Visual Art

  1. Neoclassicism was still popular
  2. Challenging calm & order with drama & emotion
  3. Romanticists felt confined by Neoclassicism
  4. Rebelled against established rules of painting in their search for more artistic freedom
  5. New Importance to:
    1. Sentimentality about the past
    2. Reflecting on the wonder of nature
    3. Using the imagination gained new importance
  6. New Subjects:
    1. Exotic, faraway places
    2. Primitive societies
    3. Medieval superstitions

John Constable (1776–1837)

  • English painter
  • Fascinated by nature (clouds)
    • Landscape painter
    • Wanted to capture look and feel of being outdoors
    • Drew in sketchbooks how changes in sunlight affect the way we see landscapes
    • Used his sketches to paint landscapes that showed the movement of clouds and rain
    • Painted the warm light and cool shadows as sunlight streamed across the landscape
    • He believed in painting landscapes en plein air, (outdoors in the natural light)
      • Working with oil paint outdoors was difficult
      • Watercolor not yet invented
  • Family:
    • Father was a miller just like Rembrandt’s father
    • Grew up in the countryside
    • Loved the beauty he saw in nature
    • Dabbled in painting as a child and young man
  • Art School (1799), father agreed to let him attend in London
    • Studied anatomy
    • Learned to copy works of masters
    • Was determined to develop his own style of painting and to focus on landscape painting
    • Wealthy landowners wanted paintings of their land; found (unsteady) work painting landscapes (not that popular)
  • Gained recognition in France before he did in England
  • Idealistic and inflexible:
    • painting landscapes how he wanted to
    • remaining true to nature
    • rather than painting in a profitable style
  • Increased size of landscapes (previously done only for historical scenes)
  • Most common subjects: landscapes personal to him, places he knew and grew up in as a child

The Hay Wain (1821)

  • Central feature: pair of horses pulling hay wain (farm cart) across a river.
  • Things to consider:
    1. What time of year is it?
    2. What’s going on in the weather?
    3. What do you think of his use of light?
    4. See the photo of Flatford Mill for more info.

The Cornfield (1826)

  • trees on either side in the foreground
  • road curving to an open field in the center distance
  • Light fills middle ground and background
  • Small tree centered in the middle ground, framed by two larger trees in the foreground
  • church off to the right in the background
  • Used atmospheric perspective to capture how we see landscapes in the distance, lightening and blurring objects in the background

Francisco Goya (1746–1828)

  • Spanish court painter
  • Would become recognized for paintings and prints of political events and fantastical images of dreams and superstitions.
  • Training: Saragossa and Madrid, then Rome
  • Returned to Spain, started his own workshop in Saragossa
  • 1774: married, moved to Madrid to design tapestries for royalty
  • Paintings turned into weaving patterns to make the tapestries
  • 1781: finally gained the recognition and position he wanted: painting portraits commissioned by royalty and aristocrats.
  • Appointed official court painter, created portraits of King Charles III and his successor, King Charles IV
  • The Family of Charles IV painting not necessarily flattering
    • King, queen dull and oafish
    • Royals were apparently not offended; they accepted the painting without complaint
  • Spent a lot of time with royals and aristocrats
  • Infatuated with the Duchess of Alba — painted several portraits of her, one that he kept for himself.

Serious Change in Style

  • Became seriously ill, almost died
  • Recovered, left totally deaf except for some sort of noise or ringing that bothered him the rest of his life
  • Work began a dramatic change:
    • Bizarre and frightening images began showing up in several series of prints

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters:

  • “Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels.”
  • Not just bleak and foreboding of doom
  • Demonstrate the artist’s sharp satirical wit, sense of humor

The Caprices

  • Dealt with vices and superstitions of people and the corruption in government and the Church.

The Disasters of War

  • Shows the horrors of war.
  • For the first time, war was portrayed as horrible and cruel rather than something noble or exciting.

With or Without Reason

  • The Third of May (1808)
    • portrayed Spanish revolt against Napoleon’s French invasion
    • shows horrific slaughter of innocent citizens rounded up by the French military for execution
    • used chiaroscuro (shades of light and dark) to highlight central figure on his knees with upraised arms in a crucifixion pose
    • bright white and yellow of his clothes stand out against the surrounding muted browns and blacks
    • rifles of the French soldiers standing in a diagonal line point toward their next victims and the central figure
    • bloody, dead bodies are piled around fearful, defenseless people soon awaiting their own horrible deaths
    • Most victims have faces, French soldiers do not (making them appear impersonal and cold-blooded)

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