Romantic Encounters with Nature • Personification of Nature • Identification with Personified Nature • Elevation of Persona’s Spirit—Rebirth: feelings of youth • Perception of the Spiritual in Nature • Expansion of Persona’s Vision to a Larger Humanity
Poetry: Romantic Theories • Wordsworth: “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”; “from emotion recollected in tranquillity” • Shelley: Poets “the unacknowledged legislators of the world” • Keats: “truth of Imagination”; “Beauty is truth, truth beauty”
American Romantics: Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman • More direct connection with Nature: • Emerson: “transparent eyeball”; “Nature is the incarnation of thought” • Thoreau: “Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself?” • Whitman: “My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air” • Identification without personification
Romanticism and Landscape Pastoral, Picturesque, Sublime
English Landscape Tradition • Edmund Burke, Philosophical Inquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1757-59) • William Gilpin, Three Essays on Picturesque Beauty (1794) • Uvedale Price, Essay on the Picturesque (1794)
Edmund Burke • The Sublime • gives people harsh and antisocial feelings of “agreeable horror” • associated with things or experiences that are powerful, threatening, vast or unclear • generally associated with masculine qualities • associated with representations rather than direct experience
Edmund Burke • The Beautiful • the beautiful gives people harmonious and sociable feelings. • associated with things that are small, weak, soft, pastel-colored, or sensually curved • generally associated with feminine qualities.
The Picturesque: Gilpin • Roughness/ruggedness • Subjects: Examples of picturesque • Ruined architecture • Disheveled hair • Patriarchal head • Human body, esp. in action • Animals: worn-out carthorse, cow, goat, ass, colors on birds • Smooth stallion is beautiful
Picturesque: Gilpin, cont. • Examples (cont.): • lakes • Execution: free and bold • Composition: variety of parts united • Shapes • Light and shadow • Color • Cause: indeterminate
The Picturesque: Price • Roughness, sudden variation (4) • Associated with ruins, not with “the highest order of created beings” (8) • Examples: • Gothic architecture • Hovels, mills, insides of old barns, stables, etc. • “limbs of huge trees shattered by lightning or tempestuous winds” (6) • Animals: Ass, sheep, deer, lion (more than lioness) ruffled birds (6-8) • People: gypsies and beggars (8)
Earlier 19th C. American Literature and Painting The American Landscape
American Landscape Painting • In the U.S. before 1820, landscape painting was considered inferior to history painting and portraiture. • Landscape paintings were informational views of estates or cities: they were not considered great art.
Francis Guy, Pennington Mills, Jones Falls, Baltimore, View Upstream (c. 1804)
American Landscape Painting • However, between the 1820s and the Civil War, landscape painting became the most important genre of American painting—the genre most associated with American identity. • Thomas Cole was largely responsible for this change.
Thomas Cole (1801-1845) • Born in England • Moved to U.S. in 1818 • Largely self-taught • First member of the “Hudson River School” of painting
Cole’s Landscapes • Emphasize the grandeur and wildness of the American landscape • Apply the European concepts of the sublime and the beautiful to the American landscape • Balance the powers of nature with the powers of civilization
European Landscape Tradition • The Beautiful: associated with classical ideas of order, clarity, and harmony • The Sublime: associated with horror, pain, danger, lack of clarity, disharmony