The Separation of Romanticism and Neoclassicism From Rococo Art

Henry David Thoreau once stated, “The world is but a canvas for our imagination”. Nature, people, and imagination embody the critical themes of one particular era. The era of Romanticism commenced once people established the quintessential idea that reason could not explain everything, and thus broke away, turning to rely on the renewed aspects of nature and spirited, individual realities. The period sparked a new movement that led to creations which expressed these sentimental ideas and rebelled against the mechanisms of the preceding era.

As revealed through the literary and artistic pieces, “Ode to a Nightingale” and “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog,” attributes of Romanticism are characterized through the motives of escaping the city for nature and instilling creative imagination into one’s mind.

In the same way that Neoclassicism was a breakaway from Rococo art, Romanticism diverged from the ideals of Enlightenment. However, for this period shift, people were rebelling against the Enlightenment and asserting nature as an escape route from the crazed, industrial society.

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In the enlightening period of awareness, knowledge was stripped from books and encyclopedias, inciting a reason for people to branch away from their religions, consequently forming a rupture in society as well as questioning against pious leaders. Romanticism neglected the supremacy of reason by putting myth-like characteristics back into nature and standing up for the belief that the creative mind served equivalent to a deity’s power.

Along with rebelling against the Enlightenment, Romanticism additionally formed as a way to withdraw from industrialization. Industrialization was a side effect of the Enlightenment that provoked disease, overpopulation, and urbanization chaos.

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Advocators of the Romantic period strived to slip away to the freedom, peace, and relief of mother nature that allowed for periods of isolation, self-meditation, and reflection. Through ways of rebellion and avoidance of a detached civilization, like forming one’s own reality by imagination and depending on nature, Romanticists utilized rebelling from the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution as key points to define their movement.. Similarly, John Keats flaunts nature as a source of peaceful refuge and emphasizes radical imagination in “Ode to a Nightingale” by wishing he had the life of a nightingale bird. Keats presents his tranquil realm of the outdoors as his sanctuary by presenting a contrast between the real world and the world of imagination; the world of human being and that of the Nightingale.

Nature becomes perceived as a whole new dimension where Keats can be in tune without a care in the world, but in the world of people, his conflict still prevails since he is still consumed with care, evident by the reference of his brother’s death. When surrounded by nature, Keats is able to be liberated from his painful actuality and can temporarily tuck away from the rapid, ongoing industrialization. Furthermore, radical imagination is also pursued in this lyric poem by the author’s state of mind and consciousness. In the first two stanzas, the author envisions a drug that would release him from the burden of human worries by making him forget everything and in turn, make him as free as the bird. He then enters an emotional, hallucinatory state, fully attaching himself with nature and the feeling of immortality. Keats’ intense power to create something like this in his mind aligns with the Romantic trait of the creative mind being able to constitute their own “reality”.

The Romantic theme expressed through Keats’ ode is the individual seeking contact with divine-like nature through visions and dreams, all which rebelled against the harsh reality of pollution and steel industries. Likewise to Keats’ efforts to glorify nature as a serenity from industrialization and display one’s capability of having boundless imagination, Friedrich’s creation of “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog” also does the aforementioned, complementing Romantic art. Friedrich displays the value placed in nature by the use of artistic elements, blending together to form a naturalistic tone. A light color palette is used to portray the sky and sea of fog, emanating a calm, light scenery. The blended, fluffy light blue and pink echo everywhere among the canvas and possess no definitive lines, whereas the rocks and mountains have smooth arcs that allow the individual figure to safely gaze upon the view. The overall tone of the painting illuminates nature as a sublime haven since nature’s colors appear pleasant, while the atmosphere presents itself to be comfortable, inviting people to escape from the unpleasant, roaring societies of urbanization. Furthermore, Friedrich demonstrates one’s ongoing imagination through the depiction of nature, emotion, and isolation. The isolated figure stands in contemplation and self-reflection, letting loose his wandering mind.

The impression is given that he is mesmerized by the sea of fog as if it were a spiritual experience or deity in his imagination. Depicted by the lone man and empty ridges, the foggy portrait evokes feelings of self-realization or reflection while creating new imaginary visions in the empty fog and surroundings. Friedrich employs nature as a medium to stress the idea that solitude combined with nature can associate to fulfillment and wants the viewer to see that understanding and connecting with nature leads to wisdom. Ultimately, the two compositions communicate the Romantic ideals of nature’s revival to assist humans as well as being able to create an unending virtuality within one’s mind. The speakers of Keats’ and Friedrich’s work enter an untouchable dimension in the midst of vast open-air environment. Rebellion from social conventions and logic allowed artists to freely express their feelings and possess an emotional spirit more than strict adherence to traditional rules. Unarguably, nature is divine and these Romanticists have helped to paint the canvas of the world with their imaginative soul.

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The Separation of Romanticism and Neoclassicism From Rococo Art. (2022, Jun 07). Retrieved from

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