Topic: Romanticism and the power of nature (2010) by Debbie McCauley

Topic type:

This paper details how the shift to Romanticism signified a growing appreciation of both the dynamism and restorative power of nature and of its intimate connection with human thought, morality and feelings. It was was written by Debbie McCauley on 31 October 2010 as part of a BA in Humanities and Information & Library Studies.

Amid the work of artists and writers during the period known as Romanticism (approximately 1770-1870) there is evidence of “a growing appreciation of both the dynamism and restorative powers of nature and of its intimate connection with human thought, morality and feelings” (Open University, 2005, Block 1, p. 60). This essay will explore this phenomenon amongst both European and Antipodean writers and artists, and provide evidence as to whether this statement is in fact a justifiable summary of this aspect of the cultural shift from Enlightenment to Romanticism.

Romanticism itself thwarts straightforward definition and instead one needs to take into account various factors occurring in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, primarily in England and Germany, and their effect on the arts. Influences include the American Revolution (1776); the French Revolution (1789); the Napoleonic era; the search for a German national identity; the challenge to the church and monarchy; political turmoil; the rise and urbanisation of the population; the growing industrialization of Britain led by technological progress and the consequential encroachment upon nature.

During the Enlightenment, nature was an object of scientific observation through rationalism and empiricism, a resource to be controlled and exploited, such as in mining, with the goal of advancing humanities progress. The political, economic and social upheavals that were occurring in Europe established a tumultuous background, setting the scene for arts which reflected a longing for a simpler, closer relationship with nature. Attitudes changed and nature became something to be experienced rather than used for ones own ends, the nurturing and restorative effects of nature becoming a soothing panacea to the discordant influence of industrialization.

Several authors credit French philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) as being the ‘Father’ of Romanticism.  This was partly due to his study of botany, published as Reveries of a Solitary Walker in 1777 which seemed to ignite the outburst of Romanic naturalism that followed. His view of nature can be illustrated by his opening sentence in Emile (1762); ‘Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Author of Nature; but everything degenerates in the hands of man’ (Rousseau, 2003, p. 1). This is further explained by Brown (2001); “For many Romantics, their chosen image of creative Genius was the plant, germinating from its seed in its own cycle of life. It obeyed natural law, and could be stunted only by outside intervention” (p. 31).

Nature was viewed in diverse ways by the Romantics and the individual response was of great consequence to the work that flowed from these encounters. Poet William Wordsworth’s (1770-1850) nature was grounded in observation of the untamed and picturesque Lake District of north-western England, whereas one of Germany’s leading Romantic painters, Caspar David Friedrich’s (1774-1840) work was more visionary and imaginative. The focus, however, was still on the individual reaction, and both demonstrate a heightened sensitivity and communion with the natural world.

Romanticism arrived in New Zealand almost half a century later than in Europe. This delay was largely due to the long and perilous sea voyage required to reach the isolated Antipodes as well as the fact that the pioneering populace were generally focused on meeting such basic needs as food, clothing and shelter. The Romantic period amongst European settlers lasted from around 1860 to 1890 (Open Polytechnic, 2006, p. 5) amid such upheavals as the New Zealand Wars (1845-1872), the gold rushes (one of which was in the 1860s) and the Mount Tarawera eruption in 1886 which destroyed the Pink and White Terraces.

Antipodean art was influenced by the work of artist Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) and John Ruskin (1819-1900). Ruskin advocated a love of nature, stating that “I would rather teach drawing that my pupils may learn to love Nature, than teach the looking at Nature that they may learn to draw” (Ruskin, n.d., para. 7). Early Antipodean paintings capture naturalistic details of the New Zealand landscape before major colonisation and urbanisation. The European settlers needed to make sense out of the new environment they found themselves in and the romantic artist was able to help make meaning by recording the landscape and in doing so facilitate the forging of a New Zealand identity. One such artist was the self-taught John Gully (1819-1888). His sketching excursions included both the North and South Islands and his paintings helped engender a “taste and love for the wild exotic beauty of New Zealand” (Docking, 1990, p. 54). Importantly, they were also used to educate European audiences.

