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Romantic to Pre-Raphaelite Art

The best books, eBooks, articles, media and open access resources for Romanticism, Realism and Pre-Raphaelite art.

Focus on The Fighting Temeraire, JMW Turner

Nature, as an extension of the landscape, was defined in terms of mythical, unique interior visions as well as panoramic views and detailed glimpses of rusticity and ruin. Some artists shifted between these two modes. In the former group, James Barry, William Blake, and James Gillray created prophetic stories and prehistorical phantasmagoria where personal mythology was bound with limitless intellectual ambition. Samuel Palmer envisioned art's ability as spiritual vocation, while John Martin's landscapes combined borrowed narrative content with commentary on contemporary society (see, for instance, his The Fall of Ninevah, 1829).

Artists also posed the landscape as the locus of spiritual reflection, material progress, and historical struggle. German landscape, painting like its poetry and philosophy counterparts, was linked with conceptions of the divine, thereby fostering the mystical and allegorical paintings of Karl Gustav Carus, Caspar David Friedrich, and Philipp Otto Runge.  Ever present in the minds of Americans, the boundaries of the United States dramatically expanded, and with it the rise of landscape painting. The Hudson River school, the first native school of American painting featuring Thomas Cole, Frederick Church, and later, Albert Bierstadt, portrayed the untouched landscape, nature's sublimity, and visions of utopia.

Perhaps one of the most significant contributions to the visual arts during this era was the development of photography by William Henry Fox Talbot and Thomas Wedgwood in England and Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce and Louis-Jacques-Mandé Da-guerre in France. Building upon earlier forms of graphic arts, photography added a scientific and mechanical element into art production, facets that Walter Benjamin has cited as those that liquidate the image and erode the aura of authorial presence.

From CREDO Art: Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era.

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