Podcast Episode 17: Romanticism in England, Part Two

NAMING LANDSCAPES IN ENGLAND

Part Two

“Nature” in England acquired a new identity after the Napoléonic Wars. In response to the completion of the Enclosure Movement and the spread of private ownership of vast expanses of land, an economic response to profit opportunities was interpreted through several new aesthetic theories that are uniquely English. Landscapes were divided into categories: the Sublime and the Beautiful and the Picturesque. Linked to English literature—novels and poetry—the “picturesque” is a very English form of landscape which inspired many important theoretical writings that defined the nostalgic elegiac English countryside.

Also listen to “English Romanticism and Turner” and “Romanticism in England, Part One”

and “Romanticism and Constable”

If you have found this material useful, please give credit to
Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed.

Thank you.
[email protected]

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Schiller: Naive and Sentimental Poetry

Art and Nature

Schiller’s “Naïve and Sentimental Poetry”

On the Aesthetic Education of Man was written as a series of letters to the Duke of Augustenburg and was published in 1795 and 1801, and published just before “Naïve and Sentimental Poetry,” also written in 1795. Called “one of the greatest essays in the German language” by writer Thomas Mann, Über naive und sentimentalische Dichtung, a highly influential essay was a response to his friendship with Germany’s most celebrated Romantic poet, Göethe, comparing himself as a poet to his friend as a poet. Johann Wolfgang von Göethe had written the quintessential work of German Romanticism, the rather overwrought, Sorrows of Young Werther, the fictional version of his many youthful love affairs. However, as he matured, Göethe assumed a mantle of dignity, of near-Olympian calm, and repudiated Romanticism as “sick” and extolled (neo) Classicism as “healthy.” The famous friendship got off to a rocky start. Göethe spurned the advances of the younger poet whose dramatic plays were associated with Romanticism. And Schiller, for his part, viewed Göethe with antipathy, distrusting the apparent ease with which poetry apparently flowed from this distinguished inhabitant of Olympia. Nevertheless, the younger poet who experienced creative agonies and self-doubts was driven by a need to understand Göethe and pursued the poet. The two men eventually succeeded in achieving a meeting of the minds and their consequent correspondence and collaboration is of great importance to German literature. “Naïve and Sentimental Poetry,” published in the journal, Die Horen, seems to pit Göethe, the naïve poet, against Schiller, the sentimental poet. The essay is an early and influential effort to sort out types of artists, as makers and as psychologies. The words “Naïve and Sentimental” refer to both poets and to poetry, not to themes, subject matter, or content. These types of artists are seen by Schiller as opposites, somewhat like Kant’s antinomies—a way of organizing the world in terms of contrasts–as personifying two different modes of creativity.

As can be seen in The Aesthetic Education of Man, Schiller was a student of human psychology and feelings and was an astute observer of states of mind long before the profession of psychology was established. Naïve and Sentimental Poetry, published just after Aesthetic Education in Die Horen, is a companion piece, expounding on some of the same themes. Once again, Schiller returned to the ideal period of ancient Greece when humans lived in harmony with nature. The poet was writing at the end of the eighteenth century, at the end of an era, the last years of a time when untouched “nature” still existed in modern Europe. Already in England, the Enclosure Movement was well underway, fencing in fields, walling in pastures, blocking the population from “trespasssing” on private property. The Commons were closing in the name of profit. The Industrial Revolution was also spreading across England, with factories springing up in the countryside, already belching smoke and cinders. The German territories were, as yet, undisturbed; but Schiller seemed to have sensed something coming, for, like his counterpart, Caspar David Friedrich, began to contemplate nature as if it were a quality with psychological implications. He begins his essay on this theme of “interest in nature:”

This kind of interest in nature takes place, however, only under two conditions. First, it is entirely necessary, that the object which infuses us with the same, be nature or certainly be held by us therefor; second, that it (in the broadest meaning of the word) be naïve, i.e., that nature stand in contrast with art and shame her. So soon as the last is added to the first, and not before, nature is changed into the naive.

It is here that the famous “compare and contrast” methodology of art historical discourse begins, for Schiller’s comparative pairing of nature and art and of contrasting poets will be copied by the early twentieth-century art historian, Aby Warburg, who was also fascinated by psychological themes. That being said, Schiller’s ultimate purpose went beyond his purpose of understanding two kinds of genius and two means of artistic creation. He analyzed modes of perception, ways of being, and ways of living in the world, ways of relating and responding, not only to nature itself but also to one’s own inner nature, to the structure of one’s own mind. In establishing between psychological types, Schiller paved the way for later thinkers, such as Freud and Jung, Nietzsche and Dilthey, and James. But Schiller’s aesthetic is also a moral philosophy. The essay was an examination of the human being and the human condition in a world that is so modern it had yet to be defined, discussed or understood. Schiller’s predecessor in grappling with the new place of nature in the newly industrialized society was Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) who advocated a turning away from the artificiality of French society to the simplicity of nature to rediscover the “natural” human being, free of civilization and its “discontents,” as Freud would express it later. Rousseau, a precursor of Kant on the subject of ethics and of Schiller on the subject of nature, published the Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men, or the “Second Discourse,” in 1755, where he explored not so much inequality itself but human nature and how social orders allow inequality to exist. Like Schiller after him, Rousseau returned to “natural man.” He imagined that, in a state of nature, “primitive man,” as the philosopher termed him, there was no inequality. However, in the “Second Part,” as Rousseau continued to speculate,

But from the moment one man began to stand in need of the help of another; from the moment it appeared advantageous to any one man to have enough provisions for two, equality disappeared, property was introduced, work became indispensable, and vast forests became smiling fields, which man had to water with the sweat of his brow, and where slavery and misery were soon seen to germinate and grow up with the crops. Metallurgy and agriculture were the two arts which produced this great revolution. The poets tell us it was gold and silver, but, for the philosophers, it was iron and corn, which first civilised men, and ruined humanity.

Like Engels would posit a hundred years later, classes emerge when the establishment of agriculture, which, in turn, evolves into private property. Both Rousseau and Engels searched for and located an original sin which precipitated the Fall. Rousseau wrote with bitter words,

Such was, or may well have been, the origin of society and law, which bound new fetters on the poor, and gave new powers to the rich; which irretrievably destroyed natural liberty, eternally fixed the law of property and inequality, converted clever usurpation into unalterable right, and, for the advantage of a few ambitious individuals, subjected all mankind to perpetual labour, slavery and wretchedness.

As one of the originators of the notion of psychological types, Schiller led the way to the nineteenth century and to Modernism, for his world is far more “civilized” than that of R. Both philosophers (who would influence Freud on this point) understood civilization to be necessary and inevitable and unavoidable, the result of Rousseau’s “Social Contract,” but the social system has built a wall of rules, regulations, and conventions that were entirely artificial. Trapped in the social system, blindly following its customs and mores, we are alienated from nature and the natural. We have lost our sense of oneness, our feelings of harmony with our world. Worse yet, we are alienated from ourselves, divided within our own minds, disconnected from the totality of our own being. Responding to a system that purports to be “rational,” we struggle with our irrational side, repressing it until we are alienated not only from the “natural” but also from a part of our own selves. Thus we, as humans in the modern world, are alienated from nature itself, which is neither rational nor irrational; it simply exists, as Schiller wrote, as “subsistence of things through themselves, existence according to its own unalterable laws.” Nature is its own being in a state of purity, which we, in our divided state, can no longer comprehend or connect with. In our alienated condition—alienated from ourselves and from our fellow human beings—we can only respond to nature through the distorting filters of civilization. Our varying modes of perception—“Naïve“ or “Sentimental”—can never encounter nature, the pure state of being. Such unity with us and nature must wait until we reach our own natural state of harmony within ourselves and our natural environment.

Unlike Rousseau, Schiller does not present “Natural Man” as a lost state but a goal we must aim for. This goal cannot be reached in an individual’s lifetime but can be achieved only through successive generations, which must struggle to regain wholeness, harmony, and unity, both internally, within the individual, and externally, with nature. This modern concept of the alienated human being seeking a lost unity would be of great consequence to nineteenth and twentieth Century thought. The author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, writing somewhat later than Schiller, also warned that we have become estranged and alienated from ourselves and from nature. As the allegory of the creation of Frankenstein’s monster shows, we have become deluded into playing God through the misuse of technology. G. W. F. Hegel will write of “thesis,” “antithesis,” and “synthesis,” the ultimate Absolute unity. Karl Marx will write of “alienation” of the working class from industrial products and will warn that humans have become so alienated that we are no longer aware of it and exist in a state of “false consciousness.” Marx’s “alienation” was sociological due to economic causes. Jacques Lacan will write of Lack, resulting from the human’s entry into society and the severing of the child from its mother (loss of unity and wholeness). Alienation will become a major theme and perhaps the definition of the condition of Modernity itself.

Thus aesthetic philosophy becomes a moral philosophy and art becomes an arena for self-actualization, a way of thought to counter the evils of artificiality and civilization. For Schiller, in “Naïve and Sentimental Poetry,” all art is inferior to nature but all art must begin with nature. Art becomes a way of reacting to ourselves and a means of responding to nature. Nature takes on a dual meaning: nature is the world surrounding us and our own individual personalities. Art also seems to assume duality, being equated at times with that which is artificial, in other words with a wide range of artifacts, works, and activities, while, at other times, art is the natural product of a creative process. Art was a means of restoring a natural balance in personality. Art was a journey towards a purer morality and an exposition of the nature of artistic genius that rises above artificial rules and ideas on morality. The role of free play of imagination in art and the artist as a genius is indebted to Kant. Six decades later, perhaps thinking of Schiller, Emil Zola famously wrote of “nature seen through a corner of a temperament” to define art, which is, in those terms, a response to nature shaped by the personality of the artist.