Gully was born and raised in Bath, England, and immigrated to New Zealand with his family in 1852. He was “the most romantic of New Zealand landscape painters,” (The Open Polytechnic, 2006, p. 13) producing watercolour landscapes in typical romantic fashion of picturesque lakes, lofty mountains and mist-shrouded valleys. He frequently made paintings from the sketches of his German friend, geologist and explorer Sir Julius Von Haast (1822-1887); “It was through von Haast he was able to establish himself as one of New Zealand’s great painters” (McLean, 2001, p. 48). Although structurally his landscapes were geographically accurate, Gully added picturesque elements from his own romantic vision. He wrote to Haast; “I can bear testimony to the correctness of the outlines you gave me to copy” (quoted in The Open Polytechnic, 2006, p. 13).

Alfred Domett (1811-1887) arrived in New Zealand in 1842, returning to England in 1871. His 500 page romantic epic, a narrative poem entitled Ranolf and Amohia: A South Sea Day-Dream, was published in 1872. It is about a sailor and a Māori princess cavorting in unspoiled nature, harking back to Rousseau’s theory of the ‘noble savage’ who, although inherently good, lived by following his own impulses according to his own sense of natural laws of reason, religion and morality. The ‘noble savage’ was uncorrupted by the negative effects of modern civilization, better off living in their natural state of childlike peace and innocence where simplicity brought wisdom. Ranolf and Amohia illustrates a fictitious view of an idealised pre-European Māori society, one where Māori were “sealed within a romantic past” providing “justification for colonialism” (The Open Polytechnic, 2006, p. 14).

The concept of the sublime was defined by English philosopher Edmund Burke (1729-1797) in his Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, published in 1756. The sublime engendered feelings of awe, elation, horror and fear produced by the vast, mysterious or unknown such as vast, rugged, shadowy things, including mountains, oceans. In New Zealand the sublime could be evoked by such natural phenomena as the Southern Alps, murky forests, volcanoes, the Pink and White Terraces and stunning lakes and waterfalls.

Gully’s Two Waterfall Glacier, Valley of the River Macaulay, 4080 ft is a 59.3 x 47cm watercolour painted in 1862 featuring twin waterfalls either side of a glacier. There is a rocky foreground, the Southern Alps behind and an exploration team crossing a deep valley in the long middle distance; “likely to be Haast’s group, the first Europeans to explore this area” (McLean, 2001, p. 102). Gully has remained faithful to Haast’s sketch in that he follows the pinnacles and shape of the glacier but has taken artistic liberty with the other features.  In the foreground he has added sharp rocks and skeletal trees. The tiny figures give the view a sense of the sublime, demonstrating the overwhelming scale of the landscape.

An example of the sublime aspect of nature in literature, one where nature frighteningly asserts its power over men, can be seen in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s (1772-1834) The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which he started in 1797. It is essentially an investigation into the supernatural; the hallucinogenic and dream-like qualities of the poem in all likelihood facilitated by the author’s opium habit. Coleridge epitomises the stereotypical, suffering Romantic genius. At the poems beginning an Ancient Mariner stops a Wedding Guest, compelling him with his “glittering eye” (Coleridge, 1991, line 13, p. 173) to sit and listen to his tale of regret. It begins in the Mariner’s younger years when he set sail in fair weather with a good wind. This is until the ship reaches the equator when a terrible storm hits and drives it towards the South Pole and into a bleak and impenetrable ‘rime’ (an icy patch of ocean) where the ice is mast-high. All seems lost until an Albatross appears out of the mist and, upon being fed by the sailors the ice breaks, and they are able to steer through.

The Albatross follows the ship as it returns northward and is fed and revered by the sailors. Inexplicably the Mariner shoots the Albatross with his cross-bow which the sailors, fearing it is an ill-omen, berate him for. The ship enters the Pacific Ocean and sails north towards the equator once more where it is suddenly becalmed. The sun becomes overwhelming hot and there is no drinkable water; “Water, water, every where,/Nor any drop to drink” (Coleridge, 1991, lines 121-122, p. 176), and many ghastly creatures; “slimy things did crawl with legs/Upon the slimy sea” (Coleridge, 1991, lines 125-126, p. 176). The thirst makes the sailors dumb and they hang the Albatross around the Mariner’s neck. After a weary time a ship appears on the horizon, the Mariner bites his arm and sucks the blood, relieving his parched throat so that he can cry out to the sailors.

