Emotional Romanticism

The Romanticism movement's art has a reoccurring theme of an intense use of emotion to express an artists raw feelings. Although this concept may seem normal for us today, during the Romantic period, this was a revolutionary new art technique. This free use of emotional expression is shown in many pieces of art around the turn of the 18th century. 


Ugolino and his Sons is a sculpture by Carpeaux that embodies the raw emotion that was expressed in art during the Romanticism movement. This sculpture is inspired by the story of Dante's Inferno. The main subject in the sculpture is contemplating cannibalism at this very moment. The overwhelming worry and desperation is seen in Ugolino's face, and the internal struggle between survival and starvation can be seen. The physical and emotional pain that Ugolino is going through can be related to by a viewer who has a difficult decision to make and can relate to the tough decision that needs to be made. Although it seems common to us today that artist’s use emotion in art, back in the Romantic period, this was revolutionary. Carpeaux took inspiration from Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. This sculpture catapulted Carpaeux into fame as a French romantic sculpture.
Théodore Géricault’s “Portrait Study” is an oil on canvas painting about 19”x15”. Gericault painted this portrait in preparation for another piece he was planning in which a raft of a sunken ship with only fifteen survivors washed ashore. The emotion expressed in the subject’s face is similar to that of the expression of the survivors of the sunken ship. The look into the distance shows a disconnect to reality, and possible the difficulty coping with the reality of survival. The intense emotion expressed with the dark colors and stiff gaze is expressed in this painting, just as it is in many other Romantic subject matter. Gericault is a very famous French Romanic painter who used his subject matter to attempt to show the inner emotion feeling of the subject.
Francico Jose De Goya y Lucientes’s “Monk Talking to an Old Woman” is a shocking painting at first glance. The emotion expressed in the woman’s face is used by Goya to show the struggle she is in. Its possible that the monk is telling her something to cause the woman’s panic, or that he is attempting to calm her down. The expression on the monk’s face is panic himself, but it looks to me like he is trying to calm the woman in a panicked situation. The emotion shown by the subject is another example of the reoccurring theme of conveying subject’s emotion in art during the Romantic period.
John William Waterhouse’s “The Lady of Shalott” uses dark contrast and facial expression to express an emotion of isolation and despair. The painting is oil on canvas, and approximately 150x200 CM. The woman is presented as the main subject of the piece as a very bright figure on a very dark, dull background. She is dressed in a very nice gown and sitting on a nice blanket, but she is floating on an old boat in a river, making the viewer wonder why she is dressed so well. Her face has an expression of despair, and makes me think she is trying to escape from something or someone by going out on this boat. Her emotion expressed is another example of the widespread use of emotion in the Romantic period.
Eugene Delacroix’s “Horse Frightened by Lightening” is a very strange looking painting at first glance, but it can be very thought provoking. Although all the pieces so far I have used as examples of emotion in the Romantic period have been people, Delacroix manages to expression emotion in an animal. The fear, and shock that the horse in the painting is experiencing is a similar expression that humans have. The strange bending of the horses’ limbs and the rearing of its head show the surprise. Delacroix uses a very strong light and dark contrast between the horse and the background, which really adds to the feeling of surprise that the horse is showing.
Francisco de Goya’s “Self Portrait with Dr. Arrieta” is another painting that expresses the relatable emotions that that subjects are feeling. It is clear through the facial expressions Goya places on himself and Dr. Arrieta, that Goya himself is very near death and the doctor is attempting the help him. The agony on Goya’s, and his pail complexion show that he is not in pleasant state. He appears to be refusing medication, possibly showing that he has given up on struggle with illness. The doctor’s expression is puzzling, he is gazing into the distance, and almost looks like he has given up as well. Goya uses light and dark contrast, like Delacroix and Waterhouse, to expression the seriousness of the painting.
Francico Jose De Goya y Lucientes’s “Portrait of King Carlos IV” goes contrary to the other Romantic art I have exhibited so far. This painting does not capture emotion or expression, but instead is a dull painting of a king. His face is in a slight smile, but not because he is experiencing joy, but because he is being painted. He is not experiencing pain, or agony. He is not contemplating, or making a difficult decision. This painting runs contrary to the use of emotion in subject matter that has been theme in Romantic art. This Painting is considered a romantic period piece of art, and painted by a man who also painted very emotional pieces, but it was not universal that all paintings were emotional.
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