Schiller began his analysis of artistic temperaments with a discussion on the innocence of children, writing “…the child is to us a vivid representation of the ideal, not indeed of the fulfilled, but of the commissioned, and it is therefore by no means the conception of its poverty and limits, it is quite to the contrary the conception of its pure and free force, its integrity, its infinity, which moves us. To the men of morality and feeling, a child will for that reason be a sacred object, an object namely, which through the greatness of an idea annihilates every greatness of experience; and which, whatever it may lose in the judgment of the understanding, gains again in the judgment of reason in ample measure…” Once again Schiller was prescient in writing of “childhood,” a new concept which would be fully developed in the nineteenth century. But the philosopher was writing of adults and he carefully distinguished between “childish” and “childlike.” Schiller wrote that “…the naive way of thinking excites in us. It combines the childlike simplicity with the childish; through the latter it exposes a vulnerable point to the understanding and calls forth that smile, whereby we make known our (theoretical) superiority. So soon, however, as we have reason to believe, that the childish simplicity be simultaneously a childlike one…” He used the directness of a child’s open heart and mind to define the naïve artist: “The naïve is a childlikeness, where it is no longer expected, and precisely for that reason, can not be attributed to real childhood in the strictest sense.”

For Schiller both the child and the “childlike” naïve artist are part of nature, suggesting that the adult is a rare being, surviving modern life without corruption and retaining a harmony with the natural world. He stated,

It is therefore required, that nature triumph over art, not through its blind violence as dynamical, but rather through its form as moral greatness, in short, not as need, but rather as inner necessity. Not the insufficiency, but rather the inadmissibility of the latter must procure the victory of the form; for the former is want, and nothing which originates from want can produce respect. Indeed, it is with regard to the naive of surprise, always the superiority of emotion and a want of reflection, which makes nature recognizable; but this want and that superiority still do not entirely constitute the naive, but rather merely provide the occasion, so that nature follows unhindered its moral nature, i.e., the law of harmony.

The naïve man (Schiller does not take women into consideration) is one who “overlooks their artificial and affected relations and keeps merely to simple nature.” In following Kant who popularized “genius,” Schiller sought to account for that state of creativity and determined that the ability to create is not only a natural or inborn inclination but is also rooted in nature itself:

Every true genius must be naive or it is not genius. Its naivetè alone makes it genius, and what it is in the intellectual and the aesthetical, it can not deny in the moral. Unaware of the rules, the crutches of weakness, the taskmaster of perversity, guided only by nature or instinct, its protecting angel, it walks calmly and safely through all the snares of false taste, in which, if it be not so prudent as to avoid it already from the distance, the non-genius will be unfailingly ensnared. It is only given to the genius, to be always at home outside the known and to enlarge nature, without going beyond it. Indeed, the latter sometimes happens to the great geniuses, but only because these have their fanciful moments, when protecting nature abandons them, because the power of example overpowers them, or the corrupted taste of their time leads them astray.

The genius has a “childlike character,” which is bashful and intelligent and modest, but there is another type of artist, the “sentimental” artist who experiences the “distress of culture and hear in the foreign country of art, the moving voice of the mother. So long as we were merely children of nature, we were happy and perfect; we have become free and have lost both. Therefrom originates a twofold and very unequal longing for nature, a longing for its happiness, a longing for its perfection. The sensuous man laments only the loss of the first; the moral one can mourn only for the loss of the other.” Schiller, once again, wrote expansively upon the perfection of Greece, based upon the fact that they “felt naturally,” and the consequent decline, resulting from our separation from nature: “Just as nature gradually begins to vanish from human life as experience and as the (acting and feeling) subject, so do we see it rise in the poetical world as idea and as object.” It is here that he made a profound statement that explains not just two different kinds of poets but also the modern relationship with nature and to ourselves. Schiller wrote,

The poets are everywhere, according to their concept, the guardian of nature. Where they can no longer entirely be the latter and already experience in themselves the destructive influence of capricious and artificial forms, or indeed have had to struggle with the same, then will they appear as the witnesses and the avengers of nature. They will either be nature, or they will seek the lost nature. Therefrom arise two entirely different kinds of poetry, through which the entire province of poetry is exhausted and measured out. All poets, who are really such, will, according to the time in which they flourish, or as accidental circumstances have influence upon their general education and upon their passing dispositions of mind, belong either to the naive or to the sentimental.

We feel, in reading Schiller, we are witnessing a tragedy of a society drifting towards complete alienation of human from nature and of human from human. We live, he explains in an “artificial age,” an age which displaced the naïve artist who was at odds with modern life “no longer in their proper place.” The “still pure” man “acts as an undivided sensouus unity and as an harmonizing whole.” The naïve poet merely follows simple nature and feeling” but “it is entirely different with the sentimental poet. The latter reflects upoin the impression…the object is here connected with an idea, and only in this connection does his poetical force rest.” “His representation will therefore be either satirical or it will…be elegiac; every sentimental poet will adhere to one of these two modes of feeling.” Schiller admired Göethe, the ultimate naïve poet, who was able to create “naturally” with “childlike” directness, and understood himself to be a sentimental poet, who was estranged from nature. This poet is in pain, pained by the “distance” from nature, meaning that he is an alienated observer, examining the world from a point of watchfulness rather than of immersion. The sentimental poet then can see nature only as a idea. With his divided consciousness, his self-conscious self-awareness, the poet is thoroughly modern, and, unlike his the naïve poet, was not out of place, but was a product of his own time. Rather than the unreflective naïve poet, who combined reason and feeling, the “sentimentalisch,” a term coined by Schiller, was split in two, with his mind and heart, his reason and feeling, separated.

Once again, we see the dialectical at work in Schiller, with human evolution being divided into two stages: the natural and the artificial, an opposition that must be overcome in a third state or synthesis which restores the original and primal unity of the natural and the ideal. At first glance, it might seem, that in his admiration for Göethe, Schiller thought the naïve artist to be superior but the opposite is true. A child of the Enlightenment, Schiller preferred progress over regression, and, understanding the price that has been paid, considered the sentimental artist to be an advance upon the naïve artist. The question is where would the sentimental artist eventually achieve the synthesis and the answer is distinctly non-Kantian. The sentimental artist would have to work at the level of the culture in the real world, a solution worked out in Aesthetic Education. Schiller’s sentimental artist, as presented in his seminal essay on the naïve and sentimental artist is an early example of a “Romantic “artist who cannot go back in time and who can belong only to his own time, faced with the task of transcending the chasam between nature and civilization. Unlike Rousseau, who, in Schiller’s opinion was regressive, the poet does not yearn for the past, but, like the sentimental artist, struggles to move forward. “…our feeling for nature,” he said, “is like the feeling of an invalid for health.” As H. B. Nisbet pointed out, the terms “naïve” and “sentimental” are not only used in unconventional ways but are also not aesthetic terms. Eventually Schiller suggested more conventional subsitutes, “realist” and “idealist,” or modes of perception (Empfindungsweisen).

Like Kant, Schiller must present a structure or a model, and, while the essay itself proceeds from thesis to antithesis and synthesis. The sentimental artist himself was divided into three parts as well–satire, elegy, and idyll, genres of poetry. Schiller then explained these stages of the sentimental and gave examples of contemporary poets, but it is possible to propose visual artists who would fulfill the “modes of perception.” Not long after Schiller’s early death, John Constable painted elegies of a vanishing England from the safety of his little corner in Dedham Vale in an idyllic and pastoral fashion. And then, for example, Courbet would have been perhaps a good fit for a naïve artist, if one ignores his deliberate and studied performance of a country bumpkin. A decade later, his avant-garde successor, Manet was obviously the satirical sentimental artist. These various positions or approaches on the part of these artists are modern ways to deal with the modern estrangement from nature–the satrical artist looks away from the natural and dives deeply into the artificial, while the elegic artist confronts nature and attempts to inhale its perfumes. The naïve artist is oblivious that time has passed and that the age is modern. When one tries to fit artists into Schiller’s slots, as it were, it immediately becomes apparent that the deep intelligence of the essay is its expression of the modern human condition, which is prelapsian, consumed with loss and longing, but without the desire to return to a state of nature. In his two part essay, Schiller does not sum up his argument, he merely stops writing and one can select a passage in the second part as a suitable last word: Nature has shown favor to the naive poet, to act always as an undivided unity, to be in every moment a self-reliant and perfect whole and to represent men in reality, according to their full value. To the sentimental one it has lent the power, or rather imprinted a living instinct, to reestablish out of himself that unity, which has been annulled in him by abstraction, to complete humanity in himself and to pass from a limited state to an infinite.

Nature has shown favor to the naive poet, to act always as an undivided unity, to be in every moment a self-reliant and perfect whole and to represent men in reality, according to their full value. To the sentimental one it has lent the power, or rather imprinted a living instinct, to reestablish out of himself that unity, which has been annulled in him by abstraction, to complete humanity in himself and to pass from a limited state to an infinite. To give human nature its full expression, is, however, the common task of both, and without that, they would not be able to be called poets at all; but the naive poet has always the advantage of sensuous reality over the sentimental, whilst he achieves that as a real fact, which the other only strives to attain.