Joy turns to fear as they see the ship sails steadily without wind and is manned by a spectre-woman, Life-in-Death, and her mate Death in the form of a man. Both are gambling for the Mariner’s soul. Life-in-Death wins and leaves the other sailors to Death. The ship speeds away and each sailor curses the Mariner with his eye, then drops down dead, their souls flying from their bodies, the sound reminiscent of the Mariner’s cross-bow. The breadth of human suffering and the overwhelming vastness of nature can be detected in these lines where the Mariner is, “Alone, alone, all, all alone,/Alone on a wide wide sea!” (Coleridge, 1991, lines 232-233, p. 179) and “a thousand thousand slimy things/Lived on; and so did I” (Coleridge, 1991, lines 238-239, p. 179) surrounded by the dead men lying upon the deck.

The Mariner drifts upon the ocean, unable to pray. By the light of the moon one night he notices some water-snakes playing in the ship’s shadow and blesses them for the joy they bring. The spell breaks and he is able to pray, the Albatross falling off him into the sea. He is now able to sleep and when he awakes it is to rain, roaring wind and lightening. The dead sailors suddenly rise up and, without speaking to him, commence sailing the ship. They sing an angel’s song and once they reach the equator the ship suddenly jerks, rendering the Mariner unconscious. He hears two voices discussing his fate, which is to continue being punished for killing the Albatross, who “loved the bird that loved the man/Who shot him with his bow” (Coleridge, 1991, lines 404-405, p. 183).

The ship drives northward faster than humanly possible. On awakening the Mariner sees the dead men standing together cursing him again and he realises he is to be haunted by them forever. The breeze drives the ship onwards and the Mariner joyously beholds his native country. The sailors fall down dead once again and a seraph-man stands over every corpse, their bright lights guiding the ship to shore. The Mariner is overjoyed to see the Pilot and his boy and a Hermit rowing towards him. The Hermit demonstrates both prayer and living in harmony with nature; “He’ll shrieve my soul, he’ll wash away/The Albatross’s blood” (Coleridge, 1991, lines 512-513, p. 186).

As the boat approaches the ship, it suddenly sinks like lead. The Mariner is plucked from the water and into the Pilot’s boat even though they believe him dead. He unexpectedly revives, causing the Pilot and his boy to lose their minds and the Hermit to pray. The Hermit asks him what manner of man he is and the Mariner relates his tale from beginning to end after which he feels normal again. He realises that this is his fate; destined to wander from country to country, instinct telling him whom to tell his tale and therefore temporary relieve his burning agony. He tells the Wedding Guest; “He prayeth well, who loveth well/Both man and bird and beast” (Coleridge, 1991, lines 612-613, p. 189) meaning that by revering nature you become closer to God. The Mariner then vanishes and the Wedding Guest walks home, stunned, rising the next morn, “A sadder and a wiser man” (Coleridge, 1991, line 624, p. 189).

The Romantic notion of connecting with and submitting to nature was a very personal, introspective and individual response. As Ruskin (n.d.) states; “Nature will show you nothing if you set yourself up for her master. But forget yourself, and try to obey her, and you will find obedience easier and happier than you think” (para. 62). In similar fashion to The Ancient Mariner, Domett’s Ranolf and Amohia explores the sublime power of nature during a shipwreck when man is battling waves; “The wild white whirl of waters flew,/In stunning vollies overswept/And beat the black Ship’s yielding frame..Still on-still on- like fiends of Hell” (quoted in McQueen, 1993, p. 42). This maelstrom occurs “while the Sun onlooking gay/Triumphant trod his bright highway” (quoted in McQueen, 1993, p. 42), nature triumphing over humanity.

New Zealand’s grand, imposing, and potentially threatening landscapes are an example of nature’s sublime. This can be where man is depicted as inconsequential and feeble in the face of nature’s manifestations. These include a sense of vastness, ruggedness, darkness and gloom. A haphazard and chaotic manner can produce such feelings as terror, awe, passion and incomprehension. The spectacular Pink and White Terraces with their boiling pools, vents and ceaseless thermal activity were certainly picturesque but also made sublime by their sheer size and the fact that the very nature that created them destroyed them in a catastrophic and violent volcanic eruption. Domett describes them in Ranolf and Amohia as “Silicious slabs of spar flood borne,/Like cakes of ice when Spring is young,/Burst up by freshets wild, are flung:/And slow they pick their cautious way/By liquid beds of creamy clay,/Where large white nipples rise and sink” (Domett, 1872, p. 277).

