Art Timeline  
  1 c. 15000 - 5000 BC Prehistoric Art
  2 5000 BC - 5ОО BC The Art of the Ancient Kingdoms of Egypt - Aegean Art
  3-4 5ОО вс - 12th century The Art of the Greeks
  5-6 5ОО вс - 12th century Italic Art
  7-8-9 12th century (1100-1199) The Early Christians  Art - Byzantine Art
  10-11 13th century (1200-1299) Gothic Art
  12 14th century (1300-1399) Gothic Art - International Style
  13 15th century (1400-1499) The Early Renaissance
  14 16th century (1500-1599) The High Renaissance
  15-16 16th century (1500-1599) Mannerism
  17-18-19-20 17th century (1600-1699) Baroque
  21-22 18th century (1700-1799) Rococo
  23-24-25-26-27-28-29 19th century(1800–1899) Neoclassical - Romanticism
    19th century (1863-1899) Impressionism Timeline
    19th century (1860-1899) Simbolism
    20th century(1900-1999) ART OF THE 20TH CENTURY
19th century (1800-1899)
  Neoclassicism and Romanticism
Realism, Impressionism and
Neoclassicism and Romanticism
The English Masters
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775—1851) was one of the greatest of all British painters and a key exponent of Romantic landscape art. His Snowstorm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps is an awesome work, a masterful expression of the power and mystery of nature. It shows Hannibal at the mercy of nature, which has turned against him, rather than as master of his own destiny. This reversed the idea of David's composition, Napoleon Crossing the St Bernard Pass (1800), which portrayed Napoleon asa new Hannibal. The natural elements completely dominate the composition, and the figures (even that of the elephant) appear tiny and helpless. Turner's work took to extremes the lyrical immersion in nature that had been portrayed earlier by Alexander Cozens (l717-86), and it went beyond the immediacy of the vision of John Constable (1776-1837), culminating in a kind of "mysticism of light". Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) had already explored the enigmatic magic of colour with his fluid, shadowy brushstrokes. According to Sir Joshua Reynolds(1723-92), the artist should paint "in the same way in which nature creates her own works". The aristocratic tradition of the portrait was continued by Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), who was court painter in 1792.

Alexander Cozens
Rocky Bay Scene

Joseph Mallord William Turner
Snowstorm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps

Philipp Otto Runge 
The Small Morning


William Blake
Hecate or the Three Fate
Blake and the Visionary Painters

The concept of existential loneliness that emerged with Romanticism signalled the end of the Utopian ideals of the Enlightenment. At the same time, the artists' vision broadened in their attempt to paint "that which is not seen". Figures became less heavy and more immaterial, less concrete and defined, in contrast to the precision of Neoclassicism. Figures no longer portrayed only beauty, but were moulded by the energies of the human soul, sometimes distorted or uneasy, often disorderly and impulsive. Artists were invested with a newresponsibility, almost as the re-creators of a lost paradise, imparting a divine message that could only be revealed through the medium of art. William Blake (1757-1827), the visionary and prophetic poet and artist, proclaimed: "The man who raises himself above all is the artist; the prophet is he who is gifted with imagination". The Swiss-born Henry Fuseli, after settling in England, transformed the graceful, symbolic fauna of Neoclassicism, such as butterflies and horses, into strange, ambiguous monsters of the imagination. The dream, with all its irrational implications, became the realm of fantasy, terrifying images, and erotic temptations. His contemporary, the Irish historical painter James Barry (1741-1806) was, according to Blake, misunderstood and unappreciated by the art world. Affirming his strong belief in his own greatness. Barryportrayed himself in Self-Portrait, wearing the garments of the Greek painter Timantes. For William Blake, "the world of the imagination is the world of eternity", where truth and illusion, experience and fantasy, the real world and the supernatural, have no dividing line. To Blake, if "the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is. infinite." Blake, along with exploring the spiritualism of biblical subjects, also sought a common, unifying cosmology to all mythology - classical, Nordic, Semitic, and Oriental. In reviving the form of the medieval miniature, Blake devised a new technique to blend the meaning of the text with the style in which it is presented, synthesizing narrative and decoration. His figures retained a classical beauty and purity of line that approached those of the Danish-born German painter and draughtsman Jakob Carstens (1754-98). The German artist Philipp Otto Runge (1777-1810) took refuge in the myth of childhood, which he idealized as a beautiful, happy time in which love remained pure and innocent. He often used the stability of the family in his work as a mirror of the entire range of human relationships. In his series Die Tageszeiten ("The Times of the Day") begun in about 1796. Runge aimed to extend such harmony to the whole universe. This ambitious project depicts nature with allegorical personages that allude to human destiny and have some religious and political significance. A chapel was to have housed the work, which, combined with music and poetry, prefigured Wagner's dream of Gesamtkunstwerk - a total expression of words, music, and theatre.


William Blake
Isaac Newton
William Blake

born Nov. 28, 1757, London 
died Aug. 12, 1827, London 

English poet, painter (see ), engraver, and visionary mystic whose hand-illustrated series of lyrical and epic poems, beginning with Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794), form one of the most strikingly original and independent bodies of work in the Western cultural tradition. Blake is now regarded as one of the earliest and greatest figures of Romanticism. Yet he was ignored by the public of his day and was called mad because he was single-minded and unworldly; he lived on the edge of poverty and died in neglect.
Education and early career.

