Chronologically the Gallery's display begins on the first floor. Room 1 opens with works by Caspar David Friedrich and his followers, who were representatives of Romanticism, one of the main trends in nineteenth-century art, which largely determined the development of European painting.
Romanticism took shape earlier in Germany than in France and found embodiment both in the fine arts and in literature, philosophy and music. Caspar David Friedrich, one of the greatest masters of German Romanticism, made use of the painted landscape to express philosophical ideas. His views of nature are very grandiose.
Friedrich's work influenced the artistic views of the Nazarenes, an association of German and Austrian painters who first came together in 1809 in Vienna as the Brotherhood of St Luke. Inspired by Christian and literary subjects, the Nazarenes strove to revive the language of classical painting. Examples of this type of art are the pictures Girl from Another Land (circa 1812-1831) by Johannes and Friedrich Riepenhausen and Contest of Bards (early 1810s) by Heinrich Anton Dahling,both stylised Renaissance works.
Returning from Italy to their native countries the Nazarenes transferred the so-called "high style" associated with the works of Renaissance masters to their native soil. At the same time Nazarene works helped to revive general interest in the Middle Ages, which was reflected in German painting of the first half of the nineteenth century.
Unlike the melancholy contemplation characteristic of German artists, the French Romanticists were more interested in the image of the individual at odds with the world around him, at the mercy of emotions and impulses, and yearning for nature as the embodiment of natural freedom. With the loss of firm ideals and stable moral principles the language of classicism also began to lose its relevance. Instead of subjects from Greek mythology the artists of the new generation preferred dramatic events from contemporary history: ideal heroes gave way to real people; dynamics and bold foreshortening replaced a pictorial structure based on balance and harmony.
In preferring real events, borrowing subjects from literature, and turning to the exotic Orient or the landscape genre, the exponents of French Romanticism introduced into their canvases a strong emotional element and clearly expressed subjective evaluation of what was taking place, removing art from the sphere of the impersonal but occasionally elevating an everyday subject to the level of Greek tragedy. A good example of this is Nude Study (1810-1811) (?)), associated with the name of the founder of Romanticism in French painting Theodore Gericault (although obviously not his work) and Eugene Delacroix's After the Shipwreck (1840-1847).
An opponent of Delacroix and Romanticism was Jean August Dominique Ingres, the main exponent of classical tragedy in French painting and champion of academic principles. His pictures with a religious content based on models of the art of the Renaissance age invariably retain an austerity and restraint of artistic language which had already become rare in the nineteenth century.
A most important place in the display belongs to the works of the great Spanish painter, draughtsman and engraver Francisco de Goya, who greatly influenced European painting of the first half of the nineteenth century. His stylistic manner, which evolved in the eighteenth century, underwent considerable changes at the dawn of the new century, when tragic features became increasingly evident in his work. His paintings of this period, often balanced on the verge of grotesque and reality, are characterised by a dynamic composition and vivid chiaroscuro contrasts. At this point Goya's portraiture also reached its height.
The painting of the first half of the nineteenth century is also represented in the display by a work of Horace Vernet, who travelled round the lands of the East several times, and items by painters of various countries in keeping with the Romantic trends in European art: Giovanni Migliara, Joseph Karl Stieler, Alexander Decane, Paul Delaroche, Theodore Guden, Nicholas Keiser and Barend Cornelius Kukkuk.