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An artistic movement that thrived in Europe in the late 18th century until the about 1850. These artists drew their inspiration from the romantic literature of the times [Rousseau, Lord Byron and the English poet Wordsworth], and they chose to portray the world as they saw fit. Quite in contrary to the Classical genre, this style proposed to portray the natural world as they perceived it-a frightening place of overpowering temptations; a place still unconquered by man. The main characteristics of this group, however diverse they were, is an uncompromising fascination with the “natural” nature- the untamed wilderness around us, painted nostalgically as an ode to a world already beginning to disintegrate with the first perceivable repercussions of the Industrial Revolution.
Nature was considered humanity's mirror, and natural phenomena could be used to portray real human drama, as well. Unlike the idealized version of truth the Classical painters created, the Romantics looked on the world with a melancholy hopelessness; the themes are melodramatic to the highest degree and brim-packed with emotion. This style attempted to personify the unselfconscious, natural grace of a child's mentality. Children were used as common figures in these paintings, but they were also symbolically significant, as the Romantics perceived childhood to be the perfect state of man with nature- the spontaneous, trusting persona of a child that did not filter his world through intellect, but through emotion and instinct.
Caspar David Friedrich is the most notable German Romantic painter. He is famous for stark landscapes dramatically semi-lit in sunset colors, the human figures in the paintings are still and silent, nothing moves at all. These spiritually charged scenes are meant to awe the viewer- the simple compositions, the misty light, the use of dark purples and silvery whites.
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