OPENING 4 September at 11 am


Saturday 4 Sept:  11am- 2 pm

Sunday 5 Sept: 11 am - 2 pm

Saturday 25 Sept: 11am - 2 pm

RSVP here to book

Gothic Romantic.jpg

Gothic Romantic


Theoretically Gothicism has been persistently related to Romanticism.

Although we tend not to label works with terms belonging to previous centuries so much any longer, the ingredients of Gothic Romantic persist in appearing in many contemporary artists’ work. In most of the works on this Gothic Romantic exhibition, the Romantic link with nature is clearly visible as well as an engagement with the sublime due to mystery, secrecy, wonder, enchantment or loss. Also, the earth, trees, flowers, water and sky emotively represent mortality and cycle.


In Romanticism, landscape painting is often immersed in notions of the sublime: an aesthetic sense of greatness and vastness of nature that creates a feeling of amazement, fear or terror in the viewer. Nature can be Romantically transcendent, incomprehensible, mysterious and obscure – such as experiencing a heavy thunderstorm or typhoon for instance – or it can be something that induces terror, a prime element of the Gothic.


The sublime sits both within Romanticism and the Gothic, depending on how it's used and how an individual experiences it. The Gothic may be viewed as a part, a subset or a variety of Romanticism. Gothic literature as genre from the late 1700s is a form of Dark Romanticism and more strongly characterised by expressions of (and enchantment with) terror, gruesome narratives, violence, the grotesque, supernatural elements, fear of the Other and dark, picturesque scenery. This fascinating and transgressive connection has been persisting into the third millennium. To an extent the Gothic is related to dystopia, being a style in fictional literature characterised by decay, degeneration and decadence. Destruction and enchantment with ruin is the leading concept here. In a commercial sense today the Gothic Romantic is often seen in sci-fi films, literature and distressed furniture or interiors.


Historical notes

In 'Gothic versus Romantic: A Revaluation of the Gothic Novel' (PMLA 84:2 (March 1969): 282) by Robert D. Hume, he argues that many deny this relationship altogether. Romanticism is sometimes characterised as the larger movement, of which the Gothic is a part, a subset, or variety. Other scholars see them as quite distinct, or even see the Gothic as the precursor that leads to the rise of Romanticism. Romanticism is probably the larger category in terms of number of authors and texts, and it's certainly privileged by critics as the genre with greater aesthetic value. Gothic is often seen as the more popular genre; it's also identified more typically with women, while Romanticism is identified with men. Both of these factors lead to the further marginalising of the Gothic compared to the Romantic. Romanticism emerges around 1770 and continues to 1860; it begins in Germany, spreads to England, hits France (1820s) and becomes popular in America through much of the nineteenth century. Romanticism appeared first in literature and later in music and visual arts, across all of these countries. William Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads in 1792 is often viewed as the beginning of literary romanticism. Romantics privileged the following concepts: Imagination; Intuition; Idealism; Inspiration; Individuality/genius.


Gothicism was a movement that emerged during the 12th century and was strongly characterised by monumental architecture and sculpture, as well as intense ornamentation. Initially the word 'Gothic' for art was synonymous with barbaric as its critics viewed this form of art as unrefined due to its irreverence for Classic art.  Italian artist and writer Giorgio Vasari called Gothic art a "monstrous and barbarous" "disorder". Gothic aspects of 'untamed and wild' stand directly opposed to order and harmony as characteristics of Classicism and it is here that Romanticism and Gothicism share similarities. Gothic’s primary rise in literature is considered to be 1765 (Walpole's Otranto) through 1820 (Maturin's Melmouth the Wanderer); it has primarily been studied as a British movement, but also in America and on the Continent. Many of the Gothic novels could be seen as Romances, dealing with improbable characters with strange quests. The Gothic romance was concerned with mystery and was usually set against dark backgrounds of medieval ruins and haunted castles.

In Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757), the term ‘sublime’ becomes contested as long-predating the Gothic, but the concept was very much in discussion at the time the Gothic was developing. Burke’s treatise is central to the emerging Gothic aesthetic. Burke’s central tenet was the separation of the beautiful from the sublime, which he established as incompatible categories, and, more importantly, that the sublime was caused by terror.

Read more:

 –– Elfriede Dreyer