Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists



The Modern Era

1789 - 1914

In Europe, the revolutionary transformation of the ruling systems and state structures began with a bang: In 1789 the French Revolution broke out in Paris, and its motto "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite"—Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood—took on an irrepressible force. A fundamental reorganization of society followed the French Revolution. The ideas behind the revolution were manifest in Napoleon's Code Civil, which he imposed on many European nations. The 19th century also experienced a transformation of society from another source: The Industrial Revolution established within society a poorer working class that stood in opposition to the merchant and trading middle class. The nascent United States was shaken by an embittered civil war. The economic growth that set in following that war was accompanied by the development of imperialist endeavors and its rise to the status of a Great Power.


Liberty Leading the People,
allegory of the 1830 July revolution that deposed the French monarchy,
with Marianne as the personification of liberty,
contemporary painting by Eugene Delacroix.


see also:

Between Two Revolutions

(From David to Delacroix)



The Industrial Revolution begins in Europe

CA.1750 - 1848


The most momentous change experienced by Europe in the 19th century was the Industrial Revolution. What started merely as an important technological innovation led ultimately to a huge social transformation. After the Congress of Vienna, the European powers sought a restoration of the political and social structures of the pre-Napoleonic Era. However, the Metternich System, the fundamental principle of politics in Europe, soon failed. A liberal Western Europe found itself standing opposite a conservative Central and Eastern Europe. Despite many suppressive measures, democratic movements arose throughout Europe. These culminated in the revolutions of 1848.


The 1848 Revolutions in Europe

It was from France, with the "February Revolution" of 1848, that the impetus for a liberal uprising emanated. The movement affected all of Europe, except for Great Britain and Russia.


When the "banquet campaign," a series of radical political meetings, was forbidden in February 1848, 3 street fighting broke out between the army and the opposition in the streets of Paris.

It culminated in the 5 storming of the Palais Royal and the forced abdication and flight of Louis-Philippe, the "Citizen King."

3 Barricades in the streets of Paris during the February Revolution, 1848

5 Parisian crowd storms the Palais Royale

The Second Republic was declared and a provisional government set up under 1 Alphonse de Lamartine.

The Second Republic was dominated by liberals and moderate socialists. The general right to work and universal male suffrage were proclaimed.

When he was ousted and the new conservative National Assembly closed the national workshops for the unemployed, which had only just been opened, the 4 first socialist uprising in Europe broke out in June 1848 and was brutally put down by the government which promptly established a military dictatorship.

In December 1848 the majority of French voters, hoping for security and order, elected Louis Napoleon, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, to be the new president of the republic. Within three years he had established himself as a dictator through a coup d'etat, and at the end of 1852 had himself crowned Emperor Napoleon III, Both in his policies and in his manner he consciously sought to echo his famous uncle. This attempt proved futile and failed to bring the popularity and approval that he desperately sought.

Lamartine in front of the Hotel de Ville de Paris, on the 25 February 1848,
by Felix Philippoteaux


1 Alphonse de Lamartine

4 Aftermath of a workers' riot in Paris, June 1848

Alphonse de Lamartine

French poet

born Oct. 21, 1790, Mâcon, Fr.
died Feb. 28, 1869, Paris

French poet and statesman whose lyrics in Méditations poétiques (1820) established him as one of the key figures in the Romantic movement in French literature.

Alphonse’s father, an aristocrat, was imprisoned during the culminating phase of the French Revolution known as the Reign of Terror but was fortunate enough to escape the guillotine. Alphonse was educated at the college at Belley, which was maintained by the Jesuits though they were suppressed in France at this time.

Lamartine had wanted to enter the army or the diplomatic corps, but because France was ruled by Napoleon, whom his faithful royalist parents regarded as the usurper, they would not allow him to serve. Thus he remained idle until the Bourbon monarchy was restored in 1814, when he served in Louis XVIII’s bodyguard. The following year, however, Napoleon returned from exile and attempted to rebuild his empire during the Hundred Days. Lamartine emigrated to Switzerland. After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and the Second Bourbon Restoration, he abandoned the military profession.

Attracted to literature, he wrote some tragedies in verse and a few elegies. By this time his health was not good, and he left for the spa of Aix-les-Bains, where, in October of 1816, on the shore of Lake Bourget, he met the brilliant but desperately ill Julie Charles. Early in 1812 Lamartine had fallen deeply in love with a young working girl named Antoniella. In 1815 he had learned of her death, and later he was to recast her as Graziella in his prose “anecdote” of that name. He now became passionately attached to Charles, who, because of her vast connections in Paris, was able to help him find a position. After her death in December 1817, Lamartine, who had already dedicated many strophes to her (notably “Le Lac”), devoted new verses to her memory (particularly “Le Crucifix”).

