National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

Tour: Romantics and Realists

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image of Beach in Normandy
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Romantic has always been an elusive label -- in 1836 one wag concluded that romanticism "consisted in not shaving, and in wearing vests with heavily starched lapels." Delacroix, who in fact declined to identify himself as a romantic, is often set opposite the "classical" Ingres. Yet both produced romantic works exploring literary, historical, or purely imaginary, often exotic, themes: Delacroix with freely painted, energetic compositions and vivid color, Ingres with carefully controlled but evocative contours and highly refined surfaces. More than defining a style, romanticism suggests an inspiration in the creative imagination and an intense, personal response. In 1846 the poet and critic Charles Baudelaire answered his own question "What is romanticism?" by calling it "a manner of feeling." (continue)


1Théodore Gericault, Mounted Trumpeters of Napoleon's Imperial Guard, 1813/1814
2Horace Vernet, Hunting in the Pontine Marshes, 1833
3Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Forest of Fontainebleau, 1834
4Constant Troyon, The Approaching Storm, 1849
5Eugène Delacroix, Christopher Columbus and His Son at La Rábida, 1838
6Eugène Delacroix, Arabs Skirmishing in the Mountains, 1863
7Gustave Courbet, Beach in Normandy, c. 1872/1875