The purpose of this series of classes is to try to define the complex business that was Romanticism. A movement and not a style, the term derives from the Medieval word romance; a story or a narrative, and these became popular at the end of the eighteenth century. Romantic artists focused on emotion, imagination, irrationality, and man’s relationship with nature. They depicted scenes from the past, the exotic, and the supernatural and explored dark and terrible subjects.
Romantic painters depicted contemporary historical events. The turbulent years of the French Revolutions and the Napoleonic Empire fuelled the Romantic fascination with war, political idealism, human suffering and emotion. According to C.D Friedrich, one of the movement’s chief exponents, “The artists feeling is his law.”
Every session will be a mixture of lectures, close analysis of artworks, group discussions and presentations. The course will run over eight sessions of one and a half hours each, and will be suitable for prospective university students who want to broaden their understanding of this period of Art History, mature students who would like to refresh their understanding and knowledge of Romanticism, and those who are simply intellectually curious and keen to discover more about such a fascinating cultural phenomenon in the arts.
The course is a chance to engage with ideas, concepts and aesthetics through the lens of disparate denizens of European Romanticism, who, whilst celebrating their individuality, shared a collective desire to eschew a strict classical paradigm in favour of a more libertarian approach.
Participants can join for the whole course or join on a session-by-session basis (including joining their first session as a free taster class). When joining any paid class participants will receive access to a video recording of previous sessions in the series.
Introductory Class Outline
This taster course will include the following:
- Taster class: The rise of the individual and the romantic malady of the soul – Romanticism in the Arts
Full Course Outline
- Lesson 1: Elan and the romantic rebellion in France: Géricault and Delacroix
- Lesson 2: Caprices and the disasters of war – Romanticism in Spain: Goya
- Lesson 3: Anti-French German nationalism and the sublime landscape: Friedrich
- Lesson 4: England’s green and pleasant lands: Turner and Constable
The first part of the course is aimed at introducing everyone to the artistic, historical and social milieu in the period c.1790-1840 as a form of contextual scene-setter. This will, to an extent, provide a rationale for the Romanticists’ introspective mindset, dubbed ‘the malady of the soul.’ Art historically, two counter movements prevailed, giving rise to the dispute among the members of the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture between the Poussinists and the Rubenists. Put more simply, drawing versus colour.
The subsequent sessions will introduce students to the idiosyncratic lexicon of Romanticism in different European countries, and with it such seminal protagonists as Géricault, Turner and Goya. Intellectual and philosophical notions of reason and individualism over tradition stemmed from Enlightenment thinking. This culminated in unprecedented historical change and revolutions in politics, thought and artistic self-expression. In the final session of the course we will explore the legacy Romanticism left and whose tremors and artistic repercussions can still be felt today.
A detailed recommended reading list will be provided, along with a gazetteer of major European collections best suited to the viewing of Romantic masterworks.
Nick is Head of History of Art at Cheltenham College where he teaches Art, History of Art, Architecture, English, Classical Civilisation, Theology, Philosophy & Ethics and Music.
Nick has lectured for The Friends of the Wilson, The Arts Society, Marlborough College Summer School, Soho House Group and more. He regularly runs courses in Art History for adults at Barnsley House near Cirencester, in Avebury in Wiltshire and at Marlborough College Summer School. He has appeared on the radio on several occasions to discuss cultural happenings, for Radio 4, Corinium Radio and Radio Gloucestershire.
In 2014 Nick co-founded Arcadia Education for Art History with his wife Katie; a company aimed at sharing art and culture via lectures, study days, private tutoring and cultural tours.
Nick lives in Cheltenham and lectures around the world on a wide range of topics from the Renaissance to Modernism, with a special interest in forging links between art, music and literature. He has recently raised £4,000 for the NHS through his initiative ‘Culture in Quarantine’ by delivering free lectures online. Nick also conducts courses on Shakespeare via Zoom to students in Hong Kong and New Zealand.
- Format: Live online group classes
- Maximum Class Size: Class sizes are kept deliberately small, ensuring participants have the opportunity to interact with the course teacher through Q&A discussions within each session
- Platform: Lessons will take place on Zoom. All sessions are recorded and made available to participants, allowing you to review material or catch up on any missed sessions.