Painting artists use different artistic styles and colors to portray the impression of their drawings. The painting of The Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Gericault, a French painter emotionally portrays the survival and hardships experiences of the passengers in a raft, who survived the sinking of the French ship, La Medusa. The Gulf Stream painting by the American artist, Winslow Homer, depicts a man struggling amidst strong waves of the sea in a small fishing boat. This essay is going to compare and contrast the two paintings: The Raft of the Medusa and The Gulf Stream in relation to romanticism and impressionism ages.


The similarity of the two paintings literally depicts people struggling for their lives amidst strong waves in the sea. In The Raft of the Medusa, the passengers who had survived the sinking of their ship are crowded on the raft. After the sinking of their ship, many people sunk and died leaving only few people as survivors.

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The survivors endured severed hardships of starvation and cannibalism for thirteen days in the Atlantic sea before the rescue. In comparison, The Gulf Stream painting shows a man on a small fishing boat in the sea full of hurricane waves as he struggle helplessly awaiting rescue. Both this paintings shows an element of romanticism because they elicit emotional response in the viewers.


The Raft of the Medusa is a romantic art due to its emotional depiction. The painting portrays the tragic accident in the sea according to the perception of the artist. The artistic freedom of imagination and fantasy of the tragic accident shows romanticism. In romanticism, the artist has freedom to paint adventurous and fantastic events to depict emotions.

The artist uses dull and dark colors like browns, black and deep red to depict the solemn scene of accident. To avoid distraction of the viewers to specific details, the artist used short brush strokes together with the light and shades to portray clearly the figures in the entire painting. The Raft of the Medusa portrays the ideals of the romanticism and this has made it be considered as a romantic icon.


Although The Gulf Steam portrays the elements of the romantic art, its painting styles is based on the impressionistic art.

Impressionistic art focuses on creating an impression by use of bright water paints on specific objects. The Gulf Steam ignores other background information but focuses on the man in the small boat and the sea waves. Impression arts are characterized by the use of bright paint strokes and the light reflection of the watercolors. Impressionists seek to attract the attention of the viewer to the subject rather than to the details. The Gulf Steam is an impressionistic art because of the use of bright watercolors and the impression focuses only on one subject.


Artists can use romanticism and impressionism in the depiction of their drawing depending on the impact they want to pass onto the viewers. Romanticism entails emotional depiction of the details in tragic events like The Raft of the Medusa while impressionism involves focusing of the main subject of the painting and neglecting the background information as in The Gulf Steam. Although impressionism and romanticism differ, both are necessary in a painting to give the desired and vivid impression to the viewers.


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