Glossary

What is Neoclassicism?

Neoclassicism is an artistic and architectural movement that emerged in the 18th century as a reaction against the extravagant and ornate style of the Baroque period. It drew inspiration from the art and culture of ancient Greece and Rome, particularly from the classical works of Greek and Roman literature, philosophy, and architecture. Neoclassical artists and architects sought to revive the ideals of classical antiquity and promote a return to rationality, simplicity, and order.


In painting and sculpture, Neoclassicism emphasized clean lines, balanced compositions, and a focus on idealized figures. Artists often depicted classical mythological themes, historical events, and portraits of prominent individuals in a style reminiscent of ancient Greek and Roman art. The works were characterized by clarity, restraint, and a sense of harmony.


Neoclassical architecture, on the other hand, aimed to recreate the grandeur and proportion of ancient Greek and Roman buildings. Architects drew inspiration from classical orders, such as the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, and incorporated them into their designs. Neoclassical buildings often featured symmetrical facades, columns, pediments, and other classical elements, evoking a sense of timelessness and stability.


The Neoclassical movement had a significant influence on various art forms, including painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, and decorative arts. It spread across Europe and later reached the United States, where it played a significant role in shaping the early architectural and artistic landscape of the country.


Important Neoclassical artists include Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and Antonio Canova, while prominent Neoclassical architects include Andrea Palladio, Étienne-Louis Boullée, and Robert Adam.

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