Religion and Spirituality
Science and Technology
Art, Literature and Music
Daily Life
Key Personalities

Painting, Sculpture and the Graphic Arts

The movement of Neoclassicism in the graphic arts, which sought to recapture the ideals and aesthetics of ancient Greece, emerged in France as a reaction against the Baroque and rococo styles of art. Neoclassic artists included Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Hubert Robert, and Jacques-Louis David (pictured at left). In addition, Georgian architecture borrowed elements from the Greco-Roman period, such as its Corinthian columns and stately friezes. The Romantic movement emerged in reaction to the orderly and balanced neoclassic style and paralleled the trends in literature. Romantic paintings were characterized by dramatic scenes captured in brilliant colors, and were popularized by such artists as Eugene Delacroix, Theodore Gericault and Joseph Turner. In addition, many portraitists gained widespread fame in capturing the well-to-do of society on canvas. Sir Joshua Reynolds was one of the most renowned portraitists of the 18th century, along with his rivals Thomas Gainsborough and George Romney.

Literature and Poetry

The Georgian period flourished with poetry and literature from authors such as William Blake, Robert Burns and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The Gothic novel, which was characterized by supernatural horrors and violent events and often set in medieval times, became popular during the era. At the same time, the blossoming Romantic movement in literature and poetry emphasized intense emotions, sensual imagery and individualism, and often featured sensational plots. Finally, the German Sturm and Drang movement popularized by Johann Wolfgang Goethe's early works produced literature marked by dramatic story lines and turbulent emotions, centered around the common theme of an individual's revolt against society.


Britain in the Georgian era witnessed a period of unprecedented prosperity. This was chiefly the result of a comparatively stable democratic Government and a flourishing international trade with a growing number of colonies supported by trusted financial institutions. Consequently, many industrious and successful merchants, traders, craftsmen and professionals (the new 'middle' class) found they had the time and money to visit opera houses, music clubs or, in London, one of the pleasure-gardens such as Vauxhall or Ranelagh to hear the latest concertos and songs. Thus England become the vibrant musical centre of Europe to which, not surprisingly, a great wave of continental musicians emigrated to seek fame and fortune. Amongst these of course was the great George Frederick Handel. Although Handel dominated the opera house and the world of the oratorio, however, it fell to others to provide the majority of the music in the theatre, the church and chamber music in the home.

In America, many of the songs of the Colonial and Revolutionary War period originated in England, Scotland and Ireland as people from those countries immigrated to America. The early pioneers of the period enjoyed country dances, marches, dances, airs and minuets. Popular music at that time was seldom composed for a specific instrument. Musicians used any instrument at their disposal, a practice borne of convenience and necessity. Music of this era employed the harpsichord, the violin, the fiddle, the hammered dulcimer, the tabor pipe and drum and the recorder.