What is Neoclassical Art, Its Features, Paintings, Sculptures and Main Artists?

neoclassical art historyNeoclassical Art Movement

Neoclassicism was an artistic movement (painting, literature, sculpture and architecture), emerged in Europe around 1750, lasting until the mid-nineteenth century. This move aimed to rescue the aesthetic and cultural values ​​of the civilizations of antiquity (Greece and Rome).

Neoclassical Art Characteristics:

  • It represents the enhancement of themes and aesthetic standards of the ancient classical art. Heroes and creatures from Greek mythology, for example, were recurring themes in paintings and neoclassical sculptures.
  • Strong influence of philosophical ideas of enlightenment, especially those linked to reason.
  • In paintings, the use of cool colors and the elimination of perspectives were widely used resources.
  • It values simplicity and aesthetic purity (mainly in paintings) in contrast to the embellishments and complexities of Baroque and Rococo art.
  • In the literature, the texts present the main characteristics of synthesis, clarity and perfection of grammar.
  • In sculpture, you could find some strong influence of classical forms of the Renaissance. Unlike the Baroque sculptors, who painted their works, neoclassical artists opted for natural white marble (as the Greek and Roman sculptors).

Examples of famous neoclassicism artists and their works

Neoclassicism Paintings:

  • Oath of the Horatii (1785) – French painter Jacques David L.
  • The Death of Marat (1793) – French painter Jacques David L.
  • Bather of Valpincon (1808) – painting by French artist Auguste Dominique Ingres.
  • Carceri d’Invenzione (1760) – Architect engraving and Italian engraver Giambattista Piranesi.
  • Napoleon King of Italy (1805) – Italian painter Andrea Appiani work.
                                                                   Oath of the Horatii (1785)

Neoclassicism Sculpture:

  • Perseus with the head of Medusa (1800) – the work of the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova.
  • Spartacus (1830) – Statue made ​​by French sculptor Denis Foyatier.
  • Lucretia Dead (1803) – Work of French sculptor Damià Campeny.
Perseus with the Head of the Medusa
                          Perseus with the head of Medusa (1800)

Neoclassicism Literature:

  • The Spirit of the Laws (1748) – The work of Montesquieu.
  • The death of Cesar (1735) – Tragedy written by Voltaire.
  • Dangerous Relations (1782) – Novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.

Neoclassicism Architecture:

  • Portico of La Medeleine (built in Paris in 1842) – The French architecture Pierre-Alexandre Vignon work.
  • Bridge over the River Severn (built in 1775).
  • Pantheon – Neoclassical monument located in Paris.

Neoclassicism in Brazil

In Brazil, neoclassicism began in 1816 with the arrival of the French Artistic Mission and the founding of the Royal Arts and Crafts School. Therefore, we can say that the movement had great momentum with the actions of King John VI, who sought to encourage cultural development in Brazil.

In literature, we can highlight the Arcadians, who sought to portray the simple life of the field and aspects of nature. Tomas Antonio Gonzaga and Claudio Manoel da Costa were two Brazilian writers who fit this cultural context.

In the painting, we can highlight the foreign painters Rugendas, Taunay and Debret. They portrayed in their paintings, scenes of Brazilian daily life of the first half of the nineteenth century and various landscapes, typical animals, indigenous and various aspects of nature.

Neoclassicism Art Facts:

The findings and archaeological excavations of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the mid-eighteenth century had great influence at the beginning of the neoclassical movement. These findings did rekindle interest in art and Greco-Roman culture.



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