The ideas and concerns of the Romantic Period can be seen in other forms of art as well as in literature.
Below you can see Dedham Vale by John Constable. This picture was painted in 1802, and is a good example of the art of the time.
In the picture we see a country scene painted from a hill, from which can be seen gently rolling grassland, intersected by a lazily meandering river, which flows towards a town. The town is in the background, and little can be seen of it except its church tower.
There are a number of features of this picture which relate to or offer comment on the thinking and ideals of the Romantic Period:
- Nature is paramount. In this picture, nature is literally in the foreground, and the human impact upon the landscape is tiny, and literally in the background.
- The light surrounds us. Compare this with Wright's painting, and the most immediately noticable contrast between them is the relative darkness of Wright's picture, alleviated mainly by the light from the central experiment, and the light tones of Constable's work. The Romantic period saw the natural, and especially the pastoral, as means to spiritual enlightnement, with little need of learning or things material (see Wordsworth's The world is too much with us and Expostulation and Reply).
- Humanity is a small part of the big picture. It is no accident that in this painting the perspective shows the trees as huge and the town as tiny: this reflects the relative humility of the Romantic Period (as compared with the Enlightenment). Nature is shown as great in terms of size and power, too - the trees dwarf the town, the situation of which has been dictated by the position of the river. This contrasts starkly with Wright's picture in which the beautiful bird is at the mercy of the demonstrator and the natural light and beauty of the moon is being shut out.
- Faith is highly important. The church tower dominates the town in a way which is rarely true of modern towns, where the highest buildings are high-rise flats or office tower blocks. Dedham Vale shows the church as the most obvius, most visible part of the town, reflecting the Romantic Period's religious side.
- People are not the focus of the universe. There is not a single person to be seen in Constable's painting. Comapre this with the highly humanistic Enlightenment work, where the experiment provides the setting for the painting, but it is the relationships and facial expressions of the family group which tell its story.