From rationalism to European romanticism, the first half of the 19th century
Industrialisation and advances in science and technology did not bring relief to the masses, and as the creative minds of Europe tried to find an alternative inner source for aesthetic experience the “mysterious East” became crucial.
Romanticism in literature was an intellectual movement that has been seen as a response to the negative side of the Industrial Revolution and to rationalism in the arts. Romanticism manifested itself variously in different countries, so while it is closely associated with nationalism in Central Europe it was associated with the revolutionary ideals of the French Revolution in Western Europe. The Romantics searched for aesthetic experience in emotions, and held up folk art, whether European or “Oriental”, as exemplary. Translation of the Arabian Nights and the foundation of a new literary genre the “Oriental Tale” had a powerful influence on its development. Among the most renowned Romantic writers are H. de Balzac and A. Dumas (France); E. A. Poe (USA); Sir W. Scott, T. Chatterton and Lord Byron (UK); J. W. von Goethe (Germany); and A. Pushkin (Russia). Prominent motifs of Romanticism are nature, the supernatural, folk art, mythology and travel. Romanticism was followed by Naturalism towards the end of the 19th century.
Lord Byron

c. 1840 (date of publication)

The Library of Congress, Washington, United States of America, Public domain


The English poet Lord Byron was a pre-eminent figure of European romanticism best known for his narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and the short lyrical poem “She Walks in Beauty”.

See Database entry for this item

In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
Dance and entertainment