Blake was the second of five children; his father was a hosier. William grew up in London and later described the visionary experiences he had as a child in the surrounding countryside, when he saw angels in a tree at Peckham Rye and the prophet Ezekiel in a field. He wanted to be an artist and in 1767, at age 10, started to attend the drawing school of Henry Pars in the Strand. He educated himself by wide reading and the study of engravings from paintings by the great Renaissance masters. In 1772 he was apprenticed to an engraver, James Basire, who taught him his craft very thoroughly. Basire sent him to make drawings of the sculptures in Westminster Abbey, and thus awakened his interest in Gothic art.


William Blake
God as an Architect
illustration from The Ancient of Days
On completion of his apprenticeship in 1779 Blake entered the Royal Academy as an engraving student. His period of study there seems to have been stormy. He took a violent dislike to Sir Joshua Reynolds, then president of the Royal Academy, and felt that his talents were being wasted. While still at the Academy he was earning his living by engraving for publishers and was also producing independent watercolours. At this time his friends included a group of brilliant young artists, among them the sculptor John Flaxman and the painter Thomas Stothard. He also came into contact with the painter Henry Fuseli.

On Aug. 18, 1782, Blake married a poor, illiterate girl, Catherine Boucher, who was to make a perfect companion for him. Flaxman introduced him to the Rev. Anthony S. Mathew and his wife, and for a time Blake was one of the chief attractions at their literary parties. Flaxman and Mathew paid for the printing of a collection of verses by the iryoung friend, Poetical Sketches. By W.B. (1783). A preface provides the information that the verses were written between Blake's 12th and 20th years. This is a remarkable first volume of poetry, and some of the poems contained in it have a freshness, a purity of vision, and a lyric intensity unequaled in Englishpoetry since the 17th century.

Blake's visits to the Mathews' eventually became less frequent and finally ceased. Nevertheless, in the 1780s he was one of a group of progressive-minded people that met at the house of Blake's employer, the Radical bookseller Joseph Johnson. In about 1787 he wrote the fragment of a prose fantasy called An Island in the Moon, in which members of this group are satirized. In 1784, after his father's death, Blake started a print shop in London and tookhis younger brother Robert to live with him as assistant and pupil. Early in 1787 Robert fell ill and in February he died; and William, who had nursed him devotedly, later said that he had seen Robert's soul joyfully rising through the ceiling. He also said that Robert had appeared to him in a vision and revealed a method of engraving the text and illustrations of his books without having recourse to a printer. This method was Blake's invention of what he called “illuminated printing,” in which, by a special technique of relief etching, each page of the book was printed in monochrome from an engraved plate containing both text and illustration: an invention foreshadowed by his friend, George Cumberland. The pages were then usually coloured with watercolour or printed in colour by Blake and his wife, bound together in paper covers, and sold for prices ranging from a few shillings to 10 guineas. Most of Blake's works after the Poetical Sketches were engraved and “published” in this way, and so reached only a limited public during his lifetime; today these “illuminated books,” with their dynamic designs and glowing colours, are among the world's art treasures.

The first books in which Blake made use of his new printing method were two little tracts, There is No Natural Religion and All Religions are One, engraved about 1788. They contain the seeds of practically all the subsequent development of his thought. In them he boldly challenges accepted contemporary theories of the human mind derived from Locke and the prevailing rationalistic-materialistic philosophy and proclaims the superiority of the imagination over other “organs of perception,” since it is the means of perceiving “the Infinite,” or God. Immediately following these tracts came Blake's first masterpieces, in an astonishing outburst of creative activity: Songs of Innocenceand The Book of Thel (both engraved 1789), The French Revolution (1791), The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and Visions of the Daughters of Albion (both engraved 1793), and Songs of Innocence and Experience (1794). The production of these works coincided with the outbreak of the French Revolution, of which Blake, like the other members of the group that met at Johnson's shop, was at first an enthusiastic supporter. Blake significantly differed from other English revolutionaries, however, in his hatred of deism, atheism, and materialism, and his profound, though un dogmatic, religious sense.


William Blake
Songs of Innocence 
(Title page)
Songs of Innocence and Experience.

Songs of Innocence is Blake's first masterpiece of “illuminated printing.” In it the fragile and flowerlike beauty of the lyrics harmonizes with the delicacy and rhythmical subtlety of the designs. Songs of Innocence differs radically from the rather derivative pastoral mode of the Poetical Sketches; in the Songs, Blake took as his models the popular street ballads and rhymes for children of his own time, transmuting these forms by his genius into some of the purest lyric poetry in the English language.

In 1794 he finished a slightly rearranged version of Songs of Innocence with the addition of Songs of Experience; the double collection, in Blake's own words in the subtitle, “shewing the two contrary states of the human soul.” The “two contrary states” are innocence, when the child's imagination has simply the function of completing its own growth; and experience, when it is faced with the world of law, morality, and repression. Songs of Experience provides a kind of ironic answer to Songs of Innocence. The earlier collection's celebration of a beneficent God is countered by the image of him in Experience, in which he becomes the tyrannous God of repression. The key symbol of Innocence is the Lamb; the corresponding image in Experience is the Tyger, the subject of the famous poem that stands at the peak of Blake's lyrical achievement:

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Tyger in this poem is the incarnation of energy, strength, lust, and cruelty, and the tragic dilemma of mankind is poignantly summarized in the final question, “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” Blake also viewed the larger society, in the form of contemporary London, with agonized doubt in Experience, in contrast to his happy visions of the city in Innocence. The great poem “London” in Experience is an especially powerful indictment of the new “acquisitive society” then coming into being, and the poem's naked simplicity of language is the perfect medium for conveying Blake's anguished vision of a society dominated by money.

