Art Term

Romanticism

Term in use by the early nineteenth century to describe the movement in art and literature distinguished by a new interest in human psychology, expression of personal feeling and interest in the natural world

William Blake, ‘Frontispiece to ‘Visions of the Daughters of Albion’’ c.1795
William Blake
Frontispiece to ‘Visions of the Daughters of Albion’ c.1795
Tate

This complex shift in attitudes away from the dominant classical tradition was at its height from about 1780 to 1830, but continued to be an influence long after that. The overall characteristic was a new emotionalism in contrast to the prevailing ideas of classical restraint.

In British art, Romanticism was embraced in new responses to nature in the art of John Constable and J.M.W. Turner. Visionary artist William Blake examined man’s place in the cosmos and his relationship to God as well as exploring new ways of looking at human history. Other significant painters of history subjects were Henry Fuseli, James Barry and John Hamilton Mortimer.

Later phases of the Romantic movement in Britain embraced Pre-Raphaelites and symbolism.

Related terms and concepts

Art Term

Pre-Raphaelite

The Pre-Raphaelites were a secret society of young artists (and one writer), founded in London in 1848. They were opposed ...

Art Term

Symbolism

Late nineteenth-century movement that advocated the expression of an idea over the realistic description of the natural world

Art Term

Neo-romanticism

Neo-romanticism is a term applied to the imaginative and often quite abstract landscape based painting of Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland ...

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Selected artists in the collection

Selected artworks in the collection