At the turn of the nineteenth century, Central Europe is the seat of the cultural movement known as Romanticism, defined in 1798 by German critic Friedrich Schlegel (1772–1829) with particular regard to poetry. Named after the romance, a medieval literary form, the movement asserts the power of feeling over reason, and nature over artifice. Mysticism and, by extension, a taste for the fantastic and the sublime proliferate. In the visual arts, this results in a flowering of landscape painting and, combined with popular political sentiment as the region endures a period of French rule, influences a nationalist revival of medieval culture in literature, art, and architecture. Conflict with France resumes in the second half of the century, this time resulting in a unified Germany (1871).
In the 1830s, Belgium achieves political independence from the Netherlands; the two countries assert their independent cultural identities by drawing from their respective artistic legacies. In the last years of the century, Belgium is a center for avant-garde art, particularly Art Nouveau.