Early narrative poems.

Blake was experimenting in narrative as well as lyrical poetry at this time. Tiriel, a first attempt, was never engraved. The Book of Thel, with its lovely flowing designs, is an idyll akin to Songs of Innocence in its flowerlike delicacy and transparency. In Tiriel and The Book of Thel Blake uses for the first time the long unrhymed line of 14 syllables, which was to become the staple metre of his narrative poetry. The fragment called The French Revolution is a heroic attempt to make epic poetry out of contemporary history. In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell satire, prophecy,humour, poetry, and philosophy are mingled in a way that has few parallels. Written mainly in terse, sinewy prose, it may be described as a satire on institutional religion and conventional morality. In it Blake defines the ideal use of sensuality: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.” Blake reverses the tenets of conventional Christianity, equating the good with reason and repression and regarding evil as the natural expression of a fundamental psychic energy. The book includes a famous criticism of Milton and the “Proverbs of Hell,” 70 pithy aphorisms that are notable for their praise of heroic energy and their sense of creative vitality. The Marriage culminates in the “Song of Liberty,” a hymn of faithin revolution, ending with the affirmation that “everything that lives is Holy.” In Visions of the Daughters of Albion Blake develops the theme of sexual freedom suggested in several of the Songs of Experience. The central figure in the poem, Oothoon, finds that she has attained to a new purity through sexual delight and regeneration. In this poem the repressive god of abstract morality is first called Urizen.


All Blake's works of the revolutionary period were produced at a house in Soho in London, where he and his wife went to live shortly after Robert's death. In 1793 they moved south of the Thames to Lambeth. They lived there for seven years, and this, the period of Blake's greatest worldly prosperity, was also that of his deepest spiritual uncertainty. Blake's poetry of this period appears in the so-called “Prophetic books”: America, A Prophecy (1793), Europe, A Prophecy (1794), The Book of Urizen (1794), and The Book of Ahania, The Book of Los, and The Song of Los (all 1795). In these works Blake elaborates a series of cosmic myths and epics through which he sets forth a complex and intricate philosophical scheme. A principal symbolic figure in these books is Urizen, a spurned and outcast immortal who embodies both Jehovah and the forces of reason and law thatBlake viewed as restricting and suppressing the natural energies of the human soul.

The Prophetic books describe a series of epic battles fought out in the cosmos, in history, and in the human soul, betweenentities symbolizing the conflicting forces of reason (Urizen),imagination (Los), and the spirit of rebellion (Orc). America, illustrated with brilliantly coloured designs, is a powerful short narrative poem giving a visionary interpretation of the American Revolution as the uprising of Orc, the spirit of rebellion. Europe shows the coming of Christ and the French Revolution of the late 18th century as part of the same manifestation of the spirit of rebellion. The Book of Urizen is Blake's version—or parody—of the biblical Book of Genesis. Here the Creator is not a beneficent, righteous Jehovah, but Urizen, a “dark power” whose rebellion against the primeval unity leads to his entrapment in the material world. The poetry of The Book of Urizen, written in short unrhymed lines of three accents, has a gloomy power, but is inferior in effect to the magnificent accompanying designs, which have an energy and monumental grandeur anticipating the quality of those of Jerusalem, Blake's most splendid illuminated book. Blake's saga of myths is continued in The Book of Ahania, a kind of Exodus following the Genesis of Urizen, and in The Book of Los. In The Song of Los Blake returns to the cosmic theme and brings the story of humanity down to his own time. By this time Blake seems to have reached his spiritual nadir, and his poetry peters out in the last of the Prophetic books. He had lost faith in the French Revolution as an apocalyptic and regenerating force, and was finding his attempt at a synthesis based on the “contraries” of good andevil inadequate as an answer to the complexities of human existence.

Major epics.

With The Song of Los the experimental period of his poetic career ended: he engraved no more books for nearly 10 years. In 1795 he had been commissioned by a bookseller to make designs for an edition of Edward Young's Night Thoughts. He worked on this until 1797, producing 537 watercolour drawings. It seems to have been while he was working on these illustrations that a fresh creative impulse led to the beginning of his first full-scale epic poem. The first draft of the epic, called Vala, was begun in 1795. He worked on it for about nine years, during which period he rewrote it under the title of The Four Zoas, but never engraved it. It remains a magnificent torso, but the quality of this work's poetry and its thought are obscured by its overly complicated mythological scheme. In spite of the grandeur of individual passages and of the major conception, The FourZoas remains fragmentary and lacking in coherence. It provided the materials out of which Blake constructed his later epics, Milton and Jerusalem.

In 1800, at the invitation of William Hayley, a Sussex squire, Blake and his wife went to live in a cottage provided by Hayley at Felpham on the Sussex coast. This well-meaning, obtuse dilettante, who had employed Blake to make engravings, regarded his imaginative works with contempt and tried to turn him into a miniature painter and tame poet on his estate. At first Blake was delighted with life in Sussex, but he soon found the patronizing Hayley intolerable. The cottage was damp and Mrs. Blake's health suffered, and in 1803 the Blakes returned to London. Toward the end of his stay at Felpham, Blake was accused by a soldier called Schofield of having uttered seditious words when he had ejected him from his cottage garden. He was tried at the quarter sessions at Chichester, denied the charges, and was acquitted. Hayley gave bail for Blake and employed counsel to defend him. This experience became part of the mythology underlying Jerusalem and Milton.

