Romanticism was an intellectual and artistic activity that source in the second fifty percent of the 18th century. It to be a reactionary response versus the scientific rationalisation that nature during the Enlightenment, frequently expressed in literature, music, painting and also drama. However it was not just a solution to the rationalism the the enlightenment but likewise a reaction versus the material alters in society, which accompanied the emerging and also expanding industrial capitalism in the late eighteenth century. In this transition production became centralised in the city. The manufacturing facility system the mass production was centred on processes that used and also controlled natural forces such together water and also wind, but also increased power by significantly using fossil fuels. This processes, linked with the profit motive, “degraded and also despoiled”, as some romantics saw it, the setting (although they would not have actually used the term). Cities increased to extraordinary sizes, and also grew right into into centres the pollution, poverty and deprivation. They started to symbolise the fail of laissez faire liberalism’s viewpoint that permitting people to follow your self-interest would lead to a perfect society. Population movement indigenous the land, and also rational search for financially efficient production techniques (involving department of labour, timekeeping and mechanisation) led, follow to the Romantic Movement, to spiritual alienation of the masses from the land and also nature. As Marx and Engels viewed it, they became units that production: cogs in an impersonal fertile machine. People and also nature to be objectified, and also reduced come commodity status.

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This was pertained to as undesirable and also leading to the destruction of the humans. Follow to the romantics, the equipment was “back to nature” since nature was seen as pure and a spiritual source of renewal. That was likewise a means out that the fumes that the growing industrial centres because that the new industrial rich. Motivated by the works of romantic authors and also poets such as Wordsworth, Keats and Shelly, castle hopped top top the newly developed railways and also travelled come the Lake District. This led in the end to an appreciation of the landscape, defined in terms together the “Sublime” and additionally “Delight” (in the landscape). Spoliation of a pure natural landscape was related to as undesirable and destructive. These ideas are still with us and also led the method for contemporary day conservation and environmentalism and also outdoor recreation and also appreciation for natural and historical heritage.


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Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer over a Sea of Fog (c. 1818)

This picture is most likely one of the most famous romantic paintings. The illustrates the sublime, so well-known with Romantic artists and associated v emotions that greatness and also founded ~ above awe and also terror. At the same time it shows the glories the nature and also landscape that open up during long to walk in the hills and mountains. This theme functions heavily in English Romantic literature and also poetry.

But the painting is also the very icon that the alienation indigenous nature experience by city dwellers of commercial cities. The depicts the wanderer as a stranger in nature, but at the same time as a conqueror of nature. The contradictions in this painting show the intricacy of Romantic art.

Further reading

Ronald Rees, ‘Constable, Turner, and also Views that Nature in the Nineteenth Century’, Geographical Review, Vol. 72, No. 3 (1982), 253-269.

Shelach J. Squire, ‘Wordsworth and also Lake ar Tourism: Romantic Reshaping the Landscape’, The Canadian Geographer, Vol. 32, No.3 (1988) 237-247.

David Pepper, Modern Environmentalism: one Introduction, (Routledge, 1996), ch. 4.

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