Also read: “Kant and Aesthetic Theory” and “Kant and the Critique of Judgment”

and “Kant’s ‘Art-for-Art’s-Sake” and “Kant, the Artist, and Artistic Freedom”

 

If you have found this material useful, please give credit to

Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed. Thank you.

[email protected]


Friedrich Schiller

SCHILLER AND ROMANTICISM

Friedrich von Schiller (1759 – 1805)

Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man, were literally a series of letters written in 1793 to the Danish Prince, Friedrich Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Augustenborg. According to William F. Wertz, some of these letters burned in a fire a year later but Schiller rewrote and published them in a journal he founded. Schiller was writing at a time that seemed only a few years away from Kant’s writing, yet despite the swiftness of the distribution of Kant’s ideas, the entire world had changed since 1790. The French Revolution, once seen as the uplifting expression of freedom had collapsed into mob rule and a bloodthirsty terror. The question was how should one obtain freedom? For Schiller, this was not a practical question to be manifested through laws, as demonstrated by the American revolution, but one of how humans can be brought to freedom. Who can rise to the challenge? One must pass through the Aesthetic and become ennobled, enhanced, improved, and uplifted by the moral experience. In viewing the exciting and terrifying French Revolution, one would be tempted to attempt to determine who deserved freedom–The dangerous mob, which was venting rage born of centuries of suffering. The aristocrats who were already elevated persons, undeserving as they seemed? For Schiller, the path to freedom and self-actuality was art. Art, in Schiller’s view, was capable of being independent–in principle–from the state and the artist could, in fact, rise above the times and express the age itself.

Schiller, then, would critique Kant for espousing freedom while at the same time making it a distinctly apolitical quality. Schiller’s mission, therefore, would be to reposition Kant’s suggestions back into the real world. “Art” and what the term means and how the object is apprehended and the discourse that surrounds its objects emanates out of aesthetics, which is a branch of philosophy. The discourse about art, art criticism, art history, and art theory all are variations on philosophy. Kant’s use of aesthetics was to establish the grounds for the viewing of art—disinterestedness—the grounds for beauty—necessity—and absolute universality of aesthetic criteria. In many ways, his philosophy is divided. On one hand, there is absoluteness and rules of judging; but, on the other hand, there is the new Romantic artist who is called upon to “play” and to create new “rules” for art by breaking rules through creative invention. It will be up to Friedrich Schiller to expound upon this gap in Kantian philosophy by concentrating on the artist.

Schiller, then, would critique Kant for espousing freedom while at the same time making it a distinctly apolitical quality. Schiller’s mission, therefore, would be to reposition Kant’s suggestions back into the real world. “Art” and what the term means and how the object is apprehended and the discourse that surrounds its objects emanates out of aesthetics, which is a branch of philosophy. The discourse about art, art criticism, art history, and art theory all are variations on philosophy. Emmanuel Kant’s use of aesthetics was to establish the grounds for the viewing of art—disinterestedness—the grounds for beauty—necessity—and absolute universality of aesthetic criteria. In many ways, Kant’s philosophy is divided. On one hand, there is absoluteness and rules of judging; but, on the other hand, there is the new Romantic artist who is called upon to “play” and to create new “rules” for art by breaking rules through creative invention. It will be up to Friedrich Schiller to expound upon this gap in Kantian philosophy by concentrating on the artist and rewriting the role for art from a subjective one to an objective (real world) endeavor.

It was Schiller who aestheticized morality, linking moral actions to the ability to appreciate the beauty of such idealism. In the Letters, which were rewritten for wider publication in 1795 for his magazine Die Horen, he stated that, “it is only through Beauty that man makes his way to Freedom.” Schiller was writing his essays at a pivotal moment in time. Germany was not yet a unified or modern country, nor did it have a powerful middle class. As a nation it had yet to be industrialized and faced another century and a half of autocratic rule, and, yet Romanticism with its emphasis on the individual somehow managed to thrive in artistic circles. He wrote to his princely patron in terms that one would not readily assume would find favor with one so powerful, yet, in Letter II, Schiller laid out his ultimate goal, stating that he wanted to direct that attention of his patron to “a loftier theme than that of art” and that “the most perfect of all works of art—the establishment and structure of a true political freedom” would be the center of his discourse.

Like Winckelmann, Schiller admired Greek culture and imagined that the ancient society was fully integrated with the natural, unlike modern culture which separated humans from nature, thus “alienating” men and women from the ground of their own making. Schiller died four decades before Marx would re-define alienation but the poet foresaw what the philosopher would witness, the splitting of the modern personality, rent and torn between intellect and emotion. Schiller’s stress on the emotional aspects of alienation is best understood in response to the subjectivism of the Romantic era and as an answer to the highly artificial age of the Enlightenment, which stressed reason and rationality in the name of nature, creating an overly mannered society through rules–the source of the aching alienation. Schiller took to heart that which is suggested in Kant–that art should have a higher role in society, creating a progressive society that would be “aesthectic” in itself, achieving harmony and unity in a world where nature and humans are one. Acutely aware of the modern agony of alienation, Schiller sought to lead humans towards wholeness through art, where intellect and emotions could be resolved into a healthy and united whole. Art allows all aspects of the mind to indulge in “free play” and creates a place where reason and passion can become balanced into a perfected form. In Letter IV, he compared what he called “mechanical artist,” a common term at that time, referring to the despised academic artist, to the engaged artist who works with society itself. He wrote, “The political and educating artist follows a very different course, while making man at once his material and his end. In this case the aim or end meets in the material, and it is only because the whole serves the parts that the parts adapt themselves to the end. The political artist has to treat his material man with a very different kind of respect from that shown by the artist of fine art to his work. He must spare man’s peculiarity and personality, not to produce a deceptive effect on the senses, but objectively and out of consideration for his inner being.”

Schiller followed not just the lead of Kant but also the lead of Alexander Baumgarten in writing aesthetics for the Romantic period. Kant wrote of the abstract arabesque as his ideal form of the beautiful, but Baumgarten had envisioned art as having a more central role in human life as did Schiller. “On the Aesthetic Education of Man” concerns itself with the importance of the “aesthetic” that is the sensuous as a counterpoint to the intellectual for the development of the human being. Kant’s Critique of Judgment was the capstone of his epistemological theory, but Schiller was concerned less with theory and more with the predicament of modern life. Beauty, for Schiller, is the possibility that human beings can re-create themselves into higher beings. If Kant is the “head” or “intellect” of aesthetics, then Schiller is the “heart” of art philosophy. While Kant’s discussion of art was strictly conceptual and abstract, Schiller was a poet himself and knew of the problems and rewards of creation. But Schiller was also a playwright and a philosopher who was aware of his condition as a “hermaphrodite” or a hybrid creature: the artist who was also a philosopher. Schiller the artist appeared in his philosophical writings only in his poetic and rhetorical tone, for he rarely wrote on art itself. The Letters, for example, were political and moral documents.

One of the earliest translations of Schiller’s Letters into English was presented with an elegant Preface by the translator John Chapman who wrote in 1845, the word “aesthetics” “..as used by Schiller..expresses that state of humanity which manifests a harmonious and equal development of its entire nature, exclusive of the will, comprehending the circle of its sensuous, intellectual and moral attributes. It supposes an absence of all constraints from any particular law, or more truly such an equable and perfect action of all laws of nature which centre in humanity that none dominate–there is no tendency in any particular direction–hence an equal aptness and capacity in every direction. It does not embrace the idea of any special kind of doing, but the universal ability to do. The complement of this development is aesthetic Beauty.

In this 1845 English edition of The Philosophical and Aesthetic Letters and Essays of Schiller, the translator, J. Weiss, provided his own Introduction. “These Letters,” he said, “stand unequaled in the department of Aesthetics, and are so esteemed in Germany, which is os fruitful upon that topic. Schiller is Germany’s best Aesthetician, and these letters contain the highest moments of Schiller.” Schiller was not a follower of Kant, but he was an astute reader of the last Critique and he picked up on the Kantian term “play,” or the inventiveness of the genius. Schiller himself coined the phrase “play impulse” a theory that Weiss regards as “the chief nerve of his aesthetic system.” Schiller wrote in Letter XV, “The object of the sensuous instinct, expressed in a universal conception, is named Life in the widest acceptation: a conception that expresses all material existence and all that is immediately present in the senses. The object of the formal instinct, expressed in a universal conception, is called shape or form, as well in an exact as in an inexact acceptation; a conception that embraces all formal qualities of things and all relations of the same to the thinking powers. The object of the play instinct, represented in a general statement, may therefore bear the name of living form; a term that serves to describe all æsthetic qualities of phænomena, and what people style, in the widest sense, beauty.” And then he states emphatically and movingly, “For, to speak out once for all, man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays.”

Schiller was concerned about the fullest development of human potential through Aesthetic Education. He understood that as a civilization lost refinement (Beauty), and, in drifting away from taste, the culture began to decline. Indeed, after the horrifying experience of watching the deterioration of the Revolution into violence, Schilller gave up on the idea of reforming society through overthrowing one government in favor of another and looked instead to the re-formation of people, society, into evolving humans who would be informed (reformed) through aesthetics, which would, eventually, enoble the citizens. People would change and evolve through an elevation of morals and ethics, which in and of themselves were a form of beauty of becoming something greater. The question of improving society is a practical one, combining the rational side and the sensuous side, overcoming the duality or the dialectic through a third force, the play-impulse or the Spieltriech. Anticipating and inspiring Hegel, Schiller suggests a play, as it were, of opposites, a dialectic, thesis, antithesis, to be reconciled by a third force or synthesis. He suggested that the Stofftrieb or the material drive and the Formtrieb or the form drive would be mediated by the Spieltrieb. As Weiss explained, “The aesthetic Art-impulse will never unfold itself, if the Play-impulse has not first become active.”

