Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that emerged in Europe towards the end of the 18th century. The movement can be interpreted as a reaction against the Industrial Revolution, the social changes that occurred at the time, as well as the scientific rationalization of nature during the Enlightenment.
In the visual arts, the emphasis on emotions as well as the glorification of the past and the worship of nature played a significant role. The representatives of Romanticism were interested in the sublime and the associated sense of unattainability and immensity. Feelings were considered the source of aesthetic experience, whereby not only admiration but also horror and fear found expression in the artworks. In landscape painting, the focus was laid especially on the relationship between the sublime, the overwhelming nature and the human being, who appeared insignificantly small in comparison.
Artists such as Alexandre Calame (1810 - 1864) and Gustave Eugène Castan (1823 - 1892) recognized sublimity especially in the forces of nature and equated them in their depictions with almost religious experiences. Their dramatic landscapes show imposing and sometimes frightening natural surroundings, which symbolize infinity, longing and awe. Others, such as Johann Gottfried Steffan (1815 - 1905) and François Diday (1802 - 1877) focused on the depiction of mystical landscapes instead, characterized by an atmospheric and transcendent mood of light.
The show in Zürich presents a carefully curated selection of works by Alexandre Calame, Gustave Eugène Castan, François Diday, Otto Viktor Frölicher, Niklaus Pfyffer, Johann Gottfried Steffan, J. M. William Turner and Robert Zünd.