In 1820 Lamartine married Maria Ann Birch, a young Englishwoman connected by marriage to the Churchills. The same year he published his first collection of poetry, Méditations poétiques, and finally joined the diplomatic corps, as secretary to the French embassy at Naples. Méditations was immensely successful because of its new romantic tone and sincerity of feeling. It brought to French poetry a new music; the themes were at the same time intimate and religious. If the vocabulary remained that of the somewhat faded rhetoric of the preceding century, the resonance of the sentences, the power of the rhythm, and the passion for life sharply contrasted with the often-withered poetry of the 18th century. The book was so successful that Lamartine attempted to extend it two years later with his Nouvelles méditations poétiques and his Mort de Socrates, in which his preoccupation with metaphysics first became evident. Le Dernier Chant du pèlerinage d’Harold, published in 1825, revealed the charm that the English poet Lord Byron exerted over him. Lamartine was elected to the French Academy in 1829, and the following year he published the two volumes of Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, a sort of alleluia, filled with deist—and even occasionally Christian (“L’Hymne au Christ”)—enthusiasm.

That same year (1830), when Louis-Philippe acceded to the throne as constitutional monarch after the July Revolution, Lamartine abandoned his diplomatic career to enter politics. He refused to commit himself to the July Monarchy, however, and, preserving his independence, he set out to draw attention to social problems. After two unsuccessful attempts he was elected deputy in 1833. Yet he still wanted to write a poem, Les Visions, that he had been thinking about since 1821 and that he had conceived of as an “epic of the soul.” The symbolic theme was that of a fallen angel cast out of heaven for having chosen the love of a woman and condemned to successive reincarnations until the day on which he realized that he “preferred God.” Lamartine wrote the last fragment of this immense adventure first, and it appeared in 1836 as Jocelyn. It is the story of a young man who intended to take up the religious life but, instead, when cast out of the seminary by the Revolution, falls in love with a young girl; recalled to the order by his dying bishop, he renounces his love and becomes a “man of God,” a parish priest, consecrating his life to the service of his fellow men. In 1838 Lamartine published the first fragment of this vast metaphysical poem under the appropriate title La Chute d’un ange (“The Fall of an Angel”). In 1832–33 he travelled to Lebanon, Syria, and the Holy Land. He had by then definitively lost the Catholic faith he had tried to recover in 1820; a further blow was the death in Beirut, on Dec. 7, 1832, of his only remaining child, Julia. A son born in Rome in 1821 had not survived infancy.

After a collection published in 1839 under the title Recueillements poétiques (“Poetic Meditations”), Lamartine interrupted his literary endeavours to become more active as a politician. He was convinced that the social question, which he himself called “the question of the proletariat,” was the principal issue of his time; he deplored the inhumanity of the worker’s plight; he denounced the trusts and their dominant influence on governmental politics, directing against them two discourses, one in 1838, another in 1846; he held that a working-class revolution was inevitable and did not hesitate to hasten the hour, promising the authorities, in July 1847, a “revolution of scorn.” In the same year he published his Histoire des Girondins, a history of the right, or moderate, Girondin Party during and after the French Revolution, which earned him immense popularity with the left-wing parties.

After the revolution of Feb. 24, 1848, the Second Republic was proclaimed in Paris, and Lamartine became, in effect, head of the provisional government. The propertied classes, who were at first startled, pretended to accept the new circumstances, but they were unable to tolerate the fact that the working class possessed arms with which to defend themselves. In April 1848 Lamartine was elected to the National Assembly by 10 départements. The bourgeoisie, represented by the right-wing parties, thought they had elected in Lamartine a clever manipulator who could placate the proletariat, while military forces capable of establishing order, such as they conceived of it, were being reconstituted. The bourgeoisie was enraged to discover, however, that Lamartine was, indeed, as he had proclaimed himself to be, the spokesman of the working class. On June 24, 1848, he was thrown out of office and the revolt crushed.

