In his poem The Tables Turned, William Wordsworth wrote the following lines: “One impulse from a vernal wood/May teach you more of man, /Of moral evil and of good, /Than all the sages can.” Like Wordsworth, John Constable saw more in the natural world than any book learning could provide. In his chapter on Constable in his The Romantic Rebellion, Kenneth Clark distinguished between two different aspects of the goddess Nature: “Byronic” which he identified with the fierce and vengeful side of the natural world; secondly, the tranquil mood of the countryside was thought to be “Wordsworthian.” Clearly Turner with his avalanches, snowstorms, and angry seas would fall into the first “Byronic” category; Constable however with the serenity of his mills, ponds and vales would fit the “Wordsworthian” type. While Turner (who was one year older) became an associate of the R.A., Constable made mediocre copies of Reynolds, and Turner became a Royal Academician before Constable had painted any picture of note. Unlike Turner who went to nature for the sublime terror to be found in its territories, Constable went to rural life because – like Wordsworth, he divined moral and spiritual qualities in the fields, hedgerows and streams. It was the quiet, contemplative vision of nature that Constable sought, and if romanticism can be identified with a feeling of being one with nature then Constable was a romantic painter. What Constable occasionally shares with the mainstream romantic artists is a sense of melancholy which is clearly present in his The Cenotaph (above) which is a picture of a monument erected to Sir Joshua Reynolds by Sir George Beaumont in his park. It is flanked by busts of Michelangelo and Raphael.
 Kenneth Clark, The Romantic Rebellion: Romantic verses Classic Art (John Murray, 1975), 265.
In addition to being one of the greatest romantic painters of the era, Turner also tried his hand at poetry as in the pessimistic “Fallacies of Hope” which accompanied the showing of such apocalyptic canvases as Snow Storm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps (1812) and the deeply gloomy Slavers throwing Slaves Overboard which was printed in the catalogue with another extract from “The Fallacies of Hope.” Though the poem was never finished, excerpts from it would attend the exhibition of many of Turner’s subsequent paintings. One of Turner’s favourite poets was Byron because he may have identified with the poet’s persona of isolation, aesthetic contemplation and the romantic ideal in general. Turner may have heard Byron make an impassioned speech against the laws calling for the death penalty for frame breakers in the House of Lords in 1812, coinciding with the publication of the first two cantos of Childe Harold which was to inspire an Italianate painting from the poem in the 1830s (above). Later Turner illustrated volumes of poetry during the 1820s and 1830s like the highly successful new edition of Samuel Roger’s Italy (1830). Though a meeting between Turner and Byron in these literary circles is probably apocryphal, the artist’s watercolours for this project suggest that Turner was viewing Byron and Roger’s views of Venice through the lens of his own visit to the city in 1819. Actual words in Rogers Italy may have inspired last week’s Juliet and her Nurse which was stoutly defended by John Ruskin. Like Turner, Ruskin shared a love of Byron, Shakespeare and the romantic literary tradition. As Ruskin noted, “Byron was to be his master in verse, as Turner in colour.”
 “The returning sun/Exhaled earth’s humid bubbles, and emulous of light/ Reflected her lost forms, each in prismatic guise/Hope’s harbinger, ephemeral as the summer fly/Which rises, flits, expires and dies.”
 Jack Lindsay, Turner: His Life and Work (Panther, 1966), 181.
