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For one-semester courses in 19th-Century Art, and two-semester courses that cover the periods of 1760-1830 and 1830-1900. This much-needed survey explores the history of nineteenth-century European art and visual culture. Focusing primarily on painting and sculpture, it places these two art forms within the larger context of visual cultureincluding photography, graphic design, architecture, and decorative arts. In turn, all are treated within a broad historical framework to show the connections between visual cultural production and the political, social, and economic order of the time.
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The Story of Nineteenth-Century Art This book tells the story of nineteenth-century art. Like all "true" stories, it is manufactured from the raw material of historic facts. To develop a narrative, the storyteller, of necessity, will take a selective approach to those facts, giving more weight to some than to others and leaving many out altogether. Of course, the choice of what to include or leave out is not just the storyteller's own. Time itself has already acted like a sieve, retaining certain elements while letting others slip into oblivion. Moreover, as the story has been told and retold, a certain consensus has developed as to what is essential and what is secondary; who are the stars and who are the extras; which events make up the story's turning points and which just keep it going. Even with these points of consensus, the story will continue to evolve over time as each generation brings new expectations to it. Time Frame and Context History, whether political or cultural, cannot be packaged neatly in century-long periods. Historic periodization follows its own rhythm, which rarely coincides with man-made calendars. Thus, to tell properly the story of nineteenth-century art, we must begin nearly forty years before 1800, during the third quarter of the eighteenth century. At that time, many thinkers in both Europe and America believed that the world was undergoing a tremendous ideological and cultural upheaval. In 1759 the French philosopher and mathematician Jean d'Alembert wrote: A most remarkable change in our ideas is taking place, one of such rapidity that it seems to promise a greater change still to come. It will be for the future to decide the aim, the nature, and the limits of this revolution, the drawbacks and disadvantages of which posterity will be able to judge better than we can. D'Alembert's sense of his own time was very acute: exactly twenty years after he wrote down his prophetic words, the French Revolution broke out, ending a monarchy that had lasted for nearly nine hundred years and setting in motion, first in France, then elsewhere in Europe, a slow but steady process of democratization. Three years earlier, in 1776, the American colonies had declared their independence from British imperial rule in a document so far reaching that to this day it contains the underlying principles of the political and moral organization of the free, democratic world. While these political upheavals went on, the Industrial Revolution was also gaining momentum. In 1769 the British inventor James Watt patented the first efficient steam engine. Together with an unending stream of further inventions, it caused the mechanization of manufacturing, which led to a vast increase in the production of consumer goods. The unprecedented supply of commodities and the markets that needed to be developed to sell them encouraged the full flowering of capitalism. From the early nineteenth century onwards, the steam engine also led to the development of steamboats and trains, which enabled a growing mobility of people and goods. Communications advanced through the improvement of the mail delivery system as well as the invention of the electric telegraph in the 1830s. It was important not only for sending personal messages but also for the rapid travel of news from one place to another. Nineteenth-century newspapers thus could report more immediately and accurately on events happening throughout the world. The nineteenth century reaped both the blessings and the curses of the political, economic, and communications revolutions that had begun in the latter part of the eighteenth century. The gradual democratization of Europe was attended by continual political unrest. A major European-wide revolution marked the year 1848; smaller national or local uprisings occurred in various parts of Europe, throughout the nineteenth and well into the twentieth century.<