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Romanticism began in the late 18th century and ended in the mid 19th century. The Romantic movement can be described as a reaction against Neoclassicim in which the style is full of emotion and beauty with many individualistic and exotic elements. Romantic art portrays emotions painted in a bold and dramatic manner, and there is often an emphasis on the past. Romantic artists often use melancholic themes and dramatic tragedy. Paintings by famous Romantic artists such as Gericault and Delacroix are filled with energetic brushstrokes, rich colors, and emotive subject matters. The German landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich created images of solitary loneliness whereas in Spain, Francisco Goya conveyed the horrors of war in his works. This demonstrates the variety in subject matter, but the emphasis on drama and emotion. The Pre-Raphaelite movement succeeded Romanticism, and Impressionism is firmly rooted in the Romantic tradition. Other famous Romantic artists include George Stubbs, William Blake, John Margin, John Constable, JMW Turner, and Sir Thomas Lawrence.
Romanticism is thought of as complex and confusing, with great contradictions that range from rebellion and revolutionary ideas to the return of the Catholic and monarchial tradition. With respect to political liberty, some understood it merely as the restoration of the ideological, patriotic, and religious values that the 18th century rationalists had tried to suppress. They exalted Christianity, throne, and country as supreme values. In this "traditional Romanticism" camp one would place Walter Scott in Scotland, Chateaubriandin France, and the Duke of Rivas and José Zorrilla in Spain. It was based on the ideology of the restoration of absolute monarchy in Spain, which originated after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, and defended the traditional values represented by Church and State. On the other hand, other Romantics, as free citizens, fought the entire established order in religion, art, and politics. They proclaimed the rights of the individual over and against society and the law. They represented "revolutionary" or "liberal" Romanticism, and their most notable members were Lord Byron, in England, Victor Hugo, in France, and José de Espronceda, in Spain. The movement's three underlying ideas were: the quest for and justification of "irrational" understanding, which reason denies, Hegelian dialectic, and historicismo.
Romanticism (or the Romantic era/Period) was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe and strengthened in reaction to the Industrial Revolution. In part, it was a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education and natural history.
The movement validated strong emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror and terror, and awe—especially that which is experienced in confronting the sublimity of untamed nature and its picturesque qualities, both new aesthetic categories. It elevated folk art and ancient custom to something noble, made spontaneity a desirable characteristic (as in the musical impromptu), and argued for a "natural" epistemology of human activities as conditioned by nature in the form of language and customary usage.
Romanticism reached beyond the rational and Classicist ideal models to elevate a revived medievalism and elements of art and narrative perceived to be authentically medieval, in an attempt to escape the confines of population growth, urban sprawl, and industrialism, and it also attempted to embrace the exotic, unfamiliar, and distant in modes more authentic than Rococo chinoiserie, harnessing the power of the imagination to envision and to escape.
The modern sense of a romantic character may be expressed in Byronic ideals of a gifted, perhaps misunderstood loner, creatively following the dictates of his inspiration rather than the standard ways of contemporary society.
Although the movement was rooted in the German Sturm und Drang movement, which prized intuition and emotion over Enlightenment rationalism, the ideologies and events of the French Revolution laid the background from which both Romanticism and the Counter-Enlightenment emerged. The confines of the Industrial Revolution also had their influence on Romanticism, which was in part an escape from modern realities; indeed, in the second half of the 19th century, "Realism" was offered as a polarized opposite to Romanticism. Romanticism elevated the achievements of what it perceived as heroic individualists and artists, whose pioneering examples would elevate society. It also legitimized the individual imagination as a critical authority, which permitted freedom from classical notions of form in art. There was a strong recourse to historical and natural inevitability, a zeitgeist, in the representation of its ideas.
Although the term "Romanticism" when applied to music has come to imply the period roughly from the 1820s until around 1900, the contemporary application of "romantic" to music did not coincide with this modern interpretation. In 1810 E.T.A. Hoffmann called Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven the three "Romantic Composers", and Ludwig Spohr used the term "good Romantic style" to apply to parts of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Technically, Mozart and Haydn are considered Classical composers, and by most standards, Beethoven represents the start of the musical Romantic period. By the early 20th century, the sense that there had been a decisive break with the musical past led to the establishment of the 19th century as "The Romantic Era", and it is referred to as such in the standard encyclopedias of music.
In literature, Romanticism found recurrent themes in the evocation or criticism of the past, the cult of "sensibility" with its emphasis on women and children, the heroic isolation of the artist or narrator, and respect for a new, wilder, untrammeled and "pure" nature. Furthermore, several romantic authors, such as Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, based their writings on the supernatural/occult and human psychology. Romanticism also helped in the emergence of new ideas and in the process led to the emergence of positive voices that were beneficial for the marginalized sections of the society.
The roots of romanticism in poetry go back to the time of Alexander Pope (1688–1744). Early pioneers include Joseph Warton (headmaster at Winchester College) and his brother Thomas Warton, professor of Poetry at Oxford University. Joseph maintained that invention and imagination were the chief qualities of a poet. The "poet's poet" Thomas Chatterton is generally considered to be the first Romantic poet in English. The Scottish poet James Macpherson influenced the early development of Romanticism with the international success of his Ossian cycle of poems published in 1762, inspiring both Goethe and the young Walter Scott.
Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770), the first Romantic poet in the English language.
An early German influence came from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whose 1774 novel The Sorrows of Young Werther had young men throughout Europe emulating its protagonist, a young artist with a very sensitive and passionate temperament. At that time Germany was a multitude of small separate states, and Goethe's works would have a seminal influence in developing a unifying sense of nationalism. Another philosophic influence came from the German idealism of Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Schelling, making Jena (where Fichte lived, as well as Schelling Hegel, Schiller and the brothers Schlegel) a center for early German romanticism ("Jenaer Romantik"). Important writers were Ludwig Tieck, Novalis (Heinrich von Ofterdingen, 1799),Heinrich von Kleist and Friedrich Hölderlin. Heidelberg later became a center of German romanticism, where writers and poets such as Clemens Brentano, Achim von Arnim, and Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff met regularly in literary circles.
Important motifs in German Romanticism are travelling, nature, and ancient myths. The later German Romanticism of, for example, E. T. A. Hoffmann's Der Sandmann (The Sandman), 1817, and Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff's Das Marmorbild (The Marble Statue), 1819, was darker in its motifs and has gothic elements.