It was also probably at Felpham that Blake wrote the most notable of his later lyrical poems, including “Auguries of Innocence,” with its memorable opening stanza:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

It was at Felpham, too, that he wrote some of his finest letters, many of them addressed to Thomas Butts, a government clerk who was for years a generous and loyal supporter and patron of Blake and who commissioned almost his total output of paintings and watercolours at this period.

In 1804–08 Blake engraved Milton. This poem is a comparatively brief epic which deals with a contest between the hero (Milton) and Satan; it too is couched in the propheticgrandeur and obscurity of Blake's invented mythology. Milton's struggle with evil in the poem is a reflection of Blake's own conflicts with the domineering patronage of William Hayley.

Jerusalem is Blake's third major epic and his longest poem. Begun about 1804, and written and engraved soon after the completion of Milton, it is also the most richly decorated of Blake's illuminated books, and only a few of its 100 plates are without illustration. Although the details are complex and present many difficulties, the poem's main outlines are simple. At the opening of the poem the giant Albion (who represents both England and humanity) is shown plunged into the “Sleep of Ulro,” or the hell of abstract materialism. The core of the poem describes his awakening and regeneration through the agency of Los, the archetypal craftsman or creative man. The poem's consummation is the reunion of Albion with Jerusalem (his lost soul) and with God through his acceptance of Jesus' doctrine of universal brotherhood.

Last years.

Blake's life during the period from 1803 to about 1820 was one of worldly failure. He found it difficult to get work, and the engravings that can be identified as his from this period are often hack jobs. In 1809 he made a last effort to put his work before the public and held an exhibition of 16 paintings and watercolour drawings. He wrote a thoughtful Descriptive Catalogue for the exhibition, but only a few people attended.But after this long period of obscurity, Blake found in 1819 anew and generous patron in the painter John Linnell, who introduced him to a group of young artists among whom was Samuel Palmer. In his last years Blake became the centre ofthis group, whose members shared Blake's religious seriousness and revered him as their master.

The most notable poetry Blake wrote after Jerusalem is to be found in The Everlasting Gospel (1818?), a fragmentary and unfinished work containing a challenging reinterpretation of the character and teaching of Christ. But Blake's last years were devoted mainly to pictorial art. In 1821 Linnell commissioned him to make a series of 22 watercolours inspired by the Book of Job; these include someof his best known pictures. Linnell also commissioned Blake's designs for Dante's Divine Comedy, begun in 1825 and left unfinished at his death. These consist of 102 watercolours notable for their brilliant colour. Blake thus found in his 60s a following and support for the imaginative work he had longed to do all his life. As a result, it was in his last years that he produced his most technically assured andbeautiful designs. Toward the end of his life Blake still coloured copies of his books while resting in bed, and that is how he died in a room off the Strand in his 70th year. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Bunhill Fields.

Pictorial work.

In his painting, as in his poetry, Blake seemed to most of his contemporaries to be completely out of the artistic mainstream of their time. But his paintings belong to a recognizable artistic tradition, that of English figurative painting of the later 18th century. Blake was initially influenced by the engravings he studied of the works of Michelangelo and Raphael. He then became deeply impressed with the work of such contemporary figurative painters as James Barry, John Mortimer, and Henry Fuseli, who, like Blake, depicted dramatically posed nude figures with strongly rhythmic, linear contours. Fuseli's extravagant pictorial fantasies in particular freed Blake to distort his figures to express his inner vision.

Throughout his life Blake stressed the preeminence of line, or drawing, over colour, commending the “hard wirey line of rectitude.” He condemned everything that he felt made painting indefinite in contour, such as painterly brushwork and shadowing. Finally, Blake stressed the primacy of art created from the imagination over that drawn from the observation of nature.

The figures in Blake's many prints and watercolour and tempera paintings are notable for the rhythmic vitality of their undulating contours, the monumental simplicity of theirstylized forms, and the dramatic effectiveness and originality of their gestures. Blake's favourite subjects wereepisodes from the Bible, along with episodes found in the works of Milton and Dante. He also showed himself a daring and unusually subtle colourist in many of his works. His illustrations for the Book of Job were done late in life, and they mark the summit of his achievement in the visual arts.

William Blake
The Book of Job
(Title page)

The Book of Job

book of Hebrew scripture that is often counted among the masterpieces of world literature. It is found in the third section of the biblical canon known as the Ketuvim (“Writings”). The book's theme is the eternal problem of unmerited suffering, and it is named after its central character, Job, who attempts to understand the sufferings that engulf him.

The Book of Job may be divided into two sections of prose narrative, consisting of a prologue (chapters 1–2) and an epilogue (chapter 42:7–17), and intervening poetic disputation (chapters 3–42:6). The prose narratives date to before the 6th century BCE, and the poetry has been dated between the 6th and the 4th century BCE. Chapters 28 and 32–37 were probably later additions.

