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Neoclassicism Collage

Neoclassicism

Started: 1750

Ended: 1850

Neoclassicism Timeline

Quotes

"Art must have grandeur and moral purpose."
Jacques-Louis David
"The artist must be a philosopher and have no other guide except the torch of reason."
Jacques-Louis David
"A painter should be a man of order."
Jacques-Louis David
"The function of art is to make virtue adorable and vice repugnant."
Denis Diderot
"The same truth that guides the pen of the historian should govern the pencil of the artist."
Benjamin West

KEY ARTISTS

Jacques Louis DavidJacques Louis David
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Jean-Auguste-Dominique IngresJean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
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"There is but one way for the moderns to become great, and perhaps unequalled; I mean by imitating the ancient...especially the Greek arts."

Johann Joachim Winckelmann

Synopsis

New classics of the highest rank! This was the rallying cry of populations immersed in the 18th century Age of Enlightenment who wanted their artwork and architecture to mirror, and carry the same set of standards, as the idealized works of the Greeks and Romans. In conjunction with the exciting archaeological rediscoveries of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Rome, Neoclassicism arose as artists and architects infused their work with past Greco-Roman ideals. A return to the study of science, history, mathematics, and anatomical correctness abounded, replacing the Rococo vanity culture and court-painting climate that preceded.

Key Ideas

Neoclassical art arose in opposition to the overly decorative and gaudy styles of Rococo and Baroque that were infusing society with a vanity art culture based on personal conceits and whimsy. It brought about a general revival in classical thought that mirrored what was going on in political and social arenas of the time, leading to the French Revolution.
The primary Neoclassicist belief was that art should express the ideal virtues in life and could improve the viewer by imparting a moralizing message. It had the power to civilize, reform, and transform society, as society itself was being transformed by new approaches to government and the rising forces of the Industrial Revolution, driven by scientific discovery and invention.
Neoclassical architecture was based on the principles of simplicity, symmetry, and mathematics, which were seen as virtues of the arts in Ancient Greece and Rome. It also evolved the more recent influences of the equally antiquity-informed 16th century Renaissance Classicism.
Neoclassicism's rise was in large part due to the popularity of the Grand Tour, in which art students and the general aristocracy were given access to recently unearthed ruins in Italy, and as a result became enamored with the aesthetics and philosophies of ancient art.

Predecessors

Neoclassicism Image

Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain

Neoclassicism adopted the hierarchy of painting that was established by the French Royal Academy of the Arts in 1669. History painting, which included subjects from the Bible, classical mythology, and history, was ranked as the top category, followed by portraiture, genre painting, landscapes, and still-lifes. This hierarchy, was used to evaluate works submitted for the Salon or for prizes like the illustrious Prix de Rome, and influenced the financial value of works for patrons and collectors. The works of Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain were revered as the ideal exemplars of history painting, and both artists were primary influences upon Neoclassicism.

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Neoclassicism Overview Continues

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Kimberly Nichols

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Kimberly Nichols
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