Apart from the cult of anglomania amongst the dandies in nineteenth-century France there was a love of “Caledonia,” Scotland, home of the bogus lays of Ossian and the historical novels of Sir Walter Scott. And in addition to France, the Ossian legend was popular with artists and writers in Northern European countries like Germany and Scandinavia. The jagged, picturesque mountains described in Ossian influenced painters like the German Catel who conjured up a suitably inhospitable, calamitous night and sea scene for a painting based on the end of Chateaubriand’s novel, René. For writers like Mme de Stael, her Oswald in Corinne (1808) is a cross between Byron and Ossian, a Scottish aristocrat weighed down with the sorrows of life in contrast to the Italianate lightness of the eponymous heroine. De Stael’s Corinne was written with an educated, genteel audience in mind, but Walter Scott’s novels blew like a force of nature through all social classes in the nineteenth-century. In France, Scott mania began in 1820, reached its climax in the 1830s, declining in the 1850s, only to be resuscitated by Hollywood in our own time. Apart from the pageant and drama in such novels as Rob Roy (1817), The Bride of Lammermoor (1819) Ivanhoe (1820), and Quentin Durward,(1823) Scott gave artists the opportunity to show some Scottish local colour. The attraction of painting kilted chieftains and heroes like Rob Roy amidst mountain and glen was irresistible to some artists which resulted in a heavily romanticised view of Scottish culture and history ranging from more narrative pictures like Roqueplan’s The Death of the Spy Morris (Rob Roy) (above)to Vernet’s military portrait of Allan M’Aulay (A Legend of Montrose). Delacroix painted himself as Ravenswood (The Bride of Lammermoor) at the start of his career, though some scholars believe it is an example of the painter conflating several literary identities, Ravenswood and Hamlet, and maybe even a touch of Byron’s Childe Harold. Other writers like Victor Hugo and Alfred de Vigny were not only writers but amateur artists and keen collectors of old masters. Famously Delacroix was called the “Victor Hugo of painting,” crude labelling that was met with the glacial response “Je suis un pur classique.”
 See Joannides, “Delacroix and Modern Literature” in the Cambridge Guide to Delacroix, 2001, 130.
In the age of Romanticism, authors of past time were not entirely expunged from French painting as can be seen in Ingres’s grandiose Apotheosis of Homer, though Shakespeare (bottom left) would find himself eliminated from Homer’s company because he was adopted by the romantics. Dante who stands just below Raphael remained, probably because Ingres could not bear to part with a poet who was embraced by both romantic and classical factions in art. Dante attracted artists as far apart in temperament as Blake and Delacroix, and in the middle journeymen like Ary Scheffer. One of the most recurring Dantean subjects was the ill-fated lovers Paolo and Francesca, more favoured by Ingres and his epigones such as Ary Scheffer (above) while Delacroix painted Dante and Virgil crossing the Styx. Hell seems to have been the favoured site for painters of the Divine Comedy as with Blake’s last watercolours which have a prismatic freshness about them which belies the idea that Blake despised colour in art. As for Shakespeare, initially, as with Fuseli’s grotesque concoctions of the late-eighteenth century, it was the superstitious side of Shakespeare- ghosts and graveyards- which beckoned the romantics; but later with the frequent staging of his plays in France, Shakespeare was seen more as a repository of imaginative themes, especially the major plays like Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello which would fuel the imagination of artists throughout Europe who were attracted because of the infinite variety of Shakespeare’s thought. Shakespeare would also chime with the anglophilia of some French writers and painters who would view Shakespeare as the essence of the English character, most memorably described by Delacroix in his Journal: “The English are all Shakespeare- he virtually made then everything they are.” 
A New Laocoön: Literature and Romantic Art in France.
