- Jim Samson
A movement or, more commonly, period of cultural history. When understood as a period, Romanticism is usually identified with either the first half or the whole of the 19th century. The term is used with reference primarily to the arts, but it can also embrace philosophy, socio-political history and, more widely, the ‘spirit’ of the era.
In literature Romanticism is commonly taken to cover roughly the first half of the 19th century, though the philosophical origins of the movement lie well back in the previous century. Literary Romanticism took its definitive form in the late 18th century in polemical and creative writings by the Schlegel brothers and their circle in Germany, and in the early 19th century by Wordsworth and Coleridge in England, and by Lamartine and Hugo in France. It is usually accepted that Romantic features continued to exert an influence after the middle of the century, but as a period term ‘Romanticism’ gives way at that point to ‘Realism’ and ‘Symbolism’, movements associated initially with French writers. Historians of the visual arts have conventionally adopted a broadly similar chronology, identifying early Romantics such as Géricault and Delacroix in France, Turner in England and Caspar David Friedrich in Germany, and again arguing for a dispersal of the original Romantic impetus following the middle of the century (...