Photographs of the Romantic Era

The Romantic Era

The Romantic art movement happened in the 18th century. The Romantic Era brought about many advances in the arts. An advancement that had caught my eye was photographs taken during the Romantic Era.

Visual Arts in the Romantic Era

Early Photography in the 1800’s had not only contained artistic merit, it could also be described as journalistic to others. However, in my opinion, early photographs were not exclusive to journalistic merit, but had contained traces of artistic merit in multiple photographs from the era that can be observed in the examples provided below.

Winter on Fifth Avenue


Winter on Fifth Avenue, New York, Alfred Stieglitz 1893

Alfred Stieglitz was an American photographer (January 1, 1864-July 13, 1946). He had captured the photo Winter on Fifth Avenue, in New York in 1893. From the photograph above the tint of the photo allows the audience to be drawn back in time. The elements of the photograph that were captured add to the overall experience of the viewer. The texture of the snow had drawn my attention to the details within the photograph. The lines from the carriages that had driven through the snow, had led my sight to the carriage approaching. These aspects had allowed me to appreciate the photograph as it had made me feel as if I was walking down Fifth Avenue in New York in 1893.

The Manger


Gertrude Kasebier, The Manger, 1899

Gertrude Käsebier shot this photograph The Manger in 1899, on Newport, Rhode Island. Käsebier had enlisted her friend, Frances Delehanty to model for the image. Gertrude Käsebier was more interested in creating a study of shade and tone rather than telling a story. The photographer achieved this aspiration that can be seen in the elements of the photo, The Manger. The photo had an emotional impact on me when I had first viewed the photo. The emotions I had experienced can be best described as sadness and hope, due to the light and dark shadows. The texture of the photo is interesting, it appears rough or to be painted rather than the smoothness of common photographs. The model appears to be a ghostly figure due to apparel chosen for the photograph. This aspect allows a darkness to be drawn from the photograph, this element can capture an audiences attention. I appreciated the multiple aspects of the painting that reflects a darkness to the photo.



Niagara, Frederic Edwin Church, 1857

Niagara  was painted by Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), the painting was composed on the Canadian shore in 1857.  The painting was depicted of the beautiful Niagara Falls. The elements within the painting reflect the beauty of Niagara. You can see the mist in the center of the falls, as well as the dark clouds above. These small details add to the realistic effect that the painting reflects. The colors in the painting are dramatic and allow the audience to feel as if they are in the scene/nature. I enjoyed the use of color and the realistic perspective that the painting reflects.

The reason I chose this painting to compare to the photographs of the Romantic Era is due to the realistic style of the painting Niagara. The painting reflects an “almost photo-like” appearance, which can be compared to the photographs in an art analysis. While they may be different forms of art (photo vs. painting) they both reflect a moment captured in time.


 “Alfred Stieglitz.” (…) Masters of Photography. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016.

 “Alfred Stieglitz (…) – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.” N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.

 “The Manger 1899.” (…) National Museum of Women in the Arts. NMWA, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2016.

 “Niagara.” (…) National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.


2 thoughts on “Photographs of the Romantic Era

  1. I agree that Romantic era photography was not simply journalistic. The photo by Alfred Steiglitz, “Winter on Fifth Avenue”, transports the viewer to that time and place. Not only that, it is artistically well done also. The way the misty background and snow covered ground makes the carriage stand out and the angle in which the carriage is shot give the photo the beauty that pushes it from journalistic to art. I was also moved by Gertrude Kasebier’s piece “The Manager”. She clearly had an incredible eye for finding and capturing art. It is a piece that I could easily see hanging in an art museum. I think the painting “Niagara” by Frederic Edwin Church was a great comparison piece for the realism of a painting from that era next to the photographs you chose.


  2. I agree with your comparison of the painting, “Niagara” to the other two photographs. You really can’t tell the difference between the photographs and painting due to the low quality of the photo and high end quality of the painting. I really find it interesting to see a real photograph of New York city back in the 1800s and compare it to now. It really is mind blowing. I agree that the shadowing in the photo, “The Manger” which brings a nice touch overall. You can find more info on the “Winter of 5th Avenue” here. Thank you and have a great day.


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