While Kant set up charts and establishes oppositions, Schiller established evolution through activities of the dialectical. In Letter XX, he wrote, “Thus, to pass from sensation to thought, the soul traverses a medium position, in which sensibility and reason are at the same time active, and thus they mutually destroy their determinant power, and by their antagonism produce a negation. This medium situation in which the soul is neither physically nor morally constrained, and yet is in both ways active, merits essentially the name of a free situation; and if we call the state of sensuous determination physical, and the state of rational determination logical or moral, that state of real and active determination should be called the æsthetic.” In his A Companion to the Works of Friedrich Schiller, Steven D. Martinson remarked, “For Schiller, the salvation of the human species lies neither in religion nor in science but, in art. Art alone is capable of effecting a balance between all of one’s individual faculties. Clearly, Schiller’s work marks a profound shift in German culture. He is the first to replace religion with art explicitly in theory…One of Schiller’s foremost contributions is the knowledge that practical reason operates in concert with aesthetics. The actualization of moral knowledge in the present that is gained in the process of aesthetic education means that the ideal of humane humanity serves as a regulative idea for the improvement of individuals and societies over time. Schiller’s ideas are not mere abstractions that await their realization in a distant and unforeseeable future. Rather one strives to enact the moral knowledge that one has acquired affectively in and through aesthetic education.”

Later Georg Lukács would complain that Schiller avoided political involvement by denying the State any role in this “aesthetic” education. But presumably humans would never evolve on their own if this education was controlled by the state. It is possible, therefore to free the arts from the state for the artist to achieve an aesthetic education, while at the same time the artist can put art to practical and political purposes. From a Kantian perspective, Schiller is internally contradictory but from a Schillerian perspective, the freedom of art from the state and its use in culture–practical use–is a resolution of the dialectic through the play-impulse. Thus for Schiller aesthetics and politics become seamlessly entwined into a synthesis.

If you have found this material useful, please give credit to

Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed. Thank you.

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Podcast Episode 16: Romanticism in England, Part One

THE WRITING OF ENGLISH ROMANTICISM

Part One

Like Neo-Classicism, Romanticism was an international movement, but, unlike the earlier movement, Romanticism differed from country to country. In England, Romanticism established an aesthetic that was reflective of national conditions. The British Romantic artists were closely aligned to the Romantic poets and a new group of philosophers and art writers emerged to explain this new national form of English Romanticism. The English landscape was shaped by economic forces far earlier than the environments of other nations. Due to the Industrial Revolution, England was on the road to modernity by the middle of the eighteenth century. But contemporaneous with the rise of factories was the Enclosure Movement, a “closing of the commons,” which displaced landless peasants into industrial jobs. English Romanticism is woven within the new English feeling for “nature” in the face of coming industrialization and modern agriculture.

Also listen to “Romanticism in England, Part One” and “English Romanticism and Turner” and “Romanticism and Constable”

 

If you have found this material useful, please give credit to
Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed.

Thank you.
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Kant, the Artist, and Artistic Freedom

EMMANUEL KANT (1724-1804)

Kant, the Artist, and Artistic Freedom

The modern artist of the nineteenth century faced an aesthetic landscape that was quite different compared to that of the previous century. The definition of “art” in the eighteenth century was that, which was sanctioned by the Church, the State or the aristocracy. The definition of the “artist” in the eighteenth century was a trained technician who produced commissioned objects for these powers. The definition of “subject matter” or “content” in a work of art was that which had been approved of by the client or patron. Within these definitions of “art” and “artist” the cultural producer had a certain freedom of interpretation, but, ultimately, most artists were answerable to those who controlled the sites for art. The power behind the system by which art could be exhibited in France was closely linked to the State itself and the display of art and the kinds of content and the modes of styles allowed to be seen were closely monitored by rigorous juries. The tight control of art is hardly a surprised during the first half of the nineteenth century in France, which was roiled by changing rulers. By the nineteenth century, the artist had lost a great deal of the traditional support system and faced a changing definition of the “artist” as a free and independent “genius.” The idea of a genius is a product of the Enlightenment concept of the individual as a free and independent human being who is allowed freedom of speech and expression as “natural rights.” The role of the artist within Kant’s concept of aesthetics is that of a maker who must create new forms. The artist is now free of any external “commands” from patrons or the audience. His/her only role is that of being a “genius,” who gives free range to the imagination. The result of Kantian philosophy is the elevation of the artist to “creator” and the exaltation of artistic originality. There is a new value to artistic experience as such and a new affirmation of emotional aspects of art. The notion of the expressive function of art is not unrelated to the new definition of “sensibility,” as an ability to feel and to express oneself. In addition, there was a new importance attached to the invention of a fiction about the new Romantic artist, who was now the hero, the god, and the genius. The genius is the one with exceptional intellectual and spiritual endowments, the one who breaks the rules and who creates breakthroughs to new possibilities for subsequent artists.

By the nineteenth century, a time fraught with political peril for the unwary, the artist had lost a great deal of the traditional support system from traditional patrons and was expected to work for a volatile combination of the public on one hand and the government on the other hand. The artist was also torn between the needs of the State to use art to educate the people and to teach them how to behave in a revolutionary era and the changing definition of the “artist” as a free and independent “genius.” The idea of a “genius” is a product of the Enlightenment in that it is a concept of the individual as a free and independent human being, who is allowed freedom of speech and expression as “natural rights” to express oneself creatively. The role of the artist within Kant’s concept of aesthetics, seen in the Critique of Judgment (1790) is that of a maker who must create new forms. The artist is apparently or theoretically now free of any external “commands” from patrons or the audience. His/her only role is that of being a “genius,” a rare individual who gives free range to the imagination. The result of Kantian philosophy is the elevation of the artist to “creator” and the exaltation of artistic originality, at least in the collective minds of the producers themselves. Within the artistic community, there is a new value to artistic experience as such and a new affirmation of emotional aspects of art in the sense that the artist should express his feelings. The notion of the expressive function of art is not unrelated to the new definition of “sensibility,” as an ability to feel and to express oneself. Note that women were usually restricted to self-expression in the literary arts, since they were more or less successfully handicapped in the visual arts. In addition, there was a new importance attached to the invention of a fiction about the new Romantic artist, who was now the hero, the god, and the genius, usually gendered as male. The genius is the one with exceptional intellectual and spiritual endowments, the one who breaks the rules and who creates breakthroughs to new possibilities for subsequent artists. Such freedoms were available only to men during the century and women who “expressed themselves” were considered immoral and immodest and condemned to a social death. Only independent and wealthy privileged women such as George Sand were able to even approach “freedom.”

Genius, according to Emmanuel Kant, is that “natural endowment of mental aptitude which gives rule to art.” Fine art is possible only as a “product of genius,” which produces original art. Originality or the ability to be original sets the genius apart from the need to imitate either other works of art or to recreate the real world itself. The artist is allowed to work from Kant’s indispensable ingredient for “genius,” the imagination. The artist or genius also has no need to respond to communal needs or to the demands of the State. Thus art and beauty ceased to be commonly agreed upon or traditional, but instead became ideas, molded by the exceptional individual, who could freely make or break old notions of appropriateness. The exceptionalism of the courage to “give rule to art” alienates the artist from the rest of society, who, according to later theories of the avant-garde, could no longer understand his products. The modern artist is now no longer an integrated member of society and it is the artist himself (rarely herself) who is the real subject of every work of art. There is a price to pay for such freedom and few arttist in real life were willing to be alienated or unrecognized and were not interested in going hungry for an abstract principle.

From the heroic romantic perspective, suddenly, the artist is no longer the artisan working at the beck and call of an autocratic patron, suddenly the artist is no longer the illustrator of the message of the patron, suddenly the artist is no longer and interior decorator. The artist has been recreated as a “genius,” who is required to play. “Play” becomes a major concept within Kantian aesthetics. Play, in art, performs the same role as technology in the Industrial Revolution in that playing produces constant “progress” or change in art. Like technology, art responds to itself and evolves according to its own rules. Progress was part of an Enlightenment creed and became allied to the belief system that history had a goal–teleology. By the mid-twentieth century, art critics and art historians have incorporated the implied notion of teleology—art progresses and evolves towards a goal. Kant’s ideas–implied in his writings–were reinterpreted for another century, a century that developed the concept of evolution and continued to believe in the optimism of the Enlightenment. A true child of Romanticism, the Kantian artist is a rule-breaker, not the rational rule follower of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment ended with the French Revolution, a product of political reason but the end of the faith in rationalism. The sight of mob rule, the experience of government by rabble-rousers, and the blood-soaked Terror was the end of Enlightenment optimism and faith in human nature. But the ideals of the Enlightenment—freedom and individuality—lived on long after the culture’s disillusionment over the failure of reason. If humans could not be rational, as was hoped, then they must be constrained by laws. France became an empire under an Emperor, trading equality, and fraternity for order. The artist becomes the one truly liberated member of nineteenth-century society, detached and free, like a homeless person—ultimately dangerous in an increasingly regulated society.

