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In the arts, Neoclassicism is a historical tradition or aesthetic attitude based on the art of Greece and Rome in antiquity. The movement started around the 18th-century, age of Enlightenment, and continued into the early 19th-century The general credo associated with the aesthetic attitude of Classicism was that art had to be rational and therefore morally better. Neoclassicists also believed that art should be cerebral, not sensual and therefore characterised by clarity of form, sober colours and shallow space. It was a reaction against both the surviving Baroque and Rococo styles, and a desire to return to the perceived ""purity"" of the arts of Rome. The important artists of the movement include the sculptors Antonio Canova,Jean-Antoine Houdon and Bertel Thorvaldsen, and the painters J.A.D. Ingres, Jacques-Louis David and Anton Raphael Mengs.



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Date de parution 04 juillet 2023
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781644618752
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 12 Mo

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ISBN: 978-1-64461-875-2
Victoria Charles

The Precursors of Neoclassicism
The Neoclassical Period
Of Neoclassical Inspiration
Neoclassicism elsewhere the world
The Expressive Moods of Neoclassicism
The Decline
Jacques-Louis David (1748 Paris – 1825 Brussels)
Jean–Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780 Montauban – 1867 Paris)
Joseph Marie Vien (1716 Montpellier – 1809 Paris)
Anton Raphaël Mengs (1728 Aussig – 1779 Rome)
Johann Heinrich Fuseli (Zürich 1741 – London 1825)
Antonio Canova (1757, Possagno – 1822, Venice)
The Enlightenment marks the eighteenth century as a period heavily invested in ideas. Salon culture developed through the taste and social initiative of women during the Rococo period in the courts of France, Austria and Germany. These women were known as femmes savants, or learned women. In addition to art, the salons propagated Enlightenment ideas that rejected superstition and favored provable theories based on scientific methods. Empiricism flourished, coming out of the seventeenth century achievements in science, notably those of Britons Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727) and John Locke (1632 – 1727). Their insistence on tangible data and empirical proof changed the course of ideas.
In France, the philosophes helped to spread rational ideas based on reason into the areas of church and state. They believed that through the progress of ideas, there existed a possibility for the perfection of mankind. Gathering and ordering knowledge was part of the Enlightenment project. Accordingly, Diderot (1713 – 1784) created the first encyclopedia (thirty-five volumes 1751 – 1780) in an attempt to systematically record all existing knowledge. Diderot also became the first art critic by publishing his commentaries on the official French Salon exhibitions of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. Voltaire (1694 – 1778) wrote against the despotic rule of kings and the hegemony of the church. Later, revolutionary thinkers would recall his seminal ideas. Natural history and zoology were catalogued by the Comte de Buffon (1707 – 1788), while in Sweden Carolus Linnaeus created a comprehensive classification of plants.
Worldwide, the eighteenth century marks the start of the ‘modern’ period in which a self-conscious awareness of the present in relation to past begets a preoccupation with newness, or being current. Americans in the colonies were also noted for their commitment to Enlightenment ideas, most notably Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Scientific inventions flourished as much as social inventions, and the Industrial Revolution began in England in the 1740s. It was spurred on by research into steam power, electricity, the discovery of oxygen, and mechanical advances in technology, including the first use of iron for a bridge in 1776.
Born on the eve of the Age of Revolution, Neoclassicism reflected the intellectual, social and political changes of that period. The advent of revolutionary movements in France and America, based on classical ideals such as the democracy of ancient Athens and Rome, made Neoclassical art even more appealing. As three quarters of the French were illiterate, it created an opportunity for art to become a political tool to arouse revolutionary fervor.
The nineteenth century was a century of upheaval, of ferment of new forces and new ideas in conflict with the old. The two great storm centers were France, torn by its Revolution, with its political, social, and economic realignments; and England, disorganized by its Industrial Revolution, with its equally vast social and economic as well as cultural consequences. The freedom of inquiry and liberal thought born of the Renaissance bore fruit luxuriantly in France in the eighteenth century, notably in the work of the Encyclopedists and Rousseau, and voices were already raised in denunciation of social and economic injustice. By the end of the century this expression flared into action in the French Revolution. The Thirteen Colonies in North America had already separated from England, but it was the upheaval in France that caused repercussions throughout both Europe and the Latin American colonies, where French thought and influence had been strong, so that before the middle of the nineteenth century all the Middle, Central, and South American colonies of Spain and Portugal had severed political connections with their mother countries and set up republics. Europe saw the abolition or the limitation of kings and aristocracy in favor of constitutional monarchies or republics, and the consequent rise of the bourgeoisie and the lower classes into positions previously limited to the aristocracy — with a consequent shaking of traditional culture. The Industrial Revolution, starting in England, where scientific research and applied science ushered in the Machine Age, spread rapidly. The half-century from 1800 to 1850 saw the first of many inventions: steamboat, locomotive, transatlantic liner, and passenger train as well as the telegraph and the camera — all which, with other factors, eventuated in a great expansion of industry; in the rise of the wealthy manufacturer to challenge the wealthy landowner; in the drift of population to the cities where the manufacturing plants were located, with consequent overcrowding; in the emergence of those social and economic conditions which gave rise to socialism and other attempts to alleviate their injustice. The application of the scientific viewpoint, with its critical observation of phenomena, produced Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859) and a consequent long line of research; and a weakening of religious faith.

William Blake, 1757-1827, Romanticism, English, The Ancient of Days, 1794. Etching in relief with watercolour, 23.3 x 16.8 cm . The British Museum, London.

Anne-Louis Girodet, 1767-1824, Neoclassicism, French, Mademoiselle Lange as Danaë , 1799. Oil on canvas, 60.3 x 48.6 cm . Minneapolis Institue of Arts, Minneapolis.

Jacques-Louis David, Sappho and Phaon , 1809. Neoclassicism. Oil on canvas, 225.3 x 262 cm . The State Herm i tage Museum, St Petersburg.

Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres , 1780-1867, Neoclassicism, French, La Grande Odalisque, 1814. Oil on canvas, 91 x 162 cm . Musée du Louvre, Paris.
The Precursors of Neoclassicism
A focus in the eighteenth century on particular social virtues – patriotism, moderation, duty to family, the necessity to embrace reason and study the laws of nature – were at odds with the subject matter and hedonistic style of Rococo painters. Rococo was associated with the decadent ‘ancien régime’, whose painters were forced to flee the country or change their styles. In the realm of art theory and criticism, the philosophers and writers Diderot and Voltaire were unhappy with the Rococo style flourishing in France, and its days were numbered.

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