Romanticism is a term used to refer to a legendary and inventive group that is associated with “Western Europe in the 18th century” (Meade 50). In fact, it was popularized in the 19th century in Latin America by Esteban Echeverria. The idea of romanticism is viewed as a response to the intellectualism and empirical rationalism of European illumination. Besides, Wu (70) perceives it to be a shift from calm and peaceful creative themes that were popular in classist styles. The move from such ideas led to embracement of passion, thoughts, and illogicality. Most of the music, arts, and pieces of literature that were developed during Romanticism focused on eliciting strong feelings by portraying diverse subjects, for example, traditions, ordinary scenes, as well as valiant episodes (Wu 98). The years following the independence of Latin America saw several artists and thinkers embrace romanticism as a method of articulating their emotions concerning the move from nationalism to national identity.
Evidently, the topics of nationalism, national identity, and eccentricity characterized the quixotic approach of Latin American artists and authors in the nineteen century. For example, one of the initial novels emphasized many topics that are well-known in the romanticism by ridiculing the Spanish viceregal court and portraying the Mexican community. It is important to state that after independence romanticism witnessed a parallel political and humanistic struggle between liberals and democrats. Later, it coincided and duplicated in the Latin American projects, whereby it was used to define national identities and boundaries. The Americans began by realizing their individual realities and identities. In romanticism period, most of their paintings focused on topics of restricted color, significant historical occurrences, as well as portraits. The facts are explicit in the portrait of the wife of Mexican general and a president Santa Anna (Meade 80).
Based on the fact that romanticism is Latin America resulted from the wars of independence, it is not surprising to note that prominent politicians and humanist played a pivotal role in producing prose essays and fictions. The writings acted as a means of expressing their grievances during the semi-independence cultural project. After this period, there was a transition to romantic realism, which was significantly influenced by European realists (Meade 98). The impact resulted in the reproduction of the American reality in countryside and cities. Stereotype fashion typified this period and its romanticism, and exclusive features of Latin American parlance were studied in addition to the effort to reproduce them using the strategies they thought were faithful according to the content of objective reality. Heroes were adored, and they employed a fast way of “dividing characters and individuals into the binary opposites of good and evil” (Meade 120).
Two types of romanticism were evident in Latin America as mentioned above, which included the traditional and revolutionary romanticisms. The traditional romanticism focused on defending the restoration of conventional ideals while the revolutionary one concentrated on search and proof of illogical knowledge rejected by rational. Romanticism was typified by a denial of neoclassicism, subjectivity, attraction toward the nocturnal and the mysterious, as well as escapes from the surroundings. Notably, when the artists started painting historical subjects, they were not in a hurry to breaking away from European themes, but they included aspects in the New World into their pictures. For example, the paintings that depict the effect of the war of the triple alliance in Paraguay are examples of the application of realism in romanticism in Latin America.
Therefore, romanticism that was prevalent in the Latin America was characterized by the dependence of the imagination and subjectivity of approach, liberty to thoughts and articulation, and idolization of nature. Notably, most the things that were done during this period focused on promoting views of national identity.
- Meade, Teresa. History of Modern Latin America: 1800 to the Present. Hoboken, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2015. Print.
- Wu, Duncan. Romanticism: an anthology. Vol. 5. Hoboken, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.