Aesthetics was split between rule and play. The Critique of Judgment (1790) set in motion an idea of the autonomy of a work of art, an idea that spread beyond philosophy and permeated the artistic community. For artists, Kantian concepts gave them a new reason to make art; for critics, Kantian concepts gave a new way to talk about art. One half of the Critique, that which concerns itself with rules, becomes linked to the Academy, especially in France and England. Following the rules meant following the dictates of ancient art and copying the antique masters. The other half of aesthetics—play—belonged to the independent artist and survived into the Romantic Era and, indeed, characterized the period. Play, like technology, is coupled with progress and evolution, because play leads to innovation and change which results in “progress” for art. The new concept of play and invention was linked to the free play of the artistic imagination, putting the artist in a position of dominance over the demands of the academy. If art was to “progress,” rules would have to be broken by the artist. But for the artist to break the rules, s/he must have artistic freedom. Artistic freedom was not a new idea, for artists had always struggled against the demands of troublesome clients (Michelangelo’s assertion of autonomy over Pope Julius II comes to mind). However, Kantian aesthetic philosophy constructed a set of concepts that articulated the ideas that would form Romantic thinking: genius and artistic freedom. The idea of artistic change, led to multiple art movements and “isms” throughout the nineteenth century and into the next, the Twentieth, until the challenge of Postmodernism.

Much of what is thought of loosely as “Kantian aesthetics” was developed later by those who learned from Kant, argued with him or those who furthered and extended his text and explored his subtexts. One of the most important of these post-Kant philosophers was Friedrich Schiller who famously remarked, “Art is the daughter of freedom.” Schiller’s

Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man, were literally a series of letters written in 1793 to the Danish Prince, Friedrich Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Augustenborg. According to William F. Wertz, some of these letters burned in a fire a year later but Schiller rewrote and published them in a journal he founded. Schiller was writing at a time that seemed only a few years away from Kant’s writing, yet despite the swiftness of the distribution of Kant’s ideas, the entire world had changed since 1790. The French Revolution, once seen as the uplifting expression of freedom had collapsed into mob rule and a bloodthirsty terror. Schiller, then would critique Kant for espousing freedom while at the same time making it a distinctly apolitical quality. Schiller’s mission, therefore, would be to reposition Kant’s suggestions back into the real world.

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Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed. Thank you.

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Kant and Art for Art’s Sake

CONSTRUCTING AN IDEA

Art for Art’s Sake

What was the purpose of art in the modern period? In the minds of late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century philosophers, the role of art could be nothing less that to create beauty. The beautiful, for Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804), is “that which without any concept is cognized as the object of necessary satisfaction.” In other words, the appropriate stance of the spectator, perceiving “beauty” is one of indifference. This indifference does not imply, as it would in the contemporary sense today, that one is uninvolved; it simply means acknowledging that the beauty possessed by the object is necessary and that the agreement as to the beauty would be universal. Paradoxically, taste is always ordered upon the indifferent, but this indifference is also the key to the recognition of the universality of beauty. The status of aesthetic judgment is not empirical but logical, based upon the powers of human reason and rationality, which excludes internal and external purposiveness or “interest.” Kant introduces purposiveness without a purpose, allowing the mind of the one who contemplates art freely thanks to an unrestricted play of the mental faculties. But what, then was the role of the artist, who was supposed to provide this play of the mental faculties?

Obviously an object dignified as “beautiful” was rare and exalted, worthy of universal agreement as to its necessary quality. As Kant wrote in the Critique of Judgment, “For judging of beautiful objects as such, taste is requisite; but for beautiful art, i.e. for the production of such objects genius is requisite.” In a very famous statement, he asserted that “Genius is the talent (or natural gift) which gives the rule to art. Since talent, as the innate productive faculty of the artist, belongs itself to nature, we may express the matter thus: Genius is the innate mental disposition (ingenium) through which nature gives rule to art.” Kant completely understood the existence of academic art or “mechanical art,” as he termed it, which was ” a mere art of industry” and he separated the merely trained and skilled artist from the “genius.” “Genius,” he said, “can only furnish rich material for products of beautiful art; its execution and its form require talent cultivated in the schools, in order to make use of this material as will stand examination by the judgment.” Kant also insisted that the “mental powers” that constituted genius were “imagination and understanding,” asserting that “no science can teach and no industry can learn..” In other words, while the imagination must “submit” to understanding, working hard and being industrious is insufficient to produce a work of genius. Genius, Kant seemed to imply, is natural, in that it is a gift from nature fused with training. The idea of “genius” was novel one, which he set on in the section “Analytic of the Sublime,” easily the most significant section of the book.

Kant’s rather difficult book on aesthetics entered into French thought through a variety of paths, all of which greatly simplified his ideas. The phrase “art for art’s sake” is thought to have been coined by Benjamin Constant, a Swiss philosopher, a prodigy who was educated in Germany, where he learned German, before he completed his education in Scotland. Multilingual and a distinguished philosopher in his own right, Constant had the intellectual weight and temerity to cross literary swords with Kant himself on the question of lying and truth. Their discussion, taking place with the French Revolution as a backdrop, had nothing to do with art and everything to do with politics, moral positions and a just society. Oddly, this exchange between the two philosophers, one old and defensive, one young and up and coming seems to have rested upon words not written. As Slavoj Žižek wrote in Cogito and the Unconscious: Sic 2, that the German translation of Des réactions politiques (1797), the book that began the debate, was translated by Franz Cramer who added additional information: “In the German translation, the passage where Constant speaks of a ‘German philosopher’ is accompanied by a footnote in which the publisher states that Constant told him that the ‘German philosopher’ he had in mind was Kant. What is especially interesting about this case is that philosopher states that, in the work of Kant, we do not find the example to which Constant refers. However, Kant immediately replied to Constant with “On a Supposed Right to Lie Because of Philosophical Concerns.” After quoting Constant.., Kant adds a footnote saying he remembers stating somewhere what Constant suggests, but that he does not remember where.”

Constant, compared to Kant, led an active and adventurous life, observing the French Revolution at close hand and enjoying the company of numerous women, most famously Madame Germaine de Staël with whom he had an unacknowledged daughter. He knew Charles-Maurice de Tallyrand (the rumored father of Delacroix), was acquainted with William Godwin, the companion of Mary Woolstonecroft, and, according to his biographer Dennis Wood, he was a guest for dinner “at the home of the widow of the philosophe Condorcet..” and “General Laclos, that is Pierre-Ambroise-François Choderlos Laclos, the author of Les Liaisons dangereuses.” The formidable intellectual couple, on and off again in their relationships, moved in the highest literary and philosophical circles in France, but that did not protect them from the wrath of Napoléon for their dual distrust of tyranny. The new ruler of France promptly expelled Madame de Staël and Constant prudently followed her to exile in Germany. With their affair long since cooled, Constant seems to have planned to leave her once she found safety but the couple arrived in Weimar where the philosopher found himself at home once again. As Wood recounted, the new exile found himself in “an atmosphere of intellectual freedom that had disappeared in France.” “Constant was in his second homeland once again, surrounded by erudition and unflagging intellectual curiosity, his morale boosted by the familiar German atmosphere of unprejudiced tolerance and enlightened attitudes.” Constant met with the major thinkers of the early nineteenth century, Göethe, Schiller, Wieland, and it is during these discussions in Weimar that the phrase “art for art’s sake” emerged, an event that Wood does not discuss but is discussed at great length by Frederick Burwick in Mimesis and Its Romantic Reflections. An Englishman, Henry Crabb Robinson, was studying in Germany and had met with the great Romantic thinkers, Göethe, Schiller, Herder, and studied under Schelling. In 1804 he met Constant and de Staël in Weimar and the two men had a conversation–recorded by both in their journals–on aesthetics. Constant had a conversation with Schiller where he contrasted French poetry to German poetry and he and Robinson seem to have conversed about the idea of art for art’s sake. It seems that Robinson had heard what Constant termed “very clever notions” or “idées très énergiques” from Schelling who had taken Kant’s Ding an sich and posited Kunst an sich, which Robinson, speaking French, translated as l’art pour l’art or perhaps it was Constant who did the translation–certain details are lost. In 1921 Rose Frances Egan quoted the precise passage from Constant’s notes: “J’ai la visite de Schiller…J’ai une conversation avec Robinson, élève de Schelling. Son travail sur l’Esthétique de Kant a des idées très energiques. L’art pour l’art, sans but, car tout but dénature l’art. Mais l’art atteint un but qu’il n’a pas.” Egan also noted that in the journals of Henry Crabb Robinson, dated even earlier in 1801, he wrote of a visit with Winckelmann, who analyzed the excellence of English writers and yet noted that they were “incapable of attaining the highest degree of excellence. A pure poet has no other end than to produce a work of art, a pure philosopher, no other end than to raise a system of elaborate truth.”

