The Lure of Nature: Romanticism as a Reaction to Rationalism

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) was a German Romantic painter. His oil painting Wanderer above the Sea of Fog shows a young man looking into a mysterious landscape representing the unknown future. Romanticism was a reaction to the rationalism of the Age of Enlightenment and the soulless factories of The Industrial Revolution. It dealt with emotion, spirituality and disenchantment in materialism. German-American Albert Bierstadt (1830 -1902) was apart of the Hudson River School whose artists painted landscapes influenced by Romanticism. He was known for his dramatic depictions of the American West as in Storm in the Rocky Mountains. The landscapes and seascapes of American Albert Pinkham Ryder (1847- 1917) took romanticism into Tonalism as in his moody The Flying Dutchman. Like Friedrich’s Wanderer, Ryder often chose man and his relation to nature as the subject of his paintings.