Romantic and Neo-Classic Art

Watteau's The Storm and Delacroix's The Sea of Galilee both depict the development of art and adherence to the Greek and Roman ideals depicting the subject matter which is nature. The two paintings exhibit distinct characteristics of the two periods. The Storm by Watteau is a neoclassical painting because it follows the neoclassical views on painting. Here, man is given chance to overcome nature’s wrath (David, 1997). The art emphasizes tradition and rationality as the subject matter of the painting. The painting shows a rural landscape during harvest time when a summer storm pulls up. We are able to see the effect it has on the people in the field. The tree is shaken up as a shepherd is almost blown away by the wind. In the painting, some peasants are focusing their attention on the raging storm, while others are trying their best to complete gathering the harvest before the rain comes. We are able to focus our attention on the people’s anxiety to get home but not on the storm itself. We are unable to focus on the aftermath since we know that these people will be at the comfort of their homes when the rains fall.

Watteau used simple artistic creativity to design the features, landscape, and the people in it. Additionally, the storm’s power is not as striking as we would expect, and this makes the work neoclassical since it focuses majorly on man. The storm is calm, tame, and timely. The atmosphere is not harsh and the effect of light is not clearly emphasized since the storm is clear, simply represented and severe in its appearance. The simplicity is outlined alongside the emphasis put on structure over color; light and atmosphere form the basic principles of neoclassical painting. Another neoclassic feature is the idea of historical accuracy. Watteau tried to be historically accurate through the costume designs depicted in the setting. Neoclassics had a belief that man had supreme power over all, and he is the centre of all truth and thought. Through their work, they attempted to achieve perfection that is reflected in the saying by Alexander Pope that proper study of mankind was man (Lawrence et al, 2009). A linear style feature of painting is eminent in Watteau’s painting. He was able to define the shapes of the objects as sharply as possible.

On the other hand, Delacroix painting The Sea of Galilee follows romantic ideologies. Romantic paintings adhered to adding value of emotion on paintings. Their focus was on the nature surrounding man. The painting depicts the storm but focuses on its might. The sea is surging under its strength, and a small boat having broken the sail is almost capsizing. The seafarers are desperately trying to keep the boat floating. The seafarers see no hope in trying to fight the storm. Through the furry of the storm, they certainly know that they will face death. The artist, therefore, manages to outline the main theme of romantic art movement. He portrays the power of nature and how man is unable to overcome it (Hobbs & Duncan, 1991).

Emotions are portrayed in the painting since despair dominates the scene. However, despite this, the artist is able to create the beauty of nature. This is achieved through vivacity and colorfulness of the terrible storm. Romanticists believed in the guiding forces of nature and supernatural elements (Craske, 1997). They thought that nature held all the truth, and thus the artists were impassioned and held beauty in high esteem. Delacroix painted using the painterly style where the freedom of color took precedence over the shapes of the objects. The objects painted in The Storm have shapes that are depicted by bold strokes of paint. We are also able to see blurry human forms. This depicts romantic style of painting.

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