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(b Frankfurt am Main, Aug 28, 1749; d Weimar, March 22, 1832).

German writer, statesman, scientist, historian and theorist. By virtue of his prodigious literary output, his writings on art (notably in collaboration with Friedrich Schiller), his patronage as chief minister of Weimar, the extraordinary variety of his interests, and his sheer longevity, he had a profound influence on European culture.

Goethe began writing in the late 1760s, when the Romantic reaction against Neo-classicism had already started. The Rococo view of the Classical heritage, which stressed the formal elegance and rationality of the Greeks, was being dismantled by such writers as Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Joachim Winckelmann and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, all of whom influenced Goethe. Herder’s study of folk art, Homer and the Bible concurred with Goethe’s celebration of Shakespeare—in Rede zum Shäkespears Tag (1771)—and of Gothic art—in Von deutscher Baukunst (1772)—in acknowledging the role of passion and daemonic energy in art. These elements, it was claimed, were also present in Classical art; this contrasted with the Neo-classical emphasis on its rationality. This period of Goethe’s life produced such characteristically Romantic poems as ...

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Howard Caygill

(b Mohrungen, Aug 25, 1744; d Weimar, Dec 18, 1803).

German theorist. He was the most consistent and influential critic of German Enlightenment philosophy and aesthetic theory. His impeccable Enlightenment pedigree as a student of Kant at the University of Königsberg in the early 1760s and his acquaintance with Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert during his visit to Paris in 1769 were combined with a friendship and sympathy for the person and works of Johann Georg Hamann and other professed opponents of the Enlightenment. His insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the Enlightenment enabled him to offer an alternative theoretical basis for the work of the younger Sturm und Drang writers of the 1770s, headed by Goethe. In 1776 he was appointed at Goethe’s behest to the post of General Superintendent of the Lutheran Church in Weimar, where he remained until his death.

Although Herder published in several fields, ranging from the philosophy of language and epistemology to aesthetics and theology, all he wrote revolved around a critique of the ahistorical character of the German Enlightenment. His thought combines two main elements: the recognition that reason is grounded in sentiment, a position later described as ‘metacritical’; and the perception that the grounding of reason is the product of a specific history, and cannot be understood apart from it....

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David Rodgers

(b Wormsley Grange, Hereford & Worcs, Feb 11, 1751; d London, April 23, 1824).

English writer, connoisseur and collector (see fig.). He was the son of a clergyman from a wealthy dynasty of iron-masters. His father died in 1764, and shortly afterwards he inherited a considerable estate from his uncle, which ensured his financial independence. He was a sickly child and was educated at home, becoming well versed in Classical history, Latin and Greek. In 1772 he travelled in France and Italy and was abroad again in 1776, touring Switzerland with the landscape painter John Robert Cozens. The following year he travelled to Sicily on an archaeological expedition taking with him the painters Philipp Hackert and his pupil, the amateur artist Charles Gore (1729–1807). Knight kept a detailed journal (Weimar, Goethe- & Schiller-Archv) illustrated by his companions and on his return to England commissioned Cozens and Thomas Hearne to paint watercolours (London, BM) from Hackert’s and Gore’s sketches (London, BM). It seems probable that the journal was intended for publication and that the expedition may have had an entrepreneurial aspect, as archaeology was a fashionable subject and the Sicilian sites largely unexplored....

Article

Martin Postle

(b 1747; d Yazor, Hereford & Worcs, Sept 14, 1829).

English landowner and writer. He was one of the leading promoters of the Picturesque, a quasi-aesthetic theory concerning the codification of types of landscape; this enjoyed a brief popularity in England at the end of the 18th century. In 1794 Price published An Essay on the Picturesque. The book was written to expand and redefine observations on the nature of Picturesque Beauty made during the 1770s and 1780s by the Rev. William Gilpin. In his essay of 1794 Price employed the term Picturesque to describe a category of landscape that evoked sensations that were not contained within the existing polarities of Sublime and Beautiful, established earlier in the century by Edmund Burke (A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful; 1757). According to Price ‘the two opposite qualities of roughness, and of sudden variation, joined to that of irregularity, are the most efficient causes of the picturesque’. Price loved systems and organized objects in nature—trees, animals and dwellings—into tables according to their level of picturesqueness. Thus in his view hovels are more picturesque than cottages, cows more picturesque than horses, idle peasants more picturesque than working ones, and so on. Price’s theories inspired, among other things, Thomas Rowlandson’s satirical illustrations to ...