When asked to write a blog about romantic art, I could think of no images to accompany it; this is not a typical subject for this art historian. A search of Falvey’s catalog for “art, romantic” retrieved 297 titles, but these deal with romanticism in art and in literature. A Google search first gave me “Romanticism – The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” followed by “Romanticism – Wikipedia, the free encylopedia” and “images for romantic art.” None of these references yielded the type of images associated with love or Valentine’s Day. What they did have in common were references to a specific period in art history, the style known as Romanticism: a period which lasted from about 1750 to about 1850.
What is Romanticism in art? Broadly defined it is the beginning of modernism. Artists, according to Hugh Honour, had no programs nor common goals but were concerned with “integrity of feeling” (p. 25). Their subject matter is considered romantic because it stresses ideal beauty or strong emotions or combinations of ideal beauty, strong emotions and other materials. Gardner (Art Through the Ages, ninth edition, p. 872) says, “The Romantic artist, above all else, wanted to excite the emotions of the audience.” And these emotions can be either positive or negative.
This is one of the great ages of landscape painting – J. M. W. Turner, John Constable, Caspar David Friedrich and the American, Thomas Cole are major artists. Other artists with very different subjects are Antoine-Jean Gros, Théodore Géricault, Eugène Delacroix and Henry Fuseli.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art compiled a list of works of art dealing with love, but again, these will not meet your expectations of romantic, Valentine-type art.
For a more light-hearted approach to the subject, visit, “Love Is in the Air, and in the Art,” by Ken Johnson, “The New York Times, Art & Design,” published Feb. 7, 2013.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Romanticism.”
Romanticism by Hugh Honour. A classic work.
The Romantic Rebellion: Romantic Versus Classic Art by Kenneth Clark. Another classic.
The Romantic Rebellion by Eric Newton.
Romantic Art in Britain: Paintings and Drawings, 1760 – 1860 by Frederick J. Cummings.
German Romantic Painting by Hubert Schrade
Romantic Painting in America, Museum of Modern Art exhibition catalog.
Historical Dictionary of Romantic Art and Architecture by Allison Lee Palmer.