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Romantic Art

            Romanticism was an artistic, literary, and philosophical movement in Western civilization from the late 18th to the mid-19th century. This movement was the result of the rejection of the ideas of 18th century Neoclassicism. During this period, a greater emphasis was put on the individual and emotion was valued over rationality or intellect. Furthermore, there was a deepened appreciation for the beauty of nature and a general rejection of formal rules and traditional procedures. Two examples of art from this period are Jasper Cropsey's The Old Homestead, Wyoming Valley from 1865 (Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, inv. No. 1981.007) and John Constable's The Cornfield painted in 1826 (National Gallery, London). Although each of these paintings are quintessential examples of 19th century landscapes, they differ in many facets.
             Jasper Cropsey's The Old Homestead, Wyoming Valley is an American landscape painted in the Luminist style with oil on canvas. The painting depicts the view of a valley with gently rolling hills and trees against a background of mountains and a cloudy sky from atop a hill at dusk. The main subjects of the painting are three men baling hay in the center of the foreground. There figures provide a focal point for the viewer, because they are the subject of the only action present. Two men are working with pitchforks while a third man is seen wearing a contrasting red shirt and sitting on top of hay bales in a cart pulled by a horse. Furthermore, there are two figures shown to the right of the foreground relaxing under the protection of a large tree. This scene is important because it provides the main source of perspective for the viewer. By being able to compare the relative size of the men with the tree, one is able to decipher the size of the tree and its distance from the vantage point, establishing a realistic sense of scale. One man wearing a red shirt is sitting with his back against the trunk of the tree, while the other man is lying on his belly and resting on his forearms.

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