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Romantic and Neo-classic Art Essay

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Updated: Oct 12th, 2018

The Neo-classic era and the Romantic era have always had distinct differences in terms of features and characteristics. From political, moral, heroic and artistic themes, the distinction between these eras is always outstanding (Brion, 2003). Neoclassicism always emphasizes on precision, order, intellect and a rational mind as major themes.

The main objective of neoclassicism is to achieve perfection in studying the human mind. The neoclassicism era was followed by the Romantic era that tends to oppose the neoclassic era (Palmer, 2011). Romantic era constantly focused on the forces of nature with an aim of sparking emotions and pleasure. This paper will highlight the differences between Watteau’s painting of the storm from the neoclassical era and Delacroix’s storm painting from the Romantic era.

The two paintings by Watteau and Delacroix depict storms in different ways due to the different styles employed by the artists. Watteau’s painting titled the storm exhibits features of a Neo-classical work whereas Delacroix’s Christ on the Sea of Galilee is of a romantic work (Palmer, 2011).

The characteristics within the two paintings show the difference that exists in the paintings in terms of style. Watteau’s painting has got some outstanding features associated with the Neo-classical era paintings. When the painting is observed closely, its profile is very clear especially people’s profile.

Due to the clarity of the profile, an observer is able to see minute details such as facial expressions even without feeling the actual emotions of the people as depicted by the artist (De Almeida, 2005). The personality of people in the paintings is somehow subdued despite the profound facial expression.

Neo-classicism era paintings are associated with enlightment and precision whereas Romantic era paintings are associated with highlighting the artist’s imagination meant to evoke the observer’s emotions (Cleaver, 1988). It is important to note these general differences before analyzing the paintings by the artists in order to bring out the differences. Watteau is known to prefer using the neoclassic style as opposed to Delacroix’s preferred Romantic style.

The painting titled Christ at the Sea of Galilee by Delacroix appears to bring out the aesthetic effect in the storm meant to spark emotions and pleasure to the audience (Rosenblum, 1970). The Romantic painting by Delacroix highlights nature as major source of truth and pleasure. The two painting represent a storm in opposing contexts in terms of emotions and time. Watteau’s painting is more objective compared to the subjective nature of Delacroix’s painting of the storm.

Watteau’s painting clearly highlights the actual time before the actual storm takes place. Although the painting is supposed to portray a storm and its dramatic effects, it focuses more on time and facial expressions as a way of suppressing emotions (Palmer, 2011).

Neoclassicism sees a rational mind as the ideal state and attempts to minimize emotions as much as possible. The colors used in this painting are dull and less lively but the feelings in the painting are somehow conceivable. The neo-classic painting by Watteau avoids a lot of drama and focuses more on employing rationality.

Comparing Watteau’s painting with Delacroix’s Christ on the Sea of Galilee, there is great difference in terms of style (Cleaver, 1988). Since Delacroix’s painting if of the Romantic era, the use of a dramatic style is clearly outstanding to the observer. Delacroix’s storm painting has got lively and vivid colors making the painting to appear inconceivable .

The vivid colors used are essential in bringing out the intense feelings and pleasure associated with Romantic era paintings. The difference in style of these two paintings gives the observer an opportunity to explore the artistic themes of the artists. Both painting are a wonderful spectacle to the observer and demonstrate how style in important in bringing out some features in a painting depending on the message the artist is trying to pass across (Cleaver, 1988).

The painting by Delacroix depicts the style of the Romantic era with full of emotions. The profile of this painting is not clear and makes it difficult to identify some features in the painting. Despite the lack of clarity in the painting’s profile, the storm depicted in this painting is very vicious with some emotional undertones (Cleaver, 1988). Despite the painting being blurred the storm seems so intense with the ability to spark some emotions in the observer. The images appear blurred like the ones in a dream.

In conclusion, there exist a number of differences between Romantic era and Neo-classical era paintings in terms of emotional representation. The Paintings by Watteau and Delacroix of a storm depict how a difference in style can bring out different features and emotions in a painting.

The Neo-classical era paintings are associated with clear image profiles with less emotional undertones. The Romantic era paintings as depicted in Delacroix’s painting are associated with blurred images with a lot of emotional undertones. The same painting can appear completely different because of the features introduced by a difference in style


Brion, M. (2003). Romantic art. New York, NY: Textbook Publishers.

Cleaver, D. (1988). Art: An introduction. New York, NY: Harcourt Braca Jovanovich.

De Almeida, H. (2005). Indian renaissance: British romantic art and the prospect of India. New York, NY: Ashgate Publishing.

Palmer, R. (2011). Historical dictionary of romantic art and architecture. New York, NY: Scarecrow Press.

Rosenblum, R. (1970). The transformation in late eighteenth century art. New York, NY: Princeton University Press.

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