The tale of the dissemination of the now famous phrase and the seminal concept remains confused. Burwick determined that the concept but not the phrase found its way from Constant to de Staël in her famous book of 1810, De l’Allemagne, and Gene H. Bell-Villada, in Art for Art’s Sake & Literary Life: How Politics and Markets Helped Shape the Ideology & Culture of Aestheticism, 1790-1990, suggested that her knowledge of Kantian aesthetics was secondhand, gleaned from conversations. However, her book was widely read in France and it was from her writings that the ideas of Kant, Schiller, and the Schlegels arrived in France. Bell-Villada wrote that the French readership was “largely bored with the ‘rules’ of neo-classicism and was in a mood to seek out alternate literary ways.” It seems that few of Kant’s admirers in France had actually read Critique of Judgment and the next intellectual to notice the usefulness of his ideas that freed artists from “tyrannical restrictions,” as de Staël expressed it, was Victor Cousin. Cousin was the right man in France at the right time. As was pointed out, the artists were already bored with the frozen style of Neoclassicism and, as Gene H. Bell-Villada reported, “In post-Napoléonic France the philosophical field was in a sorry state..” and Cousin stepped “into this vacuum.” At the Sorbonne “Professor Cousin..gave a series of lectures based on his minimal reading of Kant–mainly in poor and incomplete Latin translations, deciphered with much clever guesswork on his part.” Even more remarkable, for today’s rigorous scholars, Cousin wrote a book, composed of simplified ideas and catch phrases gleaned from a hodge-podge of German philosophy. Cours de philsophie professée à la faculté des lettres pendant l’année 1818 sure les fondements des idées absolues du vrai, du beau et du bien, in which he said, “Il faut de la religion pour la religion de la morale pour la morale, comme de l’art pour l’art.”

In her 1921 book tracing the origin and increasing popularity of the phrase, Rose Frances Egan, pointed to Victor Hugo who was apparently familiar with the words to use them in a casual fashion,as though the idea of art having no purpose other than its own were an accepted thought: “Plutôt cent fois l’art pour l’art! Cette parole, détournée, involontairement sans doute, de son vrai sens pour les besoins de la polemique, a pris plus tard, à la grande surprise de celui dont elle avait été l’interjection, les proportions d’une formule.” These sentences appeared in Hugo’s 1864 Shakespeare, indicating the idea was accepted and widely known. The battle cry against classicism was “art for art’s sake” and, ironically, given that Kant based his aesthetic ideas of beauty upon classicism, the reinterpretations of his work undermined the very notion of universal beauty. As would be seen in the art of Gustave Courbet, artistic freedom opened the door to an expression of the ugly and allowed the ordinary into the precincts of art. The new mood of romantic individualism became a movement among artists and writers in both France and Germany–Romanticism. Théophile Gautier wrote that “Art for art’s sake means for its adepts the pursuit of pure beauty — without any other preoccupation.”

In her book, The Genesis of the Theory of “Art for Art’s Sake” in Germany and in England, Egan who is rarely mentioned by later historians, thought that perhaps, since Robinson was writing in 1845, he was writing from memory, that one should look to Thackery for the earliest use of the phrase in English. In 1839, writing to his mother, the author remarked, “Please God we shall begin again ere long, to love art for art’s sake.” Based on these widespread accounts covering three languages, the idea that art had its own destiny was both attractive and probably necessary. Within the Romantic movement, artists were believed to have the right to exist for the sole purpose of making art and art supposedly existed for the sole purpose of being art. Art for art’s sake is such a powerful (and necessary) concept, so pervasive and entrenched that it is one of the most important motivating forces behind art to this day. the artist and the work of art now had a purpose again—not a social purpose but a purpose that was strictly an art purpose. Confronting the staid and serious Neoclassic was its rival “ism,” Romanticism, which championed the artist as a genius and art as an expression of that genius—concepts that were pure Kant.

Although “Art for art’s sake” is a particular concept developed within the branch of philosophy called Aesthetics, these terms: “art for art’s sake,” “aestheticism” and “aesthetics” are not interchangeable. Also not to be confused with Kantian aesthetic theory is Aestheticism, which was an artistic movement in late nineteenth-century England. English Aestheticism was an attitude on the part of art makers and art appreciators, based upon the desire to make every object “artful” and beautiful, regardless of its utilitarian or use value. While late nineteenth century Aestheticism was a desire to combine art and life and life and beauty, “Art for art’s sake” was an aspect of aesthetics, a Kantian derived concept, completely divorced from any specific work of art or from any particular art movement. The independence of aesthetics from art is best illustrated when we picture Kant, an elderly and retiring philosopher professor who denied himself all sensual pleasures in his pursuit of the intellect. Living in a backwater university town, he never went to museums and did not own any art, and yet he was able to reason his way to the solution of grounding the response to art, which is personal and therefore subjective (based within the viewing subject), in an intellectual framework that is impersonal and objective and, above all, disinterested.

The intellectual framework devised by Kant provided aesthetics as the philosophical grounds for the definition of art in an age when art needed its freedom. Kant set art free from content, subject matter, the client’s wishes, the community’s desires and the needs of religion. The idea of art being given wholly over to aesthetic pleasure and delight was the ultimate freedom of art to exist on its own merits and to be the center of its own world. Art lived and died by its own art rules and justified its own existence in terms of its separate universe. Art was autonomous and free. Kant’s ahistorical or transcendental ideas were conveyed by German expatriates to post-Revolution French intellectuals and artists, who were increasingly alienated from society and adrift without the traditional patrons of Church and State. Suddenly socially “useless” without their historical missions, certain artists found Kant’s concepts very appealing and timely.

The Critique of Judgment (1790) contained the right ideas at the right time: concepts, which were a fortuitous response to an artistic crisis at the beginning of the nineteenth century. What does an artist do? How does an artist make art and why? Why is it that certain objects are universally called “art?” What are the common characteristics of these objects? What is their “art-ness?” Kant’s answers became, by the 20th century, to be commonly called “formalism.” Attention to Form in Kantian philosophy, or art for art’s sake, separates art from its traditional role as purveyor of subject matter on the command of a patron. But there is a difference between what Kant wrote and what his followers made of his ideas. For Kant, formalism is a mode of apprehending and emphasizes direct experience or intuitional awareness, without consideration of practical implications, of a work of art. The cultivation of aesthetic experience as a deliberate value was the work of Kant, who developed a critical criterion for the aptness of a work of art for appreciation, based upon its formal properties, rather than upon practical significance or importance of subject matter. Almost two hundred years later, his aesthetic system was rewritten as formal exploration the intrinsic properties of art itself was the only appropriate mode of art making, but as will be discussed in other posts, this reinterpretation was a misreading of the original concepts in the Critique of Judgment.

Also read: “Kant and Aesthetic Theory” and “Kant and the Critique of Judgment”

and “Kant’s ‘Art-for-Art’s-Sake” and “Kant, the Artist, and Artistic Freedom”

If you have found this material useful, please give credit to

Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed. Thank you.

[email protected]

Podcast Episode 15: French Romanticism: Delacroix, Part Two

DELACROIX THE CONSERVATIVE

Part Two

The art of Eugène Delacroix was uniquely suited to his time. In an era of imperialism and colonialism through conquest, his exciting art captured the violence of a turbulent age. Like all artists of the Romantic era, Delacroix was fascinated by the mystery of the Middle East. Although much of the art of his later career was government sponsored, Delacroix also acted as a reporter and visited the French possession of Algeria and captured, first hand, the allure of the Other. After an early career being cast (0r mis-cast) as a Romantic rebel, Delacroix spent the rest of his life doing official commissions—such as murals for the French government.

Also listen to: “The French Romantics: Gros and Girodet, Part One” and “The French Romantics: Gros and Girodet, Part Two” and “French Romanticism, Ingres, Part One,” and “French Romanticism, Ingres, Part Two” and “French Romanticism, Delacroix, Part One”

Also read: “French Romanticism: The Historical Context” and “The French Academy: Painting” and “French Romanticism: Subject Matter and the Artist” and “French Romanticism and the Avant-Garde”

If you have found this material useful, please give credit to
Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed.

Thank you.
[email protected]

Important Announcement

The Podcasts from this Website

by Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette

are now available through iTunes and can be listened to on your iPad or iPhone

Remember to download the iBooks app to your iPad or iPhone

Art History Unstuffed: The Podcasts

Also the complete

Art History Timeline Videos

by Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette

are now available and can be viewed on You Tube

This twenty-seven episode series of five minute videos span Western art history, from the Caves to Romanticism. The videos can be used by students and teachers as introductory, supplementary or review material. Each video is written,narrated and produced by the author of this website, and is reinforced by written text and is richly illustrated by many images. The entire Timeline can be accessed through

this link: Art History Timeline

Kant and the Critique of Judgment

KANT’S SYSTEM of JUDGMENT

Beauty, Taste, and Indifference

In the eighteenth century, art and beauty were considered synonymous. During Kant’s time, the criteria for the “beautiful” was a simple—and specific one—based upon and derived from the supposed Greek ideal of nature perfected. The spell of classicism had long been a part of the Western criteria for art, but the discovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the middle of the century provided the artists and designer with a historically accurate glimpse of the way Romans lived in antique times. The result of this encounter with the past was, at first, expressed in terms of fashion and design from the architectural masterpieces Robert Adam in England to the emergence of the “empire” high waistlines in women’s clothes. But the idea of the classical went beyond passing trends in furniture design and expressed the concept of that which is timeless, transcendent of historical phases because of its perfection that defied change. Among the early articulators of the historical implications of artistic apotheosis was Johann Winckelmann who inspired art theorists of the eighteenth century to believe in the superiority of classical art. It was Winckelmann who developed an early art historical methodology of studying the past and posited the theory that the ancient Greek artists had started from nature and perfected its imperfections, creating, through the medium of art, a sublime, and perfect beauty. The role of art and the artists was to follow the lessons of Greek art, attempt to emulate it, and achieve the Greek standards of “perfection”. According to the first art historian, Johann Winckelmann, “To take the ancients for models is the only way to become great.”