A broken man, Lamartine entered the “twilight” of his life. He was 60 years old in 1850, and his debts were enormous, not because he had been personally extravagant but because of the allowances he gave his sisters to compensate for the total property inheritance he had received as the only male in the Lamartine family. For 20 years he struggled desperately, though in vain, against bankruptcy, publishing book after book: Raphaël, a transposed account of his love for Julie Charles; Les Confidences and Nouvelles Confidences, wherein he intermingled real and imaginary elements (Graziella is a fragment of it); novels: Geneviève (1851), Antoniella, Mémoires politiques (1863), the last work being of great historical interest; a periodical titled Cours familiers de littérature (1856–1868/69), in which he published such poems as “La Vigne et la maison” and “Le Désert”; some historical works that remained unequaled, including Histoire des Constituants (1854), Histoire de la Restauration (1851–52), Histoire de la Russie, Histoire de la Turquie. He died nearly forgotten by his contemporaries.

Henri Guillemin

Encyclopaedia Britannica

In Vienna, uprisings of workers and students forced the government to abolish the census in March 1848, to enlarge the electoral franchise in the constitution, and to dismiss Chancellor Metternich, who subsequently fled. Within the multinational state of Austria, as liberals fought over their ideals, the non-German nationalities pushed for independence. The Czechs rebelled against the Habsburgs in the Pentecostal Uprising of Prague. The Hungarian nobility also pushed their claim for autonomy.

When 2 Lajos Kossuth called for an insurrection and proclaimed a Hungarian government in March 1848, the Austrian government agreed to a new parliamentary constitution.

A year later, Hungary declared independence under Kossuth but was defeated and dissolved by the Austrians with Russian assistance. In March 1849 the new Emperor Franz Joseph I imposed a constitution for Austria-Hungary that established a bicameral Parliament with a lower house elected by wealthy property owners.


Lajos Kossuth

2 Lajos Kossuth

Hungarian political leader

born Sept. 19, 1802, Monok, Hung.
died March 20, 1894, Turin, Italy

political reformer who inspired and led Hungary’s struggle for independence from Austria. His brief period of power in the revolutionary years of 1848 and 1849, however, was ended by Russian armies.

Early career
Kossuth’s father came of Slovak, his mother of local German stock. The family was noble and of ancient creation but not wealthy, and Kossuth’s father earned his living as an attorney for local landowning families. The Kossuths were Lutherans, and young Lajos studied at the Protestant academy of Sárospatak. After applying unsuccessfully for a post in government service, he found employment in his native county of Zemplén as agent to one of his father’s clients, Countess Etelka Andrássy, with whom he formed an attachment. He did notable work during the great cholera epidemic of 1831 but found his life narrow and frustrating; he was also suffering, as he would all his life, from financial embarrassment. In 1832 his employer had him sent to the national Diet in Pozsony (now Bratislava) as substitute delegate for one of her relatives.

Political journalism
At this “long Diet” the new generation of Hungary’s reformers was mounting its first full-scale offensive against the absolutist and obscurantist system under which Hungary was then ruled from Vienna, and in its excited atmosphere Kossuth developed his political and social philosophy of advanced radicalism. There was no postulate of the European liberalism of the day that he did not burn to see realized in Hungary—no abuse or injustice there left unremedied. But liberty meant for him, above all else, national liberty, and he felt passionately that, until Hungary enjoyed de facto the internal freedom to which its laws entitled it, no social or economic progress was possible. The first battle, therefore, must be the political one. Sanguine and impulsive, he was blind to the dangers involved in too strong a challenge to Vienna.

Kossuth’s mandate did not entitle him to participate in the Diet’s debates, but he found a way of voicing his views. At that time the Diet’s proceedings were not published, and Kossuth hit on the idea of issuing letters describing them. These reports, which were not verbatim records but colourful impressions barely distinguishable from political pamphlets, were copied by hand by enthusiastic young helpers and circulated throughout Hungary. Brilliantly written, they were widely and avidly read, and, when the Diet ended in 1836, the county assembly of Pest invited him to write a similar series on its proceedings. Now, however, he was no longer protected by parliamentary immunity, and on May 4, 1837, he was arrested and, after 18 months’ detention, sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for subversion.

Released under an amnesty in 1840, Kossuth found himself a popular hero. The proprietor of a biweekly journal, the Pesti Hirlap, made him its editor. His articles were written in a fluent and beguiling style and gained him innumerable devotees at the same time that they alarmed the Austrian authorities, the Hungarian conservatives, and even Hungary’s moderate reformers. He also antagonized the Croats and non-Magyars of Hungary by his chauvinistic insistence on the supremacy of its Magyar element. In 1844 his publisher dismissed him, and he was refused permission to start a journal of his own. Metternich offered him journalistic employment in the service of the government, but this he refused. His next enterprise, inspired by the writings of the German economist and industrial promoter Friedrich List, was to found a society for promoting Hungarian industry, with the ultimate objective of achieving greater economic independence. This program proved a fiasco but afforded him a platform for continued agitation.