We cannot do better at introducing this section than to refer to a note by Theophile Gautier who spoke of a “brotherhood” of painting and poetry. “At that time, poetry and painting formed a brotherhood. Artists read poetry and poets frequented artists. Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe, Byron and Scott were to be found as much in the studio as in the study.” These authors would constitute the “Big Five” for literary-inclined painters, but artists also drew on themes taken from other writers like Chateaubriand, Victor Hugo, Lamartine, to name a few. Wakefield sees the origins of associations between painting and literature in France in the journalism of the late-eighteenth-century, publically- minded writers like Diderot who was known to many painters, though there was still some condescension from writers who were traditionally in a more “privileged social position over painters” and therefore tended to see visual artists as mere artisans. The dominance of literature over painting would prevail into the nineteenth-century though artists like Delacroix aware of literature’s ascendancy, would fight to “emancipate painting” from its stranglehold. On this subject Delacroix was much influenced by Mme de Stael who had urged painters to limit themselves to colour and form rather than trying to create the equivalent of narrative or poetry in their painting; this, along with Lessing’s Laocoön represented a pulling away from the ut pictura poesis formula towards literature as an element of painting rather than a substitute for it. Some artists like the German Cartel failed to heed these cries for change and resolved to produce the equivalent of romantic literature, like a narrative scene from the end of Chateaubriand's novel Rene (above)
One theme in literary Romanticism is the striving towards an infinite goal; the most salient example of this in the age of Romanticism is Goethe’s drama Faust. The leading character of the drama, the scholar Faust, represents the journey of the prodigal son who eventually grows homesick, pines for some kind of fulfilment, and finds it by making his way back home. At the end of the second part of Faust, he will be spiritually re-born and thus negate qualities brought into the world by Mephistopheles such as sin, destruction, in short evil. Theorists of romantic literature like Madame Stael and Stendhal began to discern in German writing a depth and inner feeling that was completely at odds with the outward display of vigorous heroism in Homer and the Greeks that the French classicists favoured. Instead of the firm resolution of the classical world guided by the Olympian deities there was the modern “restless striving for immortality and infinity” in the face of philosophical uncertainty and existentialist crisis; this would clear the decks for the entrance of personages representing the romantic agony such as Goethe’s Werther and Faust.
But could there be an equivalent to this in the realm of painting? If so, on what level might it be conceived? Certainly not on the plane of theology, philosophy, or metaphysics; but one might draw parallels between Faust’s predicament and the struggle for the artist to realise themselves through their art. From the seventeenth-century onwards, there was a concept known as the perfection of painting in which the artist used their knowledge and physical capabilities and mental resources to seek out the ideal in art. Clearly, wether they succeeded depended on the artist which becomes evident as we scan the range of painters who drew on Faust for their subject matter. Goethe believed this himself, and he quickly recognised how Delacroix with his imaginative power was more suited to interpreting Faust (above) than other artists like Henry Fuseli or Ary Scheffer, or even illustrators in his own country. To Goethe, Delacroix had surpassed even his own imagination when interpreting this masterwork.
 The best discussion of this romanticist scheme is in M.H. Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature, (Norton, 1973).
 Goethe, Letter to Eckermann (29th November 1826), reproduced in Goethe on Art, (ed) John Gage, (Scolar Press, 1980), 239: “Undoubtedly, for the more perfect imagination of an artist like this obliges us to conceive the situations as well as he conceived them himself. And I must confess that M. Delacroix has surpassed my own conceptions in these scenes: how much more will the reader find them vivid beyond the imagination!”
From Ut Pictura Poesis to the Painted Poem in the Age of Romanticism.
The practice of linking visual art and literature has its origins in Horace’s term which means “as is painting, so is poetry.”
“Poetry resembles painting. Some works will captivate you when you stand very close to them and others if you are at a greater distance. This one prefers a darker vantage point that one wants to be seen in the light since it feels no terror before the penetrating judgment of the critic. This pleases only once, that will give pleasure even if we go back to it ten times over.”
This famous saying meant that the same attention paid to poetry should also be devoted to literature. Note the emphasis on distance and proximity; this concept was bound up with the relationship of the viewer and the work of art. The “ut pictura poesis” idea was further developed in the eighteenth-century by the German theorist Gottfried Lessing in his essay “Laocoön: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry” (1766). Lessing drew on another ancient writer Simonides, who wrote "poema pictura locguens, pictura poema silens" (poetry is a speaking picture, painting a silent [mute]. Lessing is also significant to Romanticism since he turned against French neo-classicism and encouraged his fellow countrymen, to read the English poets and Shakespeare as well as German authors like Goethe (above) and Schiller.