An Autumn of German Romanticism

Richard Evans discusses the nature of the German Romanticism in the wake of a major new initiative on London's South Bank.

It has often been forgotten – not least in Germany itself – that Germany was the cradle of Romanticism. When the famous Centenary Exhibition of German Art, covering the years from 1775 to 1875, was held in Berlin in 1906, the work of artists such as Caspar David Friedrich and Philipp Otto Runge, which had been largely forgotten over the previous few decades, came to many Germans as R revelation. Elsewhere in Europe it had to wait even longer for recognition. French artistic trends dominated, from Impressionism onwards, and it was only with the Surrealist rediscovery of the irrational in the 1930s that German Romanticism began to attract a certain amount of attention. Even then, relatively little of it was available in galleries outside Germany, and Modernist fashion continued to decry landscape painters who seemed to have little that was novel or original to offer in the way of technique.

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