The revolution of 1848.
In 1847 the county of Pest elected Kossuth to represent it in the next Diet, in which he assumed leadership of the “national opposition,” which had agreed on an extensive program of political and social reform. The reformers made a little progress in subsidiary fields, but deadlock had been reached on the central issue of political control when the news of the revolution in Paris (February 1848) gave Kossuth his opportunity. On March 3, in a speech of extraordinary power—for his tongue was as magical as his pen—he demanded the removal of the dead hand of Viennese absolutism as the only way to safeguard the liberties of Hungary and of all the peoples of the monarchy. He practically dictated to the Diet an address to the crown, embodying the reformers’ program. When news of the revolution in Vienna reached the Diet on March 14, Kossuth expanded the address, and, as a member of the deputation that carried it to Vienna the next day, saw it accepted by the panic-stricken court.

Count Lajos Batthyány, the new Hungarian prime minister, allotted Kossuth the portfolio of finance in his government, a choice that proved dangerous, for the ultimate control of finance proved, with that of the defense services, to be precisely the chief bone of contention between Hungary and Vienna. Kossuth was soon at loggerheads with the new Ministry of Finance in Vienna—meanwhile, he had made himself the life and soul of the more extreme nationalist movement in Hungary, often to the embarrassment of his fellow ministers, who were striving to prevent a breach with Vienna. Kossuth often acted without consulting them or even in defiance of agreed decisions, appealing over their heads to the public in a journal edited and mainly written by himself. Yet they dared not dismiss him and could not even dispense with his services, for his nationwide popularity was their greatest asset.

It was Kossuth who, so far as any Hungarian did so, precipitated the final clash by persuading the Diet, in July, to tie the dispatch of Hungarian troops to Italy to political conditions obviously unacceptable to Vienna, at the same time calling for a big national force to defend Hungary against the danger he declared, not without reason, to be threatening it from the Croats and Serbs. When, in September, the Austrian-inspired Croat army invaded Hungary and Batthyány resigned, Kossuth became head of the committee of national defense appointed by the Diet as provisional authority. He was now virtual dictator of Hungary. The next months brought out all of his greatness and his weaknesses: his magnetism and his courage, his intolerance and his lack of realism, his wanton provocation of insuperable difficulties and his genius at overcoming them. No one but Kossuth could have given his people the heart to face the overwhelming odds against them, but he increased those odds by his intransigence and aggravated difficulties by his jealousy and suspicion of his best general, Artúr Görgey, and by his meddling in military affairs. The refusal of the Diet to recognize the abdication of the Austrian emperor Ferdinand I (December 2) was his work, as was the Diet’s declaration of April 14, 1849, proclaiming the dethronement of “the perjured House of Habsburg-Lorraine.” The Diet then elected Kossuth himself “governor” of Hungary, but when, after the arrival of the Russian armies, even he had to recognize the hopelessness of the situation, he resigned this post to Görgey (August 11) and took refuge in Turkey.

The Western powers put pressure on the sultan to refuse Austria’s and Russia’s demand for his extradition, and Kossuth spent two years interned in Kütahya in Anatolia. The U.S. government invited him to visit America and sent a frigate. He stopped in England on the way, where he addressed a series of mass meetings, speaking in English, which he had learned from the Bible and the works of William Shakespeare during his confinement. He was received with unprecedented popular ovations, and his reception in the United States was equally favourable, but in neither country could he obtain official support for Hungary’s cause. He then settled in London. In correspondence with his followers at home, he endeavoured to keep alive in them the spirit of resistance. At the persuasion of the Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini, with whom he became intimate, he joined his revolutionary committee. Having moderated his views on the question of nationalities, he discussed with various circles, including the Moldavian and Serbian courts, plans—never to be realized and perhaps never quite realistic—for uniting Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, and Romania in a Danubian federation.

In 1859, when war between Austria and France was imminent, the French emperor Napoleon III invited him in a personal interview to organize revolt in Hungary on the outbreak of war. Kossuth agreed, subject to certain safeguards and conditions. Military preparations were concerted with France and Piedmont, and Kossuth’s own eloquence helped to deter Great Britain from intervening against France; but the plans collapsed when, in July, Napoleon concluded an armistice with the Austrian emperor Francis Joseph I, leaving the Hungarians to their fate.