New Zealand paintings seem to exemplify vastness and solitude, emptiness and silence, a colonising view where Māori has been conveniently edited out. Though not necessarily a conscious intention, this could be seen as a reflection of the colonization process in New Zealand. In keeping with the Romantic tradition, Gully’s landscapes show little sign of human presence. Where there are people, the grandeur and scale of the landscape completely overshadows them. Gully’s mountains “do not subjugate or terrify” but rather “greet one as a friend” (McLean, 2001, p. 55). This can be seen in his The Chimney, Milford Sound, an 1878 watercolour on paper measuring 36.2 x 54cm. A sailboat on a stormy lake is dwarfed against a background of mountains swathed in cloud. The mountains appear benign, the sublime induced by the minute size of the boat and the fact it is fighting choppy waters. Calm water is beautiful and broken water picturesque whilst stormy water such as described here is sublime. Gully’s work is; “realistic in that it is a faithful portrayal of a given scene or scenes, but warm and living as if it possesses a soul of its own” (McLean, 2001, p. 61).

Solitary wanderers are habitually far away and indistinct, in harmony with and held captive by their natural surroundings, the emotional intensity, vastness and power of nature conveyed through the visionary quality of art. Romantic’s such as George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) sought solitude in nature, even travelling vast distances in order to find it. This melancholic solitude could be found in natural places such as fields, woods, mountains and oceans. The solitary figure can be found in Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (c.1818) by Friedrich. Here the composition is dominated by the back view of a solitary figure positioned in the foreground, looking out over vast, mountainous peaks shrouded in a sea of grey and white fog. The elements in the painting seem to converge on the ‘wanderer’ as he contemplates nature’s power in the sublime vista.

Chile Harold’s Pilgrimage III (published 1816) effectively tells the story of Byron’s solitary passage, physical and spiritual, across Belgium, down the Rhine, and into Switzerland. Byron merges the romantic and poetic travelogue, topographical poem and autobiographical confession. The wandering minstrel, the poet-narrator, emerges as the ‘Byronic hero’. Chile Harold is a rebellion against society and a celebration of the romantic genius with allusion to personal torment. Childe Harold imparts “the sense that the individual sensibility is in a passionate relationship with the landscape” (Open University, 2005, Block 6, p. 235) and asks, “Are not the mountains, waves, and skies, a part/Of me and of my soul, and I of them?” (Lavin & Donnachie, 2004, Stanza 75, pp. 287). The poem echoes the autobiographical journey of Rousseau as he introspectively searches for meaning and validation in his Confessions (published 1782). The world-weary wander, disillusioned with a life of self-gratification and carousing, seeking inner fulfilment in foreign lands and isolation and solace in nature is reflected in the lines describing the “loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow;” (Lavin & Donnachie, 2004, Stanza 45, pp. 275) and in Stanza 5 with its, “lone caves, yet rife/With airy images, and shapes which dwell/Still unimpair’d, though old, in the soul’s haunted cell.” (quoted in Lavin & Donnachie, 2004, Stanza 5, lines 43-45, p. 262).

The lone traveller may convey an intense isolation as they contemplate the uninhabited landscape before them, usually from an elevated position. The recollections of a solitary wandering can be found in Wordsworth’s poem I wandered lonely as a cloud (1804) which consists of four, six line stanzas in an ABABCC rhyme scheme:  “I wandered lonely as a cloud/That floats on high o’er vales and hills.” When he later recalls the daffodils he encountered on his wanderings he states; “They flash upon that inward eye/Which is the bliss of solitude” (quoted in Appelbaum, 1996, pp. 43-44).

Many natural landscapes sought by the Romantics included elements such as expansive skies, forests, ruins, mountains shrouded in fog and mist, and moss-covered churches or castles. As New Zealand did not have the historical ruins so prevalent in Europe, the author believes that, unwittingly, Antipodean artists sought them in their records of the ruin of native forests, perhaps giving these subjects the air of the sublime. This can be seen in Alfred Sharpe’s (1836-1908) watercolour measuring 63.5 x 43.2cm: A jam in the lava cleft, Hay’s Creek, Papakura (1879). Three Kauri logs are stranded in a river during their passage from high country forest to sawmill. Man’s calculated destruction and dominance over New Zealand’s virgin forests runs in complete contrast to the terrifying aspects of natures dominance over man explored within the Ancient Mariner.

