As everywhere in Europe, the first years of the nineteenth century in eastern Europe and Scandinavia are shaken by Napoleon’s military campaigns. After the conclusion of hostilities, the Danes, who sided with the French, are stripped of Norway, which is ceded to Sweden, who had sided against France. The Russians’ bold and ultimately successful resistance to the French invasion earn them respect and admiration in international circles.
Between 1815 and 1848, growing prosperity and nationalist sentiment in both eastern Europe and Scandinavia foster the development of all the arts. Painters trained at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen portray the unique qualities of Northern light and the harsh beauty of the Scandinavian landscape. In Russia, fresh attention to folk culture and contemporary social realities invigorates efforts in painting, literature, and music.
By the 1850s, poverty, emigration, and depopulation weaken Scandinavia, while the Russian empire continues to prosper, dominating eastern Europe and recognized everywhere as a major player in world affairs. By the end of the nineteenth century, Russian authors and composers, among them Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Mussorgsky, and Tchaikovsky, are read, heard, and acclaimed throughout the world.