To fully appreciate the impact of Winckelmann’s writings on antiquity in Germany, it is important to note the timing of his writing. His first significant book, the one that allowed him to make his mark, Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and the Art of Sculpture, was published in 1755, during his formative years working in Dresden he was able to visit the paintings, many of which were Italian, of the Dresden Gemäldegallerie. Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Works was both so widely read and so controversial, that Winckelmann wrote no less that three follow up books. It was also in 1755 that Winckelmann went to Rome as the librarian of the Cardinal Alessandro Albani, a move from his native Saxony that allowed him to visit the archaeological excavations around Naples. On four visits, he was able to view and critique the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii and Stabae, through 1764. in his introduction to Johann Joachim Winckelmann on Art, Architecture, and Archaeology, David Carter stated that Winckelmann visited the “best preserved Greek temples in Italy” at Paestum. He wrote four books on ancient architecture based upon these Italian observations. Although Winckelmann’s knowledge of antique art was based upon a combination of belated works of classicism from the seventeenth century, Roman copies of Greek originals and preserved examples of Greek classicism, his 1764 book History of the Art of Antiquity, was enormously influential not just to the discipline of art history and archaeology but also to the gradual formation of modern Germany as a united nation with an indentity tied to Greece. When he stated, “The only way we can achieve greatness and if possible to become inimitable is the imitation of the ancients and what some say of Homer that whoever has learned to understand him learns to admire him. The same can be said of the art of antiquity,” he was writing in German to a German audience, possibly referencing more than art. In his recent 2012 book, Winckelmann’s “Philosophy of Art”: A Prelude to German Classicism, John Harry North discussed the cultural changes in Germany during the eighteenth century:

Politically and socially speaking, there was a slow shift from a strictly hierarchical to a more egalitarian configuration of authority, accompanied by a marked increase and widening of the spread of literacy and of economic power to the professional and free-thinking citizens..The positive reception of Winckelmann’s classicism was partly due to the emphasis placed by him on pagan models of ‘nobility’ and ‘freedom’ that he found in pre-Christian society and which he thought found expression in Hellenistic art.

In writing, “His language is almost entirely German, which is a radical statement in itself, since access to the courts and the German nobility would have been in French and to the learned community mainly in Latin. The language he used and further developed was the basic Saxon version of the German language as used by Luther in his translation of the Bible, a language that was familiar to Winckelmann from his Protestant religious upbringing and from the dialect used in the region of his childhood,” North seems to be suggesting that the art historian was participating in the building of a national identity for the Germany to come. In fact, earlier on the author wrote of the role of Winckelmann in inspiring an ideal of freedom and self-actualization in Germany based upon his misinterpretation of Athenian Greek culture:

Interest in Winckelmann and his œuvre began with his first publication in 1756: ‘Thoughts about the Imitation of Greek works in Painting and Sculpture’.1 This work was of importance among the literary elite of Germany and it continued to be read beyond his death in 1768. Winckelmann was one of the originators of the illusion that there had been in late antiquity democratic government in Greece; a government that fostered the freedom of the individual citizen and of the artist. The idea of such a cultural homeland, i.e. Griechentum, spread through the succeeding generations of German philosophers and historians, resulting in a second illusion: the notion that classical Greece was somehow ancestral to German culture, to Deutschtum. This theory of an imagined German Hellenism persisted for centuries and came to a close only with the end of the Third Reich.

In building a nascent theory of analyzing art, Winckelmann also established the theory that the art of a particular culture rises, peaks and then declines. Today, we understand Winckelmann’s hierarchy for artist phases to be imposed upon what were stylistic evolutions and changes connected to shifts in culture. Contemporary art history examines art, not from a superimposed theory of “rise and fall,” but from an appreciation for each phase as an entity in itself. But two hundred years ago, the fields of art history, art theory, art criticism and aesthetics were in their infancy, and, for these early writers, the starting point of emulation was Greek art. Winkelmann’s books were coded messages, writing to an educated audience in his German homeland, a place that was experiencing the Enlightenment and longing for freedom, while bent under the yokes of princelings. The art historian’s message to be like the Greeks would have had a wider meaning in Germany than in France, where the classical antique would have been more of a recipe for art making than an account of an early democracy where art flourished. The idea of copying the Greeks, the ancients, is also stated by Quatremère de Quincy in “An Essay on the Nature and Means of Imitation in the Fine Arts” (1823). De Quincy wrote that the final perfection of art is to reproduce, not things as seen with all their faults and imperfections, but as objects refashioned into an ideally beautiful nature. In this fashion, nature became art, never experienced in the actual but “corrected” by the Greeks into “superior beauty” which is the goal of all art. The equation of the art of the ancient Greeks with idealized beauty would establish a standard, or a canon, that would be challenged by the later generation. The quarrel between the old generation and the new will be termed the “Quarrel Between the Ancients and the Moderns.” The new generation, the Romantics, would not only reject the ancient as subject matter but would also refute the notion of idealized ‘beauty”.

Whatever the political subtexts of Greek art may have been, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the idea of “beauty” as being an attempt to renew the artistic quest for perfection of the natural, based upon Greek models was firmly entrenched and frozen into academic dictum and practice. However, in practice, as could be seen in any academy, a slavish reproduction of classicism quickly turned sterile. Academic practice had confused great art with great ideas and great subjects with large works of art whose merit began to rest more and more upon the excellence of technique and morals rather than upon inherent greatness. Writing decades after Winckelmann, in the Critique of Judgment in 1790, Kant, a Prussian subject, thought in universal, rather than in Germanic terms. In his book The Idea Of Nationalism: A Study In Its Origins And Background, Hans Kohn wrote that “Kant has sometimes been regarded as a Prussian in a deeper sense than that of a mere subject. Prussian emphasis upon duty and discipline and Kant’s primacy of duty seemed to reveal a certain affinity between their ethical attitudes. In reality, the similarity is purely superficial and is confined to one point; in their origin and enhance the two attitudes, were not only different but opposed. Prussianism centered in the state, for which Kant’s philosophy showed hardly any understanding or love. Prussia was founded upon authority and subjection; Kant’s philosophy, upon equality and autonomy..”

In his appreciation of human freedom, Kant was a typical Enlightenment philosopher. Like Gotthold Ephriam Lessing, a close associate of Winckelmann, who as Kohn noted, “represented a synthesis of the spirit of Enlightenment and of the new humanism.” The author continued, “Kant’s ethics never knew any other horizon than the universal one of mankind..Kant visualized mankind, a universal society of free individuals, as the goal of all human development.Kant thought exclusively in the concepts of a rational order for mankind. The principles of the French Revolution were enthusiastically welcomed by him.” It is in relation to the Enlightenment principles of universality and transcendence that Kant’s final volume can be read. Kant established the grounds for judgment about art on the basis of “disinterest,” writing, “Everyone must admit that a judgment about beauty, in which the least interest mingles, is very partial and is not a pure judgment of taste. We must not be in the least prejudiced in favor of the existence of the things, but be quite indifferent in this respect, in order to play the judge in things of taste.” Kant divided judgments into the categories of “the pleasant, the beautiful, and the good” which “designate then three different relations of representations to the feelings of pleasure and pain, in reference to which we distinguish from one another objects of methods of representing them.” He concluded that “We may say that, of all these three kinds of satisfaction, that of taste in the beautiful alone a disinterested and free satisfaction; for no interest, either of had sense or reason, hence forces our assent..” Therefore, Kant stated, Taste is the faculty of judging an object or a method of representing it by an entirely disinterested satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The object of such satisfaction is called beautiful.”

Conceptually, Kant had to separate worthy subject matter from a worthy work of art, because subject matter or content cannot be timeless. Subject matter that is meaningful in one era may be meaningless in another. The worth of any work of art must be transcendent and universal, allowing the viewer of any time and place to appreciate the work of art in its own inherent terms which, for Kant, were excellence of drawing (line) and design (composition), without consideration of color which was subjective and emotional and content which was extrinsic to form. The role of color was solely to enhance form. The argument over line or color was somewhat related the Quarrel Between the Ancients and the Moderns, as the Ancients, Line and disciplined behavior were linked to strong ruling régimes and color and feelings were related to the new and dangerous ideas of freedom and democracy. From Kant’s perspective, however, color is secondary to preserve the universality of line, which is unchangeable and, supposedly, beyond interpretation.

Kant sought a universal standard for judgment in the realm of art, a set of values that would be independent of personal likes and dislikes, of subject matter which was bound up in its own time, of morality or fashion or passion. Upon what can universal judgments that are timeless and absolute be based? Kant wove certain prevailing ideas into a coherent system, which differentiates the Judgment of aesthetic pleasure from other pleasures. Aesthetic judgments are both subjective, that is, not provable in any scientific way, and also universal, that is, agreed upon by everyone. A thing can be “proved” to be beautiful because it belongs to a certain class of things or characteristics. A phenomenological judgment is the result of a direct aesthetic experience. The subjective aesthetic judgment is the feeling or the response of the subject when the object is apprehended, contemplated, and then judged.

