Romanticism (French romantisme from Latin romanum Roman from Roma – Rome) is one of two, along with Classicism, the fundamental tendencies of artistic thinking. However, historically, they began to call this word a wide range of very different phenomena. At the end of the 18th century, everything unusual, fantastic, that which occurs “as in novels”, was called romantic or “romantic”. Romantic, sublime poetry was then considered the only worthy form of art. But there was another interpretation of the term: romantic – this is the art of Romanesque peoples, mainly medieval, which was opposed to classical, antique. The French word “roman” originally meant literary works not written in classical Latin, but in vulgar, folk dialects. Therefore, romantic art was first understood as the art of the Middle Ages, including the Renaissance, which did not stand out in a special era. The modern name “novel” is a drama for reading, more often a love story, the composition and style of which deviate from the classical rules. From here comes the word romance (French romance, art. French romanz).
The origin of the words “romance”, “romance” is associated with an awareness of romance as a property of the human soul. The concept of romance is broader than romanticism. Romantic feelings, dreams, romantic action – it is always something sublime, noble, disinterested, not connected with any calculation and therefore enthusiastic, divorced from reality and striving for some vague, unrealizable ideal.
Thanks to the all-pervasive romantic beginning of artistic creation, Romanticism is not only opposed to Classicism, but also associated with it. Many artists were the true romantics of Classicism: A. Mantegna, N. Poussin, C. Lorren, J.-B. Piranesi, P. Gonzaga and many others. The romantics were Rembrandt and the apologist for academic classicism, J.-D. Ingres. Therefore, there is even such a term “romantic classicism”. Romanticism and Classicism all the time “went side by side” and only in France at the beginning of the XIX century did their paths diverge. Therefore, in a narrower, concrete historical sense, Romanticism is often understood as a certain artistic direction of the late 18th – early 19th centuries, whose supporters consciously, programmatically opposed their work to Classicism of the 17th and second half of the 18th centuries.
Many believe that Romanticism as an art movement took shape for the first time in English painting as early as the middle of the 18th century, partly under the influence of the aesthetics of Classicism and the landscape style of English gardens. In the 1790s, the innovation of the painting technique by T. Gainsborough marked the beginning of the “pittoresk”, or “picchuresque” course (English picturesque – picturesque). This term meant painting by novelists K. Lorren, N. Poussin, S. Rose, and then their landscape painters, such as W. Turner. The English landscape, like the English landscape style in park art, is typical Romanticism, reflecting the desire for a natural, spontaneous sense of beauty in nature. Following England, Romanticism became widespread in Germany, but there it immediately acquired a more mystical coloring.
The ideological essence of Romanticism consists in a direct appeal to the human soul, bypassing the historical styles and canons of academic Classicism. The ideas of romanticism naturally arise on the basis of dissatisfaction with reality, the crisis of the ideals of Classicism and rationalistic thinking, the desire to go into the world of ideal ideas, utopian dreams of a perfect world. As in no other direction of art, romantic artists are convinced that their direction is the only true way.
The main idea of romantic artistic thinking is the desire for irrational, unknown. Therefore, the era of Romanticism of the late XVIII – early XIX centuries is the time of the most effective manifestation of romantic artistic thinking, only partially caused by the crisis of academic Classicism, and, in a deeper sense, the result of the periodic “swing of the pendulum” from one pole to another, from materialism to idealism , from rational thinking to a mystical sense of reality. In this sense, all medieval art: early Christian, Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic – typical Romanticism!