The Book of Job's artful construction accounts for much of its impact. The poetic disputations are set within the prose framework of an ancient legend that originated outside Israel. This legend concerns Job, a prosperous man of outstanding piety. Satan acts as an agent provocateur to test whether or not Job's piety is rooted merely in his prosperity. But faced with the appalling loss of his possessions, his children, and finally his own health, Job still refuses to curse God. Three of his friends then arrive to comfort him, and at this point the poetic dialogue begins. The poetic discourses—which probe the meaning of Job's sufferings and the manner in which he should respond—consist of three cycles of speeches that contain Job's disputes with his three friends and his conversations with God. Job proclaims his innocence and the injustice of hissuffering, while his “comforters” argue that Job is being punished for his sins. Job, convinced of his faithfulness and uprighteousness, is not satisfied with this explanation. The conversation between Job and God resolves the dramatic tension—but without solving the problem of undeserved suffering. The speeches evoke Job's trust in the purposeful activity of God in the affairs of the world, even though God's ways with man remain mysterious and inscrutable.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Karl Brullov
Last Days of Pompeii

Henry Fuseli
Satan Calling to Beelzebub over a Sea of Fire
Nature, to the Romantics, ceased to be a mere backdrop to human affairs and became a living organism that was both extreme and multi-dimensional. It no longer bore the intentionally reassuring characteristics of Arcadia, but expressed itself through hurricanes, raging fires, and earthquakes.

The Last Days of Pompeii by the Russian artist Karl Pavlovitch Brullov (1799-1852) shows in lurid colours the horror of that fateful day. The outstretched arms, the heads bent back to look at the threatening sky, and other gestures show the sense of terror among the figures. These expressions conform to the classical vocabulary introduced in the Stanze, the series of rooms in the Vatican that Raphael decorated for Julius II and Leo X. Elsewhere, the same theme of horror and cataclysm was developed in a decidedly anti-classical sense. John Martin ( 1789-1854) was one of the more visionary English painters of the 18th century. His unusual effects of light and the contrasts between a dramatically apocalyptic landscape and tiny figures create an almost supernatural effect. He drew on biblical and Oriental themes, for example, the canvas of Sadak Looking for the Waters of Oblivion (1812), taken from Persian legend, and The Fall of Baylon (1819), which is painted in the same grandiose manner.Martin was famous throughout Europe and appealed particularly to French writers such as Huysmans, Sainte-Beuve, Victor Hugo, and Theophile Gamier. Henry Fuseli, in his painting Satan Calling to Beelzebub over a Sea of Fire, advanced even further towards the abyss: the main figure is both majestic and sinister, while the figure rising from the depths with its indistinct features, seems to bring to life the monstrous forms of the human soul.

John Martin
Sadak Looking for the Waters of Oblivion

Fuseli's The Nightmare is an enigmatic image that transcends reason, while Goya's The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is an allegory of the irrational tears that lie behind rational thought. Both illustrate sleep and dream-states, and explore how illusion and fantasy are inextricably bound up with reason.


Henry Fuseli
The Nightmare
Henry Fuseli
born Feb. 7, 1741, Zürich, Switz. - died April 16, 1825, Putney Hill, London, Eng. original name Johann Heinrich Füssli Swiss-born painter whose works are among the most exotic, original, and sensual pieces of his time.

Henry Fuseli
  Fuseli was reared in an intellectual and artistic milieu and initially studied theology. Obliged to flee Zürich because of political entanglements, he went first to Berlin, and then settled in London in 1764. He was encouraged to become a painter by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and he left England in 1768 to study in Italy until 1778.

During his stay in Rome he studied the works of Michelangelo and classical art, which became his major stylistic influences; his subject matter was chiefly literary. Fuseli is famous for his paintings and drawings of nude figures caught in strained and violent poses suggestive of intense emotion.
He also had a penchant for inventing macabre fantasies, such as that in “The Nightmare” (1781). He had a noticeable influence on the style of his younger contemporary, William Blake.
In 1788 Fuseli was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, becoming a full academician two years later. During 1799–1805 and again from 1810 he was professor of painting at the Royal Academy. He was appointed keeper of the Academy in 1804.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Henry Fuseli
The Nightmare
The Italian Masters

In comparison with other cultures, the development of Romanticism was slow in Italy, in literature as well as in painting. Its principal characteristic was the attribution of historical significance to individual events, particularly those associated with the unification of Italy. Francesco Hayez (1791-1882) did not possess the dramatic impetus.
nor perhaps the expressive truth, of French painters; for him, the pictorial fury with which Delacroix translated the immediacy of events was entirely foreign. He was, however, the most important figure in the transition from Italian Neoclassicism to Romanticism. Images became more refined in Italian painting, draughtsmanship combined with a notable solidity. The artist's illustrations often assumed the character of a symbolic-romance or, in their lyrical and sentimental handling of melodramatic events, shared an affinity with current musical performances in Italy. Have?, favoured a theatrical style, using backdrops, wings, costumes, and a balanced arrangement of the characters. The scenery was dictated by a desire for documentary accuracy, and he developed a symbolic sense of gesture in his style, which is perfectly exemplified by Melancholy.


Francesco Hayez

The heroism of the people who fought for their country and their faith and who maintained a link with tradition was often used as subject matter to express grand Romantic political and moral ideals. 
Delacroix's Greek Woman among the Ruins of Missolonghi glorifies the inhabitants of the Greek city, which they destroyed rather than surrender to the Turks. 
The Italian painter Francesco Hayez, who in 1841 was proclaimed a "national painter" by the Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini, portrayed the people in the role of a Greek chorus in his Refugees of Parga. His Romantic subjects never quite lost their sharp academic outline. The idea of nationhood developed during the 19th century, when "the people" became a single entity, treated as a coherent individual. The idealization of the masses would sometimes lead to stereotypical generalizations of nations or cultural groups, often bordering on the ridiculous. Romantic artists often showed the people engaged in struggles, battles, and other emotionally intense scenes: this theme was also much in evidence in the narrative prose, poetry, and opera of the time.

