The Romantic Art Period: Post the French Revolution

Everyone admires art. Whether we understand it or not, we know deep inside, that there is something innately beautiful about it. But not many of us bother to know about the art history. One of the richest periods for art was the era of Romanticism & Romantic art. Let us read more about the Romantic art period, the post French revolution movement, that paved the way for some brilliantly talented artists, in music, painting and literature, who we admire even today.

Romantic Art Movement

Romanticism can be defined as the movement during which, there was a kind of awakening and revolt against the contemporary form of art and literature, called neoclassicism. This revolt was expressed in a totally different way. Nobody yielded swords, nobody fought wars. The only way in which this silent revolt was seen, was in the different forms of arts and literature. Read more to know about its characteristics.

Characteristics of Romantic Art

Let us see some major characteristics of Romanticism, the glorious age, in which a noiseless and bloodless revolution occurred.


Contrary to what the name suggests, ‘romanticism’ has very little or almost nothing to do, with the modern interpretation of the word ‘romantic’. Today, ‘romantic’ is only synonymous with love between two partners. However, during the Romantic age, that is from the late eighteenth century to almost half of the nineteenth century, the perception of the word was totally different. It stood for emotions that were synonymous with freedom and expression.


As mentioned above, this movement was all about freedom and finding ways to express that freedom. Artists during the time, were totally against the fundamentalist norms that had been laid down in society. They rose against pre-conceived notions of regularity, order, harmony, rational behavior, balance, ‘mechanical’ laws, idealization, equilibrium, logical behavior, correspondence, and a symmetrical form of life. They renounced all of the above attributes, and reveled in the attributes of vigor, passion, individualism, irregularity, chaos, irrationalism, etc.

Expression Through Art

The artists took their imagination to a whole new level. They were unafraid to explore the unexplored. Their art was wild, passionate, exotic, unusual, bizarre, raw, intrepid. They expressed these emotions and attributes, in the form of music, literature and painting.


As far as Romantic music is concerned, it did not involve the glorification of love as an emotion. Though love may have been a hidden theme, the basic idea of Romantic music, was to take the existing music, to a level that was much more passionate, filled with raw emotion and appealed to the people. This was done by modifications in the keys and notes in the instruments themselves.


While neoclassicism followed a set of rules regarding visual arts, Romantic art did not adhere to any of them. There was a vibrant clash of ideas and styles, when it came to Romantic paintings and neoclassic ones. There was more use of color, and the artist flourished with a renewed freedom, of using any brush strokes that he thought worked best for the painting. Some of the most famous Romantic art pieces include The Voyage of Life, which shows the unbroken love for nature that the great Thomas Cole has very vividly expressed. Other renowned artists of the Romantic era include J.M.W. Turner and John Constable.


The main subjects for Romantic art, be it music, art or literature, were basically nature, individualism, subjective behavior, informality, dynamism, etc. The poetry of this period, used these as their prime focus. A majority of the influences in the literary world, were from German greats, like Goethe. Other popular poets included, James Macpherson, Walter Scott, Friedrich Schelling, E.T.A. Hoffman, etc. British Romanticism excelled with poets like Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats.

Romantic art has influenced the later phases of art that the world has witnessed. And it continues to still influence many aspiring artists. The study of the importance of literature and art is definitely incomplete without the study of this golden and divine period of history, which revolutionized the thinking and expression of artists and art all over the world.Romantic Art