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date: 02 March 2024

Romanticism, American 

The Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists

Ann Lee Morgan

An expression of the unruly international sensibility embracing emotion, intuition, imagination, rapturous response to nature, and social and political freedom, while disdaining classical rationalism, order, and respect for principles. Romanticism implied that reality cannot be fully comprehended by the intellect alone. This idea underlay romanticism’s unifying theme: individual experience as a source of truth. The quest for nonrational paths to understanding glorified extreme forms of human behavior, as well as bizarre, mysterious, and visionary activities. The genius, the hero, the mystic, and the outlaw became glamorous types, whereas religion, drugs, travel, and art itself were seen as means of achieving heightened consciousness. Emphasis on the individual also elevated appreciation for the daily lives of ordinary people and for mundane reality as a source of beauty and wonder. Developing in the later eighteenth century, romanticism transformed the intellectual, artistic, and social life of the Western world. Although it crested in the first decades of the nineteenth century, many aspects of romanticism persist.... ...

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