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European & American 19th Century Art

<Albrecht Durer>

19th Century European Art

Many changes occurred in Europe during the nineteenth century. Considered by historian Eric Hobsbawum to be the “long century,” it is frequently spoken of as extending from the French Revolution in 1789 to the outbreak of World War I in 1914. With traumatic events such as these book ending the time period in addition to the later phases of the Industrial Revolution running their course, it is no wonder this long century was one of fruitful exploration of artistic variation.

Many interesting and distinct artistic movements emerged during the 19th century, and transcontinental sharing of styles became more common then ever with the advent of train travel and improved forms of communication. These modern amenities not only allowed for the quicker transfer of ideas but also became the subject of art in their own right. Movements such as Impressionism often captured modern scenes and their ephemeral characteristics while the Art Nouveau style seemed to capture the energy associated with such changes. Other movements rejected, ignored, or fought against the changes the 19th century brought.

(including but not limited to)
(including but not limited to)
William Blake   Neoclassicism
Eugene Delacroix   Romanticism
Casper David Friedrich   Realism
Gericault   Orientalism
Francisco de Goya   Symbolism
JMW Turner   Impressionism
    Arts and Crafts
    Art Nouveau

19th Century American Art

The nineteenth century was a century of rapid change for the United States. Only recently free from war with the British after the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the United States had to fight for legitimacy on the world stage and consolidate its boundaries. After the War of 1812, the nation was finally recognized as viable and permanent, and politicians and the people alike took to expanding the boundaries, pushing west into unchartered territory. This spirit of exploration and recent liberation had a deep impact on the American art of the time. Transcendentalism highlighted the sublime elements of this amazing natural beauty that was distinctly American, and artists rushed to the recently discovered natural wonders to render them in pencil or oil.

Exploration of undeveloped land of a vast array of climates and features was not the only issue reflected upon by artists in the nineteenth century. The Civil War was a showcase not only of internal turmoil but also of rapid industrialization. The nineteenth century, unlike any other period before, kept normal citizens and artists alike in a constant state of flux, and artists struggled to make sense of the changes.

Former Europeans, the Americans were naturally influenced by their cultural counterparts. Famous artists and students alike traveled from their homes in the United States to Europe in order to connect with the scenery, their artistic heritage, and the contemporary artists who were awash in new ideas. Art movements popular across the Atlantic soon took root in America, but often manifested themselves in unique ways.  

(including but not limited to)
(including but not limited to)
Mary Cassatt   Transcendentalism
William Merritt Chase   Folk Art
Childe Hassam   American Impressionism
John Singer Sargent    
James McNeill Whistler    


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