Francesco Hayez
Refugees of Parga
The French Masters

Eugene Delacroix used literary, exotic, historical, and also contemporary events as subjects for his paintings. When he showed the Massacre at Chios at the Paris Salon in 1824. it caused a sensation. Suddenly, art no longer had to refer to antiquity but could presume to document the age in which the artist was living. Delacroix sought "that expressive force, that energy, that audacity" that he could not find in the canons of David's ideal of eternal beauty. This "force" later emerged inGericault's compact, solid forms based on the contrast between light and shade. The atmospheric luminosity of Delacroix's landscapes and the brilliant. fierce light of Morocco brightened his palette with stronger colours. It released him from the academic technique of chiaroscuro and enhanced the freedom of his brushwork.
The same vital energy was echoed in the vibrant, tense postures captured by the animal sculptor and painter Antoine-Louis Barye (1796-1875). This artist brought an extraordinary vigour to his violent portrayals of fights between tigers, crocodiles and other wild beasts. These paintings contrasted strongly with the monumental stillness and sublime calm of Neoclassical art, which was based on precise aesthetic principles. With the advent of Romanticism, sculpture became an almost contradictory medium as regards the ideal theories of the new aesthetic: hence, it was poorly represented as an art form at this time. Carnage (1834) by Auguste Preault (1809-79) appears as a menacing and visionary attack on violence, while Romantic individualism found expression in the celebrated medallions of Pierre-Jean David d'Angers (1788-1856). He represented the characteristics of his famous sitters (including Delacroix, Friedrich, Victor Hugo, Byron, Paganini, and Rossini) almost to the point of caricature.


The most important painter of the Romantic movement in France, Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) began his career n Baron Guerin's workship. There, he met Theodore Gericault, who would prove to be a key influence. Among the other painters he admired was Constable. Influential in terms of subject matter were his travels in 1832 to Morocco, Algeria, and Spain. After years of battles with the Salon, he was given official approval at the Universal Exhibition of 1855.


Eugene Delacroix
Greek Woman among the Ruins of Missolonghi
Eugene Delacroix

born April 26, 1798, Charenton-Saint-Maurice, France 
died August 13, 1863, Paris 

in full Ferdinand-Eugène-Victor Delacroix the greatest French Romantic painter, whose use of colour was influential in the development of both Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting. His inspiration came chiefly from historical or contemporary events or literature, and a visit to Morocco in 1832 provided him with further exotic subjects.

Early life

Delacroix was the fourth child of Victoire Oeben, a descendant of the Oeben-Riesener family, which had createdfurniture for the French king and court in the 17th and 18th centuries, and of Charles Delacroix, a government official, who was ambassador to Holland in 1798 and who died in 1805 while prefect of Bordeaux. One theory attributes Eugène's true paternity to the statesman Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. This belief is strengthened both by Delacroix's strong physical resemblance to Talleyrand and by the fact that the future painter would consistently receiveimportant patronage from the French government despite the nonconformist character of his art.

Whatever the truth of his parentage, Delacroix's childhood was untroubled, and he would always maintain great affection andadmiration for his father. Up to age 17 he pursued classical studies. Within his distinguished and artistic family, he formed a passion for music and the theatre. In 1815 he became the pupil of a renowned academic painter, Baron Pierre-Narcisse Guérin. He knew the historical painter Antoine-Jean Gros, and as a young man he visited the salon of the royalist and painter Baron François Gérard. As early as 1822 he received the backing of Adolphe Thiers, the statesman and historian, who, asinterior ministerin the 1830s, put Delacroix in charge of architectural decorations.

A child of his century, Delacroix was affected by the Romanticism of the painter Théodore Géricault and of friends such as the English painter Richard Parkes Bonington, the Polish-born composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin, and the French writer George Sand. He did not, however, take part in the battles of the Romantic movement waged by Victor Hugo, Hector Berlioz, and others.

Development of mature style

Delacroix's debut at the Paris Salon of 1822, in which he exhibited his first masterpiece, Dante and Virgil in Hell, is one of the landmarks in the development of French 19th-century Romantic painting. Dante and Virgil in Hell was inspired by Dante'sDivine Comedy, but its tragic feeling and the powerful modeling of its figures are reminiscent of Michelangelo, and its rich colour shows the influence of Peter Paul Rubens. Among Delacroix's contemporaries, Géricault, who was the young painter's best friend until his sudden death in 1824, was also important.

In his subsequent choice of subjects, Delacroix showed an affinity with Lord Byron and other Romantic poets of his time, and he also drew subjects from Dante, William Shakespeare, and medieval history. In 1824, however, he exhibited at the Salon the Massacre at Chios , a large canvas depicting the dramatic contemporary massacre of Greeks by Turks on the island of Chios. The nature of his talent is evident in the unity he achieved in his expression of the haughty pride of the conquerors, the horror as well as despair of the innocent Greeks, and the splendour of a vast sky.

Delacroix had already become interested in the delicate technique of his English painter friends Richard Parkes Bonington and the Fielding brothers (Thales, Copley, Theodore, and Newton), and he also admired the English landscapes of John Constable, which were exhibited in Paris in 1824. Indeed, the luminous tonalities evident in the Massacre at Chios are said to have been inspired by Constable's style. To round out his technical and cultural education, Delacroix left for London in 1825. There his technique, developed by contact with J.M.W. Turner, Constable, and Sir Thomas Lawrence, acquired the freedom and suppleness that until then he had been admiring in Rubens and striving to achieve for himself.

