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

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  • William Blake, 'Frontispiece to 'Visions of the Daughters of Albion'' circa 1795
    William Blake
    Frontispiece to 'Visions of the Daughters of Albion' circa 1795
    Colour print finished in ink and watercolour on paper
    support: 170 x 120 mm
    Purchased with the assistance of a special grant from the National Gallery and donations from the Art Fund, Lord Duveen and others, and presented through the the Art Fund 1919
  • Joseph Mallord William Turner, 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimage - Italy' exhibited 1832
    Joseph Mallord William Turner
    Childe Harold's Pilgrimage - Italy exhibited 1832
    Oil on canvas
  • John Constable, 'Sketch for 'Hadleigh Castle'' circa 1828-9
    John Constable
    Sketch for 'Hadleigh Castle' circa 1828-9

Introduction to Romanticism

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.

Romanticism for kids

Joseph Mallord William Turner, 'The Scarlet Sunset' circa 1830-40
Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Scarlet Sunset circa 1830-40
Watercolour and gouache on paper
support: 134 x 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

These blog posts, games and activites are a fun and simple way to introduce the work of J.M.W Turner to kids, whether in the classroom or at home.

Who is J.M.W Turner?
Was Turner the ‘greatest (painter) of the age?’ This Tate Kids blog post lets you be the judge, whilst being a great short introduction to his work.

Play and create

Discovering Turner 
This fun informative game inspires kids to discover the everyday elements of Turner’s paintings.

Sunsets box
Kids can create a portable sunset box, Turner style.