Difference Wiki

Romanticism vs. Realism: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 5, 2023
Romanticism is an artistic movement emphasizing emotion and imagination, while Realism focuses on depicting everyday life accurately.

Key Differences

Romanticism emerged as an artistic movement valuing emotion, nature, and individualism. Realism, in contrast, arose focusing on depicting life accurately, often highlighting the ordinary.
Romanticism often involves idealized, dramatic, or fantastical elements. Realism, on the other hand, strives for authenticity and factual representation.
In Romanticism, artists and writers sought to evoke deep feelings and highlight the sublime. Realism, conversely, aimed for a truthful, unembellished portrayal of life, including its hardships.
Romanticism celebrated the subjective experience and the mysterious. Realism, by contrast, was grounded in objective observation and scientific principles.
While Romanticism was a reaction against industrialization and rationalism, Realism emerged as a response to Romanticism, seeking to portray the world without romantic idealization.

Comparison Chart


Emotion, imagination.
Everyday life, accuracy.


Idealized, dramatic, fantastical.
Authentic, factual.


Evoking deep feelings, sublime.
Truthful, unembellished portrayal.


Subjective experience, mystery.
Objective observation, scientific principles.

Reaction Against

Industrialization, rationalism.
Romantic idealization.

Romanticism and Realism Definitions


An artistic movement valuing emotion and nature.
The painting's wild landscapes reflect Romanticism.


An artistic movement depicting everyday life accurately.
The novel's detailed descriptions showcased Realism.


A focus on individualism and the sublime.
Her poetry was deeply influenced by Romanticism.


Focusing on factual representation in art.
Her paintings are known for their adherence to Realism.


Emphasizing imagination and feeling in art.
Romanticism shaped his approach to storytelling.


Emphasizing the ordinary and authentic in art.
The sculpture captured the essence of Realism.


Celebrating the mysterious and fantastical.
His compositions were true to the spirit of Romanticism.


Grounded in objective observation and facts.
His writing style is deeply influenced by Realism.


Often Romanticism An artistic and intellectual movement originating in Europe in the late 1700s and characterized by a heightened interest in nature, emphasis on the individual's expression of emotion and imagination, departure from the attitudes and forms of classicism, and rebellion against established social rules and conventions.


An inclination toward literal truth and pragmatism.


Romantic quality or spirit in thought, expression, or action.


The representation in art or literature of objects, actions, or social conditions as they actually are, without idealization or presentation in abstract form.


A romantic quality, spirit or action.


The scholastic doctrine, opposed to nominalism, that universals exist independently of their being thought.


A fondness for romantic characteristics or peculiarities; specifically, in modern literature, an aiming at romantic effects; - applied to the productions of a school of writers who sought to revive certain medi val forms and methods in opposition to the so-called classical style.
He [Lessing] may be said to have begun the revolt from pseudo-classicism in poetry, and to have been thus unconsciously the founder of romanticism.


The modern philosophical doctrine, opposed to idealism, that objects exist independently of their being perceived.


Impractical romantic ideals and attitudes


A concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary.


A movement in literature and art during the late 18th and early 19th centuries that celebrated nature rather than civilization;
Romanticism valued imagination and emotion over rationality


An artistic representation of reality as it is.


An exciting and mysterious quality (as of a heroic time or adventure)


(sciences) The viewpoint that an external reality exists independent of observation.


A reaction against rationalism in art.
The novel's focus on intuition over logic embodies Romanticism.


(philosophy) A doctrine that universals are real—they exist and are distinct from the particulars that instantiate them.


As opposed to nominalism, the doctrine that genera and species are real things or entities, existing independently of our conceptions. According to realism the Universal exists ante rem (Plato), or in re (Aristotle).


Fidelity to nature or to real life; representation without idealization, and making no appeal to the imagination; adherence to the actual fact.


The practise of assessing facts and the probabilities of the consequences of actions in an objective manner; avoidance of unrealistic or impractical beliefs or efforts. Contrasted to idealism, self-deception, overoptimism, overimaginativeness, or visionariness.


The attribute of accepting the facts of life and favoring practicality and literal truth


(philosophy) the philosophical doctrine that physical object continue to exist when not perceived


The state of being actual or real;
The reality of his situation slowly dawned on him


An artistic movement in 19th century France; artists and writers strove for detailed realistic and factual description


(philosophy) the philosophical doctrine that abstract concepts exist independent of their names


Portraying life truthfully, without idealization.
The film's raw portrayal of events reflected Realism.


When did Romanticism emerge?

Romanticism emerged in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

What is Realism?

An artistic movement focusing on depicting everyday life accurately.

When did Realism become prominent?

Realism gained prominence in the mid-19th century.

What defines Realism in art?

Accurate depiction of life, authenticity, and factual representation.

What are key characteristics of Romanticism?

Emotion, imagination, nature, and the sublime.

Was Romanticism a reaction to something?

Romanticism was a reaction against industrialization and rationalism.

Did Romanticism influence literature?

Yes, Romanticism had a significant impact on literature.

Are there famous Romantic poets?

Yes, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are notable.

What is Romanticism?

An artistic movement valuing emotion, nature, and individualism.

Did Romanticism value emotion or reason more?

Romanticism valued emotion over reason.

Is Realism limited to visual arts?

No, Realism spans literature, theatre, and other art forms.

Can a work combine Romanticism and Realism?

Yes, some works blend elements of both movements.

How did Realism affect painting?

Realism led to more truthful and everyday subjects in painting.

Who are key Realist artists?

Gustave Courbet and Jean-François Millet are prominent Realist artists.

What prompted the rise of Realism?

Realism emerged as a response to Romanticism's idealization.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons