Art, in the 19th Century, as Mechanism for Representing Politics


The 19th century was characterized by many famous artists and the fame they came along with it. Romanticism and realism are some of the best themes of painting that were invented in the past. Despite being painted in two different periods of time with various stylistic choices, the pictures of Manet and Goya both vividly portray the political unrest that was occurring in society. The two artists have used art to explain political views of different politicians and political events during that time. Briefly, their work helped to describe the relationship that existed between power and skill that took place across different cultures and epochs. Therefore, the two artists used their work to portray events, as well as political activities that occurred or which had chances of happening. They had to take a social dimension as a way of evaluating different techniques that can compel the society to undertake a significant social change. One of the general views that made the use of the art to explain political events was based on the fact that it was deemed a free spirit capable of restructuring and defining its course. Therefore, this paper is set to determine how the Art in the 19th century represented various political events and policies.

The 19th Century Art

The 19th-century art was characterized with a lot of artists who delved on relating their work to politics. The century’s artwork mainly investigated on explaining various political situations that were taking place in France and many of the artists were Frenchmen. Most of the artwork took place during the Napoleon Bonaparte’s rule as he was a firm rule of his times. A lot of the developments in artwork that took place in France culminated into a lot of parallel changes in the political arena. The birth of romanticism was also another crucial political factor that called for more paintings that could help top explain various political events that took place during the time. It is worth noting that technological and social upheavals were witnessed hugely during the 19th century. They were very common in the Western world. The industrial revolution had created a clear path for the proliferation of the urbanization structure. The trend also gave rise to an increase in the population of the working class, which lived in deplorable condition. Additionally, the newly emerging and strengthening global superpower had started expanding their boundaries by force or by engaging those living within them. Therefore, the political paradigm shift gave rise to a new form of artistic work that tended to portray various political theme that either praised the top political figures or denounced some of their actions. The major hub of the creative works during this era was Paris. Therefore, most of the paintings portrayed a lot of favoritism towards the Neoclassicism and Romanticism political concepts as they evolved and grew over time.  Francisco Goya was one of the artists who were very keen on representing the French salon and Academy system as one that promoted the better political system. Goya’s paintings presented many political, as well as social commentaries made by influential leaders of their times. However, a string of defiance painters during the second half of the century started emerging with EdouardManet being one of them. Manet did a lot of artwork that advocated for the modernism concepts and principles, as well as the avant-garde. Such political sentiments started becoming stronger after the industrialization forces started to become more evident. Therefore, Manet and the like-minded felt compelled to use art to advocate forte end of the end of corrupt politics through the use of the impression. Their work portrayed that they were for the modernism and rejected any political dominance over the others.

Realism and Art Work revolving around it

The art that surfaced during realism was novel as it was different from the one produced during the Romantic period. It was an artistic movement, which commenced in the early 1850s in France. It started to take place after the end of the revolutionary movement. The pro-realism poetic did not accept the romanticism concept. Therefore, they were of the opinion that realism could be used to avoid any form of emotionalism and other artistic drams that could hide the truth. Accordingly, realism art referred to the mode of portraying the subjected as it was without hiding any truth. It concentrated on showing the real colors of the prominent people such as the politicians and the situations they created to others. Therefore, the artists embracing the concept avoided any implausible, supernatural, and exotic elements that could have the capability of distorting the truth they were about to communicated through art. Therefore, realistic artists emphasized on the embracing of the mundane and sordid or ugly work as a way of preventing their work in different forms such as social realism and regionalism.

Information about Manet Paintings

Manet came from a wealthy background and therefore was specific resources were readily available. Manet’s journey of becoming a renowned artist wasn’t cut and dry, as his dad wasn’t a fan of Manet pursuing art. After failing his entrance exam for the Navy and not having much success in the Marnies, Manet’s father changed his mind and allowed Manet to pursue art. It was at this point that the Manet flourished as an artist.

Manet’s the Barricade is an essential piece of art. It vividly portrays the political turmoil that was occurring in France. To be more specific it is referring to the Paris Commune. The Paris Commune was an impactful event that served as a model which illustrated the organic methods used by the government. On the surface, this painting creates this sense of incompleteness. However, this is a representation of the style that Manet is known to use. The shading is done in a manner where Manet wants us to focus on the essential things represented in the painting, and that is the fight that is ensuing on the streets between the soldiers and the ordinary people. This method is referred to as lithography. Lithography is a method of painting that has to do with not being able to mix oil and water.















Romanticism and the Art

Romanticism refers to the period that runs from 1800-185o. It was an artistic movement that emphasized on the need to glorify an individual’s primacy. It was also characterized by presence and demonstration of intense emotions. Therefore, romanticism preferred using medieval over the use of the classical it was also referred to as the industrial revolution reaction. Even through romanticism almost covered all other spheres of life, it concentrated on portraying various political norms and aristocratic social structures. Therefore, this made it have a strong and a significant impact on the already established political structures. The visionary artists and thinker were compelling as they were able to create a positive effect on the nationalism, conservatism, liberalism, and radicalism. It is worth noting that romanticists created a strong emphasis on the need to develop an intense emotion on the need to establish aesthetic sources and experience. Romanticism was seen as an artistic approach that played a critical role in trying to revive medievalism. Therefore, it tended to praise ‘heroic’ individuals such as Napoleon as they were considered to have contributed a lot to improving people’s lives. It was the complete opposite of realism as was not based on the fundamental principle of being right and just in representing a hero through the artwork.

Goya the Third of May

Goya is one famous artist who based their work on romanticism principles. Therefore, he did a lot of artistic work masterpieces one of them being the memorable event that took place during the third of May. Earlier, Napoleon tricked Charles IV, who was then the King of Spain and installed his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, as the new king. Therefore, during the 2nd and 3rd of May in 1808, many Spanish people rebelled the move and became freedom fighters to restore their king. In the process, many of them ended up being killed by the army of the French people. Their blood was spilled all over the Madrid streets.

The event marked the end of the Goya’s romanticism artistic work as it was hard to change his allegiance after many of his countrymen died. For the first time, he embraced realism as a way of expressing his disgust of the massacre of his fellow countrymen. He created a great masterpiece of painting portrayed the cruelty imposed by Napoleon on Spanish. It has been regarded as one best and the first modern art painting in the world today. The picture was deemed a source of inspiration by other artists. Both Picasso and Manet are an example of artists who used it as a reference and source of inspiration in developing their artistic works. It created a powerful message that the world was taking an accurate statement of not engaging in any form of war. Goya did not want to create conflict between countries but wanted to portray war as a bad omen that causes death to fellow human beings who are just some few feet from each other.





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