The promising international conjuncture never recurred, and in the following years Kossuth, living abroad in Turin, had to watch Hungary, guided by Ferenc Deák, move toward reconciliation with the Austrian monarchy. He did so with bitterness in his heart, and on the eve of the conclusion of the Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich, or Compromise of 1867, he published an open letter calling down woe upon the measure and its author. This “Cassandra letter” stirred the opponents of the compromise but could not prevent its adoption and subsequent maintenance. He spent his last years in loneliness, near-poverty, and increasing infirmity, sadly aware that Hungary’s new leaders rejected the tenets to which he remained unalterably attached. He died in 1894. His body was brought back to Hungary and interred there amid nationwide mourning.

In 1841 Kossuth had married Terézia Meszlényi, who died in 1863. Their son, Ferenc Kossuth, was for a time president of the Hungarian Party of Independence.

After his death, Kossuth remained a popular idol in Hungary, his name a symbol of the aspiration for independence. His legend grew with the years and was further cultivated after 1945, when Hungary had lost much of the independence for which Kossuth struggled.

Kossuth wrote one volume of autobiography that was published in English in 1880 as Memories of My Exile. It mainly concerns his activities in 1859–61 and contains valuable material on his interviews with Napoleon III, his dealings with the Italian statesman Cavour, and his correspondence with the Balkan courts in connection with his plans for a Danubian federation.

Carlile Aylmer Macartney

Encyclopaedia Britannica



Uprisings in Italy and the March Revolution in Germany

In Italy and Germany, national unification was at the center of revolutionary demands. While the uprisings in Italy were suppressed by the authorities, the March Revolution in Germany led to the first democratic constitutional convention—but this failed to realize its aims.


In  11 Italy the revolutionary movement strove not only for democratic reforms but also for the creation of an Italian national state in a country which did not yet have a very strong national consciousness.

11 Suppression of riots in the city of Naples, 1848

As early as January 1848, riots in the Two Sicilies forced 7 King Ferdinand II to allow a constitution.

7 Ferdinand II, king of the
Two Sicilies, portrait, 19th century

Later, however, "King Bomba." as Ferdinand was known, shelled the Sicilian towns in order to suppress the rebellion. Elsewhere in Italy, the struggle against Austrian occupation failed, and the revolts of November 1848 in Rome were crushed by French and Austrian troops at the request of Pope Pius IX.

In the  6 German states the February Revolution in Paris had also inspired revolutionary forces.

6 Crowds waving the German colors during
street fighting in Berlin, 1848

The populace, particularly in the southwest of the country, began demanding democratic rights, in response to which many of the smaller states established middle-class liberal "March ministries." The Prussian king Frederick William IV decided to make liberal concessions. As he was announcing these to a crowd of people in front of the Berlin Palace, his guards opened fire.

This led to heavy 10 street fighting in which 300 people died.

10 Manning the barricades in Berlin
during street fighting on March 18-19,1848

Frederick William honored those 8 who fell in March by riding through the city wearing a sash in black, red, and gold— the colors of the democratic movement.

8 Funeral of those killed during March 1848 in Berlin

However, the identification of the government with the people did not last long: The new liberal ministry was replaced by a conservative one in November 1848.

The 9 German National Assembly met in Frankfurt in May 1848 and drew up a liberal constitution for a united Germany.

9 German National Assembly meets in St. Paul's Church
in Frankfurt on May 18, 1848

Their work was dismissed contemptuously by the Prussian king, confirming the total failure of the 1848 revolution, and with it the liberal democratic path to German unification. Instead it would have to rely on the force of Prussian arms and the leadership of Chancellor Bismarck.



Reasons for the Failure of the 1848 Revolution

Many of the demands of the revolutionaries of 1848 were satisfied over the two decades that followed, but in the immediate aftermath all agreed that the Europe-wide protests had been in vain. The disunity of the participants themselves is perhaps the most important reason for this failure.

Idealistic and possessed of a wide variety of aims, from democracy and national self-determination to cheaper bread, there was never any real coherence to their program. The revolutionaries also underestimated the resolve and ruthlessness of their governments, which violently suppressed the crowds while also successfully dividing them with concessions.

Riots by the Charles V bridge in Prague, 1848




Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

| privacy