, p. 118)
The Romantics experimented with the representation of clouds a great deal, as can be seen in this picture. Clouds are both reflected and reflecting. They provide movement to an otherwise static landscapes, although there is some water here but it is not the focus. The sky takes up about three-quarters of the picture. Bonington, like a true Romantic, died of tuberculosis at 25.
The Romantic poets were extremely interested in the work of Milton (1608-74), admiring his republican (anti-monarchist) politics and claiming him as a particularly English writer. Milton was much admired for his poetic technique as well. “The promise ...that England could become a nation of prophets remained an inspiring force behind the millenarianism of Blake's poetry...” (McCalman p. 605).
And did those feet in ancient time.Walk upon Englandsmountains green:And was the holy Lamb of God,On Englands pleasant pastures seen!And did the Countenance Divine,Shine forth upon our clouded hills?And was Jerusalem builded here,Among these dark Satanic Mills?Bring me my Bow of burning gold;Bring me my Arrows of desire:Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!Bring me my Chariot of fire!I will not cease from Mental Fight,Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:Till we have built Jerusalem,In Englandsgreen & pleasant Land
Thpoem Jerusalem (1804), by William Blake, is actually an excerpt from the preface to one of his "prophetic books", Milton.Jerusalem is here the symbolic residence of a humanity freed of the inter-related chains of commerce, British imperialism, and war. Blake's "mental fight" is directed against these chains. In his Blake: Prophet Against Empire, David Erdman tells us that Blake's "dark, Satanic Mills" are "mills that produce dark metal,
iron and steel, for diabolic purposes . . . . London . . . was a war arsenal and the hub of the machinery of war, and Blake uses the symbol in that sense."
Jerusalem was set to music quite movingly by composer Hubert Parry in 1916, and has since seen many variations, ranging from the magisterial to the rousing. Our favorite is the version arranged by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. A link may be visited here for a performance on the organ.
Fuseli opened a Milton Gallery in 1799. This painting depicts a section from Paradise Lost. Angels are defending the sleeping Adam and Eve from Satan.
“ Here, a grotesque protagonist , a miniaturised male nude, and an eroticised heroine intermingle promiscuously across the picture’s centre, looked at by a circle of fairies...Such paintings offered an eerie Gothic alternative to ... history painting...in which the masculine clamour of battle is replaced by an alternative, more fantastical form of patriotic symbolism, laden with the traces of a femininity both alluring and dangerous.” (Hallett in McCalman, p. 255)
Edgar Allan Poe, 1809-1849.The Raven; illustrated by GustaveDoré, title vignette by ElihuVedder. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1884.
GustaveDoré (1832-1883) was one of the most prolific and successful book illustrators of the late nineteenth century. His dramatic woodcut designs reflected the romantic style of the French Academy. Employing a staff of over forty wood engravers, Doré produced more than ninety illustrated books, including, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’.