Romanticism was an Art movement of the first half of the 19th century that sought to emphasize the emotional impact of an artwork by focusing on the mood a picture conveyed to the viewer whether it be the awe-inspiring beauty of an idyllic landscape, the horror of a recent atrocity, the ominous foreboding of a fog-bound scene or the fear and hopelessness of a shipwreck.

Théodore Gericault was a pioneer of the movement and his masterpiece - The Raft of the Medusa - certainly conveyed desperation and despair through the drama of the composition. Based on a contemporary wreck, it received great praise and ignited political controversy when it was first exhibited.