What is important is that New Zealand’s romantic artists left a view of what our native forests were before they were so decimated by European settlement with its need for farmland and townships. Many paintings record this battle between settler man and nature; there is no mystic communion here, just a record of the slaughter of the forest which the paintings bear witness to. There is a sense of loss, of grief as we view the clear-cut fields, the stumps and introduced species of flora and fauna. Is this view of the ruination of nature intended to be a parallel with the same sense of sublime that European artists obtain with their moss covered ruins? This author believes so.

To be a Romantic was to have a heightened sensitivity to and be fascinated by the mystical power, freedom and rawness of nature surrounding oneself. At age 28 Wordsworth wrote a poem that vividly illustrates this mystic communion with nature, the landscape poem Lines written above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798, one of the Lyrical Ballads (1798) produced with his friend Coleridge. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy spent four days on a rambling walk which took in the Welsh abbey of Tintern founded in 1131. The poem is testament to Wordsworth’s immersion in nature, the simplicity of language and style reinforcing “his conviction of the interdependence of man and nature” (Brett & Jones, 1991, p. xxx).

Both Byron and Wordsworth both took sustenance from nature as reflected in their work which reflects a deeper communion. As the Open University (2005) explains; “Those who sought solace in nature nevertheless agreed that its external appearances masked something much deeper and incomprehensible to the human mind, and that the individual was part of nature and partook of the mysterious entity underlying it” (block 7, p. 121). This is illustrated in lines 1 to 23 of Tintern Abbey Wordsworth describes how he can “connect” to “The landscape with the quiet of the sky.” Lines 59 to 112 explain how he can see that nature is “The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse/The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul/Of all my moral being” (Brett & Jones, 1991, p. 115-16).

This elevation of nature to a religious connection can also be observed in Friedrich’s paintings which have a melancholic feeling, often coupled with religious themes directly relating to the beauty of nature. The Romantics came to regard nature as an independent force, a “source of power, wisdom and knowledge in its own right” (Open University, 2005, Block 7, p.119). This benevolent nature of mystic communion is in direct contrast with the Ancient Mariner where Coleridge makes it clear his notion that the spiritual world controls and uses the natural world. For Coleridge, “all natural phenomena were symbols of Deity and functioned ambiguously – now benignly, now malignly – as instruments of punishment and salvation” (Coburn, 1967, p. 66).

Reverence for nature did become a form of religion for some Romantics. As Rousseau writes in his Confessions; (1782) “It’s contrasting features, the richness and variety of its landscape, the magnificence and majesty of the whole, which charms the senses, moves the heart, and elevates the soul” (Rousseau, quoted in Lavin & Donnachie, 2004, p. 337). It is interesting how the Romantics intense view of nature is comparable to a sensory religious encounter, the experience being one of looking for the Christian God within oneself, rather than in organised religion with its intellectual and moralising judgements. As Wordsworth writes in A Guide Through the District of the Lakes “the heavens are not only brought down into the bosom of the earth, but that the earth is mainly looked at, and thought of, through the medium of a purer element” (quoted in Lavin & Donnachie, 2004, p.98).

The wild places of New Zealand seemed to reflect the perception of God as the all-powerful creator. Alfred Sharpe whose painting, A jam in the lava cleft, Hay’s Creek, Papakura we have already encountered, was a trained architect who arrived from England in 1859. He was also a deaf mute who left New Zealand for Australia in 1887. Below is one of fifty poems Sharpe published in Auckland newspapers between 1878 and 1882:

And then, within that deep, primeval forest,
I stood all dumb and still
While of the grand and solemn beauty round me
My soul drank in its fill
I could not even to a word give voicing
E'en if I had the will.
For there are solemn temples, where the voicing’s
Of lips are seldom heard
And where, amid the mighty works of Nature,
The heart alone is stirred;
And though it quivereth with its thronging feelings
It utters not a word
(quoted in Blackley, 1977, para. 5)

Sharpe’s poem reflects the religion to be found in nature as his soul drinks its fill. He compares the ‘solemn temples’ to the ‘mighty works of Nature’ where his ‘heart alone is stirred’. This sense of divine inspiration from nature and a mystic spirituality permeates the work of the Romantic poets and artists. As Brown (2001) explains “Artists now approached nature with something of the same reverence that had formerly been reserved for God, and the experience of the natural world became a form of worship” (p. 131). There was a rejection of man-made temples and a reversion to worship of God in natural surroundings where the contemplation of nature paralleled the contemplation of God.

