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Picnic wagons, and later trolleys, made runs from the center of town.
I doubt any farmers would think it remotely delightful to spend Sunday eating from the ground over which they labored the rest of the week, but nevertheless city-dwellers began idealizing that practice as a return to nature.
The Romantic poet William Wordsworth, a member of the middle class, was perhaps the first lyricist of the picnic.
In the hundred years after 1750, the population of England nearly tripled, and by 1850, half its population lived in cities.
What had previously seemed like a unified world started to divide between city and country.
We had to have the picnic to a park a couple of streets over.
Only problem was that we had to forego bouncy houses on this particular site, which would be a disappointment to the kids, as this had become a tradition.
At the end of the 18th century, he and his school friends took to dining outdoors, as he writes in the autobiographical poem during a picnic, another early incidence of what would become a longstanding trend in art: the country outing as a figurative journey to revelation.
Treated sentimentally as well as allegorically, the picnic was a frequent subject in painting, too, especially during the 19th century.
In the process, it inspired nostalgia, tested the boundaries of morality, and became a cottage business. But in large part, it has become a cultural memory instead of an activity.* * *Romanticism was the aesthetic consequence of the Industrial Revolution’s changes to social and material life.
The movement reappraised nature, helping shape picnics as a cultural fad.