A complex artistry in Western Europe during the uprising of Industrial Revolution in early eighteenth century was the era of Romanticism.  The emersion or Romanticism artist was part of an irrational revolt to the recent Age of Enlightenment by the so-called enlightened philosophers and scientists.  Having the classicism and realism utilizing subjects of landscape, seascape, and minorities such as women, children and outcasts dominated visual arts in the time of Romanticism.

The Monk by the Sea by Caspar David Friedrich

            Created in 1809 or 1810 approximately by the German Romanticist artist Caspar David Friedrich, the oil painting in canvass entitled The Monk by the Sea illustrated landscape scenery explaining nature’s dominion over mankind.  The image of a man or a monk as he described it was belittled by the land or sea he is standing.  The imagery of an almost cumulonimbus smoky like cloudy sky dramatically depicted a panoramic view of the raucous environment as if a storm is likely approaching.  The stance of the man whether he was in gloominess, in shock or in calm state has not been observed because of its diminutive picture.  However, the wholeness of the picture, the texture, tone and shading of its hue portrayed an unsure feeling of the man and perhaps the painter himself which the viewer may also feel.

This landscape was somehow a sudden transformation of visual interpretation in the West because during this time, portraits of saints depicted in very loud large sizes were more likely gained popularity.

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Saturn Devouring One of His Sons by Francisco Goya

            A truly gruesome portrait of Saturn as he was mercilessly feasting one of his sons to prevent the prophecy that one of them would supplant his throne was realistically conveyed by the Spanish Romanticist artist Francisco Goya.  This portrait was one of the fourteen Black Paintings series, all in oil medium, by this artist in the circa 1819 to 1823.  Said paintings were displayed at his house in Madrid.

Most of Goya’s works reflected depressing and horrifying moods as he was resentful by the civil strife happening in their nation at that moment.  This painting alone could transmit a disturbing impression to the viewer.

Raft of Medusa by Theodore Gericault

            One of the well-acclaimed icons of French Romanticism was the oil painting on canvas with the size larger than the life size that has entitled Raft of Medusa.  Finish when the French Romanticist painter Theodore Gericault was just 27 years old back in circa 1818-1819, he claimed that this artwork was his first major masterpiece.  The Raft of Medusa was a realistic illustration of a historical period which became scandalous not only in France and Europe but also in international perspective as well.  As what in real life believably happened in the Raft of Medusa, the picture depicted a tragedy of a hurriedly constructed raft that was wandered in the sea for several days.

The picture entailed images of people who experienced starvation, dehydration, insanity and cannibalism.  The dark shading of the painting as well as the sharpness of its tone portrayed dreadfulness and grief in this terrifying incident.

Compare and Contrast

            Francisco Goya, Caspar David Friedrich and Theodore Gericault became appreciated widely by their common artists especially those who were on similar perspectives of life’s imperfections and negativity.  These three were alike in some manners such as loving to use the medium of oil in canvas with the usage of earth colors and natural subject matter.  Other similarities they have are the downhearted moods and depressing shading from which the current time of upheaval and anxiety has been reflected through their chosen genres.  In the three given artworks, people from different angles and approaches were well-presented.

            On the other hand, the difference of how these three perceive life was also interpreted on their artworks.  Friedrich, with its clarity and vagueness style, chose to illustrate an image of a man in a very small picture which suggest man’s little place on earth.  Goya made a very large image of Saturn who was evilly portrayed when gnawing his son’s body while Gericault successfully expressed tragedy caused by men that was inevitably happen even when the presence of so many.


            Romanticism era depicted reality including man and life’s imperfection.  It gave the impression that the awfulness which people thought that life itself has brought without any human intervention was actually wrong and reversed.  Hence, the help of Western European Romanticism artist to brought it into light was actually remarkable and perhaps, endless.


Friedrich, C. D. (1809). Overwhelmed by the natural world. Monk by the Sea. Oil on



Gericault, T. (1819). The Raft of the Medusa. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from Wikipedia,

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Goya, F. (1823). Saturn Devouring One of His Sonx. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia Web site:

Landscape in the Arts – The Path Toward Landscape, Landscape East And West,

Attitudes Toward The Landscape, Scholarship On The Landscape. Retrieved

March 10, 2009, from

Romanticism. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from A European

International Web site:

Taylor & Francis. (2009). European Romantic Review: Journal of the North American Societyfor the Study of Romanticism (NASSR). London: Routledge.


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