The fantastical view of nature is illustrated by The Ancient Mariner which takes place in the natural world but with a connection to the spiritual, metaphysical world. Perhaps the Mariner shot the Albatross to prove that it is not indeed a spirit but made of flesh and blood. But the Albatross itself, being part of nature, is intimately tied to the spirit world which sets out to punish the Mariner, firstly through the natural elements, and then through the dead sailors. Nature’s drought may symbolise the Mariner’s spiritual bleakness, the rain his rebirth, the sun acting as avenger and the moon a symbol of rejuvenation. It is finally the Mariner’s blessing of the water snakes that allows him to pray, reinforcing that the poem is both fantastical and religious. For Coleridge the relationship between man and nature was not always pleasurable. Both Coleridge and Wordsworth believed in the restorative power of nature, but Coleridge was much more a traditional Christian in his beliefs.

Friedrich’s work is also visionary and imaginative. He chose elements from nature to depict metaphysically way beyond what can be grasped by the senses. Along with the natural landscape, the imagined landscape can be seen in his Winter Landscape with Church measuring 32.5 x 45cm and painted in oils in 1811. The spires of a Gothic cathedral situated in the background rise up against the murky winter sky, looking otherworldly due to its base being shrouded in mist. It depicts a small and almost insignificant figure in the foreground positioned on the snowy ground leaning back against a boulder. This solitary individual has apparently abandoned his crutches and his hands are clasped in prayer.  He gazes upwards at a crucifix that is positioned among a cluster of fir trees which seem to echo the spires of a Gothic cathedral situated in the background. This rises up against the murky winter sky and looks almost otherworldly due to its base being shrouded in mist. The wintery landscape is coldly barren with blades of grass poking up through the snow. It is unclear from the composition of the picture if the traveller will retrieve his crutches (if in fact he still needs them after his prayers) and resume his journal on to the cathedral or if the abandoning of his crutches signifies that he has found what his is looking for in nature.

Sharpe so esteemed the New Zealand Pohutukawa Tree that he composed poems about it and, when he moved to Australia, even imported it. This admiration can also been seen in his Pohutukawa Tree, an 1876 watercolour on paper measuring 44.8 x 61.9cm. It is painted in painstaking detail with the tree dominating the foreground and the landscape behind, without a great deal of middle ground. The tree with its twisted trunks is an excellent example of his reverence for and celebration of nature. This central placing of a tree can also been seen in Friedrich’s slightly larger The Lone Tree, an 1822 oil on canvas measuring 55 x 71cm in which a giant oak dominates, its huge size reinforced by the minute shepherd who leans against its trunk whilst watching his flock.

It seems fitting that when Gully died in 1888 it was the end of the romantic era in New Zealand, seeing the arrival of professional painters such as Petrus van der Velden (1837-1913), James McLauchlan Nairn (1859-1904) and Girolamo Pieri Nerli (1860-1926). Along with their new theories (such as impressionism), techniques and styles and the rise of the photographic record of the New Zealand’s landscape a new era arrived.

This essay has investigated the evidence to support “a growing appreciation of both the dynamism and restorative powers of nature and of its intimate connection with human thought, morality and feelings” (Open University, 2005, Block 1, p. 60) in the work of both European and latterly Antipodean writers and artists. It has examined whether nature is something for humans to control and exploit or submit to, whether nature is something ordered or regulated or wild and beyond human comprehension. The changing view of God has been investigated, a view of the ‘oneness’ with the divine purpose of nature rather than the traditional all powerful God of organized religion. This essay has found ample evidence that the opening statement is a justifiable summary of one of the cultural shifts from Enlightenment to Romanticism.



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Wolf, N. (1999). Painting of the romantic era. Koln, Germany: Taschen.

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Romanticism and the power of nature (2010) by Debbie McCauley

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
Romanticism and the power of nature (2010) by Debbie McCauley by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga City Libraries) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License