Between 1827 and 1832, Delacroix produced masterpieces in quick succession. Chief among them is The Death ofSardanapalus (1827), a violent and voluptuous Byronic subject in which women, slaves, animals, jewels, and rich fabrics are combined in a sensuous but somewhat incoherent scene. One of his finest paintings on historical subjects, The Execution of the Doge Marino Faliero (1826–27), dates from this period as do two works on medieval history, The Battle of Nancy (1831) and The Battle of Poitiers (1830). He also painted the typically Byronic subject of Combat Between the Giaour and the Pasha (1827). Like Géricault, Delacroix explored the newly invented medium of lithography and made a set of 17 lithographs (1827) illustrating a French edition of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust.

In 1830 Delacroix painted Liberty Leading the People to commemorate the July Revolution that had just brought Louis-Philippe to the French throne. This large canvas mixes allegory with contemporary realism in a highly successful and monumental manner and isstill perhaps the most popular of all Delacroix's paintings. The relatively subdued manner of Liberty Leading the People also reflects a change in Delacroix's style, which became somewhat more quiet while still retaining elements of animation and grandeur.

From January to July 1832, Delacroix toured in Algeria, Spain, and Morocco with the comte de Mornay, King Louis-Philippe's diplomatic representative to the sultan. Morocco proved to be a revelation to Delacroix, who found in its people and way of life the Homeric nobility and beauty that he had never seen in French academic Neoclassicism itself. The sights of exuberant nature and the beauty of the horses, the Arabs and their flowing costumes, would henceforth inspire his visual memory, even in his last works. Delacroix made copious sketches and notes during the trip and used them to good effect upon his return to Paris. After Morocco his drawing and paint handling became freer and hisuse of colour even more sumptuous. The first fruits of his Moroccan impressions are collected in Women of Algiers in Their Apartment (1834), in which three sumptuously costumed Arab women and their surroundings are portrayed in a blaze of exquisitely warm colour harmonies. Delacroix's other recapitulations of his North African experiences include Fanatics of Tangier (1838) and Jewish Wedding (1839). He continued to paint Arab subjects almost to the end of his life.

Building decoration

In the latter part of his career, Delacroix was favoured with a string of important commissions to decorate government buildings. His first commission, in 1833–36, was to paint a group of murals for the Salon du Roi at the Palais-Bourbon. He was subsequently commissioned to decorate the ceiling of the Library of the Palais-Bourbon (1838–47), the Library of the Palais du Luxembourg (1840–47), the ceiling of the Galerie d'Apollon at the Louvre (1850), the Salon de la Paix at the Hotel de Ville (1849–53; burned in 1871), and the Chapel of the Holy Angels in the Church of Saint-Sulpice (1849–61). His murals represent the last great effort of this kind in the tradition of the Baroque ceiling painters.

During this period Delacroix also painted several canvaseson the largest scale of his career, notably two for the museum of history at Versailles: The Battle of Taillebourg (1837) and Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople (1840). Among his later easel paintings are ones on Arab, religious, and classical subjects and several superb scenes of wild animals and hunts, among them the Lion Hunt of 1858and the Lion Hunt of 1861. Delacroix painted several notable self-portraits during the course of his long career and occasionally produced portraits of such friends as Chopin and Sand (both in 1838).

Delacroix died in 1863, leaving more than 6,000 drawings, watercolours, and prints to be sold. His Journals are among the most penetrating of artists' notebooks since those kept by Leonardo da Vinci. A selective edition of them in English by Hubert Wellington was published in 1951 as The Journal of Eugène Delacroix.

With Turner, Delacroix was the forerunner of the bold technical innovations that strongly influenced the development of Impressionism and subsequent modernist movements. The uninhibited expression of energy and movement in his works, his fascination with violence, destruction, and the more tragic aspects of life, and the sensuous virtuosity of his colouring have helped make him one of the most fascinating and complex artistic figures of the 19th century.

Rene Huyghe 

Encyclopædia Britannica


This work, which illustrates a popular fictional dramatic scene, is signed and dated at bottom left. It belongs to the artist's fully mature period: a second version is housed in the Louvre. The subject is based on the romantic novel Ivanhoe, written by Sir Walter Scott in 1820. It recounts a tale of the wars between the Normans and Saxons at the time of Richard I (1189-99), known as Richard the Lionheart. In the foreground, Rebecca, a rich young Jewish woman, is lying across the haunch of a horse, held between two men in flamboyant costumes; one holds her by the waist, the other by the legs. Below right, in the middle ground, a knight in armour, with his cloak billowing in the wind, spurs on his mount to reach the victim. In the upper background, amid trails of smoke, stands a castle in flames.

Eugene Delacroix
The Abduction of Rebecca
oil on canvas; 82 x 100 cm (32 x 40 in)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The animated composition follows a rigorously studied plan, its balance established by two main right-angled axes. The vertical axis falls from the edge of the tower to the right hands of the horseman and the girl, then to the left leg of the abductor seen from behind. The horizontal axis is lower down, passing through the feet of the standing abductor and the rear hooves of the horse. Above this axis, the movement of the composition is arranged in a series of intersecting lines and contours.

The painting is full of energy and drama. This shines through, not only from the compositional plan, but also from the dominant line from which the form is composed. The use of curved lines accentuates the sense of continuous, dramatic movement, resiliently bounding and rebounding from one form to another. The dynamic tension of these curves binds together each element of the composition, creating a single dramatic whole.