Even though subjective (not empirical), the aesthetic judgment is opposed to a relativistic doctrine in which beauty is dependent upon individual likes and dislikes. Kant was quite opposed to such relativistic judgments, for they are based upon personal responses, which are tied to a particular place and time as well as to the individual. Kant also rejected the concept of “interest” as the basis for determining beauty and art. Interest is desire, a concern for the existence of a thing; it is a utility judgment: this thing is “good” for something, especially sensory pleasure. Kant excluded sensory pleasure: “That taste is still barbaric which needs an added element of charm and emotion in order that there may be satisfaction and still more so if it adopts these as the measure of its approval.” He denied aesthetic pleasure or value to beautiful tones in music and to the beauty of color in art.

Kant advocated disinterest and indifference to content or subject matter and appreciated only design and composition. Purity in tone or color make form more definite and clear and easily intuitable. Form, clearly and purely delineated, sustains attention to the object itself. Thus, Kant puts forward the concept of “free beauty,” or pure aesthetic beauty, which has its own internal or inherent or intrinsic purposiveness: “The beautiful is that which pleases apart from a concept.” For the judgment of the beautiful to be universally valid, it must be detached from individual and personal feelings. For this aesthetic judgment to claim to be correct, it must not be singular or unique to a particular object. “Art” must rest upon the principle of disinterestedness. This judgment, from a universal standpoint, assumes the existence of common sense, which is universally communicable.

If you have found this material useful, please give credit to

Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed. Thank you.

[email protected]


Kant and Aesthetic Theory

KANT AND AESTHETICS

While Kant was writing the Critique of Judgment, 1790, the answer of the role of the artist in society was increasingly unclear, and the social and cultural situation was increasingly unstable. The artist was looking at an abyss, gazing into the unknown of a new era, when Kant solved the problem of art and shaped its definition for the next two centuries. Kant began with assumptions common to his time: we can recognize “art” and we know what “art” is and that “art” is something we can see. He also assumes “beauty” and hence assumed its existence as an unquestionable quality universally agreed upon. Kant never dealt with specific works of art and thus was removed from the current taste and vogue for classical art. Neo-classicism was the new art in Kant’s time, and it was, briefly, a revolutionary art movement denoting (Greek) freedom and democracy and the promise of individuality, along with (Roman) gravitas and stability. But Neoclassicism was quickly co-opted by post-Revolutionary Academicism. A once-revolutionary movement became a forced and regulated status quo. The Neo-Classical ideal of beauty, before the ideals became rules, was associated with the art of ancient Athens, considered eternal and transcendent. As the poet John Keats best expressed it, in Ode on a Grecian Urn:

….

When old age shall this generation waste,

Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe

Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”—that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

John Keats (1795 – 1821)

“Aesthetics” was that which is sensuous or the perception of sense data. Aesthetics has evolved into a more inclusionary definition that is applied to the arts but in the middle of the Eighteenth Century when A. G. Baumgarten founded a “new science” and published Aesthetica in 1750, aesthetics connected art to life. Although Emmanuel Kant did not invent aesthetics, he formalized the philosophical concept and elaborated aesthetics into a new notion of art that turned out to be uniquely suited to the new century. Although Emmanuel Kant did not invent aesthetics, he formalized the philosophical concept and elaborated aesthetics into a new notion of art that turned out to be uniquely suited to the new century. For the first time “art” became a distinctive value in life and was considered the result of a mode of knowledge, called aesthetics or feelings registered by the subject/viewer in response to the stimulus of an art object. Regardless of the intent of the client or of the artist, the art object is a unique object in that it is contemplated for insight and delight. Alexander Baumgarten widened the field of aesthetics from art to human conduct, opening possibilities for another philosopher, Friedrich Schiller, who would build upon Kantian aesthetics to create theories of art as participating actively in life itself. For all of the eighteenth century pioneer writers, “Aesthetics” is a middle ground, existing somewhere between reason and morality. Aesthetics concerned itself with that which was material or sensuous or plastic—physical life. Like other aspects of human experience, aesthetics needed to be brought into the Kantian epistemological system and subjected to the rigors of reason.

Aesthetics is a dualistic concept, a philosophical play between the artist and the art critic or philosopher. Aesthetics as a branch of philosophy, is not concerned with particular works of art but is more concerned with the question of “art” itself. Obviously, the contemporary meaning of the word, “aesthetics” as a particular quality or style of the art or intent of the artist is superficial and limited and incorrect. Fundamentally, Aesthetics, like any other branch of philosophy, attempts to determine the grounds of “art,” its ontology, and the system of knowledge that produces and constructs the mode of judgment or contemplation of art, its epistemology. Once art had been justified as an activity legitimated by its role in society as teacher and instructor and educator, working for the benefit of the community. In Giotto’s time, his profession was ancillary to the needs of the religious institution that contracted for his services. As Michael Baxendall pointed out in Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy, the artist or artisan or skilled workman, was a contract worker, doing what he was told. However, four hundred years later, in the modern period, art needed two things. First, a reason for being: ontology, and second, a definition: epistemology. Although it was not Kant’s precise intention to create a new meaning and purpose for art, the effects of his philosophy was to link art to personal expressiveness and individual freedom. It was Kant who ushered in Romanticism by devising a theory of aesthetics that perfectly suited the times.

Given that aesthetics is a branch of philosophy, Kant proceeded by putting art into his transcendental system. As is characteristic of his system, the idea of art was divided into two parts that correspond to self and object, that is, contemplation by the viewer of the work of art itself. The ontology of a work of art is not the object, not even the artist, but the recognition of “art” which is a perceptual and conceptual act. Too see is to judge/contemplate. Art vision, like any vision, is never raw; it is always tempered and educated and acts according to (Kantian) rules. Kant’s Critique of Judgment (1790) was the third in his trilogy of epistemology. In his first two Critiques, Kant established new ground for reason and morality and the third Critique had to establish a universal and transcendent basis for making a judgment. What did one have the occasion to judge? One judges all the time and one judges emotionally, often based upon a physical reaction or a sensation to a perception or a sight of an object considered “beautiful” or “ugly” and so on. Depending upon the extent of the reaction, one could judge the man as more or less beautiful or the house as more or less ugly. These reactions are personal and localized and are dependent upon individual taste. In other words, Kant could have selected any category of experience in which humans exercise judgment, such as the law which weighs the fate of human beings, but he selected art, a surprising choice.

To select the judgment of art as the centerpiece of this critique was a very modern move on the part of a man who had little experience of art himself. Kant was born in, lived in, worked in, wrote in, and died in one place, Königsberg, and, as far as we know, knew of art only through reading about it. In an age before color printing, he might have seen engravings of famous works; in a time before photography, he would have had only an approximate idea of what any work of art looked like. One can surmise that perhaps he selected art as the center of his Critique on judgment because he had no strong feelings about the topic. We know, for example, that Kant had a strong reaction to the French Revolution, which erupted a year before this last book was published. Surely, the judgment of the revolutionaries upon the hapless aristocrats would have provided a dramatic case study, but Kant selected areas far less topical and far more eternal and universal: nature, the sublime and art, which involved volatile taste, a troublesome reaction that needed to be brought under control. Unlike the sentencing of criminals, art was not amenable to judgment under a system of laws from the state and did not fall within the sphere of morality, nor did art traffic with reason. Simply by removing art from the rule of law or morality was to free works of art and artists from age-old tutelage at the hands of the powerful or the religious. Like the rest of society, art had become secular, and, in becoming secular, it had lost its place in society. Coincidentally, Kant was writing at the precise time the artist was losing the class that had been the traditional patrons, the aristocrats, to the guillotine in France. In the Nineteenth Century, the purpose of art and the role of artists were questions, and, regardless of his intentions, Kant’s aesthetics proved to be the new answers.

If you have found this material useful, please give credit to

Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed. Thank you.

[email protected]


Podcast Episode 14: French Romanticism: Delacroix, Part One

DELACROIX THE ROMANTIC

Part One

A member of the famous Bohemian crowd of French avant-garde art, Delacroix was considered the rebellious leader of French Romanticism. Like all artists of his generation, he had missed out on Napoléonic glory but found excitement in the clash of civilizations between the Europeans and the Muslims with the war between the Turks and the rebellious Greeks. The paintings of Delacroix followed the struggle for democracy among the Greeks abroad and the lower classes at home. The painting of Liberty Leading the People was so stirring that it was decades before it was permitted by the French state to be displayed in a public museum. However, Delacroix was a conservative, who feared revolution and preferred peace and quiet in order to make art. His greatest battles were fought in the Salon with his supreme rival, Ingres.

Also listen to: “The French Romantics: Gros and Girodet, Part One” and “The French Romantics: Gros and Girodet, Part Two” and “French Romanticism, Ingres, Part Two” and “French Romanticism, Delacroix, Part Two”

Also read: “French Romanticism: The Historical Context” and “The French Academy: Painting” and “French Romanticism: Subject Matter and the Artist” and “French Romanticism and the Avant-Garde”

 

If you have found this material useful, please give credit to
Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed.

Thank you.
[email protected]

Important Announcement

The Podcasts from this Website

by Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette

are now available through iTunes and can be listened to on your iPad or iPhone

Remember to download the iBooks app to your iPad or iPhone

Art History Unstuffed: The Podcasts

Also the complete

Art History Timeline Videos

by Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette

are now available and can be viewed on You Tube

This twenty-seven episode series of five minute videos span Western art history, from the Caves to Romanticism. The videos can be used by students and teachers as introductory, supplementary or review material. Each video is written,narrated and produced by the author of this website, and is reinforced by written text and is richly illustrated by many images. The entire Timeline can be accessed through

this link: Art History Timeline