Art Throughout Time: Reflections on Artists, Movements, and Time

The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

Some say art imitates life; others say life imitates art. I find that both of these observations are equally true. It is intrigued to see how different movements precede each other and imitate each other. It is also interesting to see how politics and economics affect artistic movements. I feel the Rococo, Romantic, and Neoclassicism, and Impressionist styles of art are good examples of how art imitates life and life imitates art, and I find the artist and artwork from these time periods to be truly interesting and inspiring.

I really like the Rococo style of art and I feel like I use this style in my own art sometimes. Rococo was started in France in the 18th century and was mainly a type of interior design that was “elegant” and used “small sculpture, ornamental mirrors, easel paintings, and tapestries”; this style deals with fine details, “muted colors, and feathery brushstrokes” (Gardner, 2001, p.1908). The art that came out of this time period is playful, flirtatious, happy, and based on love and attraction.

I was enamored with Jean- Honore Fragonard’s painting “The Swing” is a lovely depiction of this style. The light colors of the girls dress opposing the dark colors of the background is a lovely contrast that shows focus and depth. The light on the trees, the girl, and the man shows movement and foreground, and the darkness and shadows in the back ground shows depth well. I also like the use of pale pinks in the front and deep blues in the background helped make this picture very strong.

Another one of my favorite art movements is Romanticism. This type of art flourished from “1800–1840”, and it was inspired by the “dark ages” where “barbarianism, superstition,” “gothick, sublime”, and “miracles” (Gardner, 2001. p.864). This movement was based on the idea that all that was artificial and false should be banned and honest emotion should prevail. Imagination and emotion was revered over reasoning and rules in this art movement. It is interesting to note that Neoclassicism was happening before Romanticism, and it was a type of art based on rules and modeled after art from the Renaissance. It is intriguing to see the pattern of art based on reason to lead to a movement based on imagination.

William Blake was an artist of the Romantic Movement that was appealing to me. He was said to be “inspired by dreams”, and his engraving titled “Ancient of Days” is beautiful and inspiring (Gardener, 2001, p.865). The dramatic use of light and dark in the contrast of the bright yellows and orange of the sky and sun opposed to the dark brown and black of the background and landscape worked very well and added strong emotion to the piece. I also enjoyed the linear aspects of the light and stance of the figure. This piece embodied the Romantic style with its use of emotion and creativity.

Impressionism is another aspect of art history that I enjoy. I was slightly knowledgeable of this movement before reading this book, but this book has brought me closer to understanding this movement and has given me greater respect for Impressionism. Interestingly Impressionism started as an insult to the now famous painter Claude Monet. (Gardener, 2001, p. 1016). Before this movement was started impression referred to sketches that were quick, spontaneous, and one single thought or moment. During this time France was in the middle of becoming industrialized and was “brutal, chaotic” and becoming urbanized so this type of art was actually reflective of the times.

Monet’s “Impression; Sunrise” is a beautiful piece that deliberately leaves brushstrokes in the painting, and impressionists conclude that “local color- an objects actual color is usually modified by the quality of light in which it is seen, reflections from other objects, and effects of juxtaposed colors produce”; they also believe that “shadows do not appear gray or black” (Gardner, 2001, p.905).

Impressionism is much more in depth than I believed before, and I appreciate the studies of color and light that is done with Impressionism. Many impressionists seem to be influenced by painting in outdoor settings, and I find this to be an interesting concept that probably had to do with the economic situation of artist during this time.

Art is an age old practice that has changed and grown extensively throughout the years. It is amazing to notice how art affects life and life affects art. I find that art is an amazing reflection of life, and art and its creators should be studied through out time.


Kleiner, F.S., Mamiya, C.J. (2001). Gardener’s art through the ages. Orlando, FL: Harcourt College Publishers.



Sarah Ganly is an artist, entrepreneur, and lover of life. She is a lifelong learner dedicated to making people smile.

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Sarah Ganly

Sarah Ganly is an artist, entrepreneur, and lover of life. She is a lifelong learner dedicated to making people smile.