A closer look at the juxtaposition of colours reveals the careful preliminary research and planning that characterizes Delacroix's work. The pure colours are laid on the canvas in adjacent tones that anticipate the experiments of the Impressionists. The contrast is made up of complementary warm and cold tones, for example, the red cloth and the green saddle, the blue area of the sky among the orange clouds and the brown of the horse's mane. The background has cold touches of green alternating with warm burnt ochre. The basis of the painting is the rhythmical cadence of blue-greens and brown-reds, and flashes of white tinged with flesh fortes or silver.

The vigour of the brushwork is key to the painting's powerful effect. The artist s movements are immediate and energetic, evident in the flowing brushstrokes. Light also plays an important role in the strong emotive content of the picture. In the atmosphere darkened by the smoke of the fire, the light floods on to the two "good" figures, the woman and the knight rushing to her assistance. The light makes them the two focal points of the scene, although more space is given to the abductors and the horse. Particularly successful is the dramatic way in which the artist captures every posture, gesture, and movement of both the humans and the animals.

The castle ramparts emerge from the darkened background of smoke like an apparition. The smoke spirals up in great plumes, painted with energetic brushstrokes. Although the smoke is contained in the upper third of the picture, the light it reflects invades the scene in the foreground. The orange in the clouds and the red and yellow streaks in the flames serve as indications of movement in the scene.


Eugene Delacroix
The Abduction of Rebecca
Artists have illustrated the exploits of monarchs and generals since antiquity. Among the most celebrated examples are the high reliefs of the Arch of Constantine and Trajan's Column; the lost fresco cycle of Charlemagne's palace at Aachen, depicting the emperor's victories in Spain; and Andrea Mantegna 's historic portraits of the family of the marquesses of Mantua in the camera picta of the castle of San Giorgio ( 1471—74). Entire Italian dynasties were portrayed in vast cycles: Alessandro Farnese (who became Pope Paul III in 1534) employed Francesco Salviati  and Taddeo Zuccari, while Giorgio Vasari began the apotheosis of the House of Medici in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence in 1556. Later, Peter Paul Rubens executed a series of paintings to glorify Henry IV and Marie de' Medicis for the Luxembourg Palace in Paris (1625). As for the Spanish, Lorenzo Tiepolo was summoned to Madrid by the monarch Charles III and paid to exalt the sovereign, the dynasty, and its victories. His Glory of Spain (1765) on the ceiling of the throne room of the Royal Palace celebrated the whole royal family. The Napoleonic occupation of Spain ended in 1814, but even before the restoration of Ferdinand VII. Goyabegan works commemorating events that took place during the Spanish uprising. His Third of May 1808(1814) marked a turning-point in artistic representation of war, as the tragedy of human conflict had never before been portrayed with such pitiless honesty.  
study of a woman's head for
This approach had nothing to do with the heroism and chivalry of conventional historical painting; instead, it deals with the death of liberty, with the artist acting as spokesperson for the people. The power of his expression of horror, outrage, and violence would not find its equivalent until the 20th century with Picasso's Guernica (1937) and with portrayals of previously unimagined devastation, such as Hiroshima Cycle by Arnulf Rainer. In one of the most famous — and controversial — political paintings of the 19th century, Liberty leading the People (28 July 1830). Delacroix celebrates the Parisian uprisings of 1830. The heroine, who holds aloft the French flag, personifies a new collective hero in art: the people.

Eugene Delacroix
Liberty leading the People (28 July 1830)

Taddeo Zuccari
Pietro Farnese

Piter Paul Rubems
Apotheosis of Henry IV and Proclamation of the Regency of Marie de' Medicis

Francisco Goya
Not Even These

Arnulf Rainer
Hiroshima Cycle

The subject of death, which had been portrayed by the Neoclassicists as a moment of universal nobility for humanity in general, became for the Romantics an artistic device for the expression of individual tragedy. The same themes that had been illustrated by David or Canova were now burdened with a dark sense of tragedy. Dead or dying figures became symbols of disintegration and decay, particularly, as seen in the despairing figures painted byGericault and Delacroix.
The past became almost an organic and changing state of decay rather than the static moment captured in Neoclassical painting. The Death of Sardanapcilus, which illustrates a mythical antiquity with precision and detail, is similar in mood to that evoked by Gustave Flaubert's novel Salammbo (1862), set in ancient Carthage. Delacroixexpresses the relentless certainty of dissolution and decay; his use of sumptuous decoration is a veneer that conceals the inevitable progress towards death. The painting was harshly criticized for its rejection of French classicism in both subject matter and style, not least its bold and dynamic treatment of colour. Sleep, too, can be seen as a state in close proximity to death. 


Eugene Delacroix
The Death of Sardanapcilus
In The Sleep of Endvmion by Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson (1767-1824), the sleeping figure of Endymion, with his young, almost childlike body, is bathed in such an intense light that it seems it could almost consume him - a reminder of the closeness of the state of sleep to that of death. His interpretation, a reminder of the fleeting mortality of both individuals and society, contrasts with the earlier Neoclassical idealization of the past through myth. The American historical painter Benjamin West (1738-1820) returned many times to the theme of death and was successful in portraying contemporary scenes of war and destruction with the pathos and heroism of a classical tragedy, while still investing his work with an immediacy and contemporary relevance. His apocalyptic Death on a Pale Horse, was important in the Romantic movement, and it was hailed as prefiguring Delacroix. West settled in London in 1763, and became the most successful historical painter of his day, enjoying a profitable association with George III. He succeeded Reynolds as President of the Roval Academy in 1792.

Anne-Louis Girodet Trioson
The Sleep of Endymion

Benjamin West
Death on a Pale Horse

Anne-Louis Girodet Trioson
The Burial of Atala