Romanticism was a literary and artistic movement that originated in the late eighteenth century and remained popular until around 1850. It was a reaction against the crushing of the human spirit and rote order that the Industrial Revolution demanded. It also rejected the Age of Enlightenment  and its scientific rationalization of nature. The movement emphasized strong emotions, especially horror, awe and apprehension, in the face of nature. The emphasis of feeling in Romanticism is best summoned by German painter Casper David Friedrich that the “artist’s feeling is his law”. In order to express these feelings the artist must look deep inside his psyche with as little outside influence of societal, scholarly or familial expectations and norms as possible.

As such, the influence of models from other works would impede on the artist’s imagination as well, so originality was much emphasized. The ability to “create from nothingness” was essential. The Romanticist painter does not seek to uphold a Platonic sense of beauty and hold a mirror to nature, but must be seek to create guided by individual creativity and spiritual freedom only.




Realism was an artistic movement that began in France after the 1850’s. It rejected Romanticism, which dominated the French art since the late 18th century. It rejected the exaggeration of emotions and drama of Romanticism. It sought to depict all classes of people in everyday life with truth and accuracy. The Realists did not try to gloss over depictions of everyday life that were ugly or sordid. Realism depicted the changes in life due to rise of Industrialism at the time.  It tried to avoid depicting subjects in a heroic or sentimental manner in Classical Idealism, or overemphasis on emotions with Romanticism. As Realism became adopted in the mainstream of painting, the term became less and less useful as time went on. After the introduction of Impressionism, the term Realism may simply mean adopting a tighter, more traditional style using more precise brushwork.

Post Impressionism

Post  Impressionism was an late nineteenth century art movement originating in France.
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The Post  Impressionists were dissatisfied with the Impressionist  movement preceding it. They were more disappointed with the Impressionism’s trivial subject matter and overemphasis on capturing optical illusions, namely the play of natural sunlight on subject matter. Post Impressionism continued Impressionism’s influence using vivid colors, and thicker applications of paint opposed to the finer brushstrokes in traditional oil paintings used by the Old Masters, but were more inclined to emphasize geometric forms, and to use form for expressive effects and to use unnatural color schemes.

Post  Impressionism is known for its emotional honesty, capturing emotions such as fear, eroticism, or whimsy. One gets the sense the artist is not concerned with capturing the subject matter in as realistic manner as possible, but rather the emotional world that inspires the artist to enter upon observing said subject matter. Consider the wild movements of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Starry Night”.

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Impressionism was a 19th-century arts movement originating with a group of Paris-based artists, that became popular despite opposition from the conventional art community at the time. The characteristics of Impressionism is thus: short, thick, visible brushstrokes, emphasis on depiction of the changing qualities of light, emphasis on capturing movement , and depiction of ordinary subject matter.

The Impressionists were considered to be radicals of their time,  violating the rules of academic painting. They painted freely brushed colors instead of paying too much attention to lines and contour. They also liked to depict realistic scenes of modern life and often painted outdoors. Still lifes, portraits and even landscapes were painted indoors before the Impressionists. At first the public shared the art establishment’s hostility towards this new movement, but eventually they came to accept the Impressionistic movement’s fresh vision on painting.

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