Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that began in Europe towards the end of the 18th century and lasted until around 1848. The cultural-historical term Biedermeier has become a synonym for Romanticism in art historiography, especially in Austria, although recent exhibitions have emphasised the different forms of expression that were cultivated in the Habsburg monarchy between Milan and Prague.
Historically and politically, Romanticism was the epoch of great social and martial upheavals: It began with the French Revolution in 1789 and the Napoleonic Wars, continued through the Congress of Vienna and the Battle of Waterloo to the revolutionary year of 1848.
At the centre of Romanticism is the self with its individual feelings and thoughts. The art of the early 19th century is characterised by an emphasis on the affects and individuality, plus the glorification of the past and nature, with the Middle Ages giving way to the Classical period.
Romanticism is interpreted partly as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the social changes brought about by the French Revolution and partly to the scientific rationalisation of nature in the emerging sciences. One of the central concepts of Romanticism is freedom (and the struggle for freedom). Romanticism thus had an influence not only on the arts, but also on politics and education, the emergence of nationalism and liberalism.
The forerunners of Romanticism - Johann Heinrich Füssli and Francisco de Goya or the writers of the Sturm und Drang - already referred to feelings as the source of aesthetic experience, although they did not exclude horror and terror, along with admiration and awe, and thus helped to found "Black Romanticism". Individual imagination, the sublime and the beauty of nature were discussed as new aesthetic categories. In the second half of the 19th century, realism and impressionism replaced romanticism.