Characteristics of neoclassicism literature definition artists


Artistic style emerged in Europe from the second half of the 18th century. In this article we will provide you the Characteristics of neoclassicism literature.

Neoclassicism is an artistic style that emerged in Europe from the second half of the 18th century .

This condensed on the artistic plane the rational values proposed by the thought of the Enlightenment . In this sense, the political, social and philosophical ideals of the so-called “classical civilizations” were revalued, that is, of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome , which were considered as classicist models to follow.

These ideals were translated into the recovery of values, such as the republican form of government , democracy as a model of political and social order, the use of human reason to produce knowledge and the ideals of harmony , order , symmetry and beauty of tradition. classical in art.

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Historic context of of neoclassicism

Neoclassicism arose from the diffusion of the ideas of the Enlightenment in Europe.

In France, it coincided with the weakening of the French absolutist monarchy ; the outbreak of the French Revolution – which directly or indirectly affected all European monarchies – and the expansion of the Napoleonic Empire.

On the social side, the growing importance of the bourgeoisie was highlighted , an increasingly influential group that adhered to the liberal and rational ideas of the Enlightenment.

Characteristics of neoclassicism

The main characteristics of neoclassicism are the following:

  • He revalued the artistic forms of classical antiquity . His source of inspiration was the archaeological remains that were being studied in Rome and in the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii, in southern Italy. These ruins allowed us to discover details of Roman daily life (their houses, decoration, customs, furniture), unknown until that moment.
  • Art training through teachers and guilds was replaced by academies of art and architecture . The academies were official institutions that marked the taste of the time. The most important were: the Royal Academy in England, the Académie Française, the French School in Rome and the Accademia di San Luca in Naples.
  • Artists were trained in drawing from life, studying ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, and composition, among other disciplines. The success of the artists depended on the approval of the academy.
  • The main theorist of neoclassicism was Johann Joachim Winckelmann , who took Greek art as a model of grandeur and beauty and was very influential among artists and theorists.
  • He appealed to reason as a guide for his productions, leaving aside feelings, the subjective, the spiritual or the religious. The artists claimed to represent universal and timeless values .
  • Art began to achieve its autonomy. That is, the artists became independent from the demands of the great institutions, such as monarchies and the church, and sought to make works that reflected the republican spirit of the time.

Painting in neoclassicism

For neoclassic painting , drawing was of great importance in order to build pictorial forms. Likewise, a lot of importance was given to symmetry in the composition and the use of simple and simple shapes .

The treatment of the human body was characterized by the idealization of the forms following the classic models. The artists sought to embellish the reality that was represented.

He took themes from Roman history and mythology, both Greek and Roman, to make allegories of contemporary society .

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Neoclassicism architecture

Neoclassic architecture was characterized by the use of Greek and Roman models adapted to contemporary needs.

Symmetry and rational order were sought in the constructions. Following the model of the Greek temples, facades with columns and tympanums with reliefs were built.

The use of forms derived from Roman art, such as the semicircular arch and the dome, was also privileged.

Sculpture in neoclassicism

Neoclassic sculpture was inspired by ancient Greek and Roman sculptures recovered in archaeological excavations. Although he recovered those forms, he used them to express contemporary ideas.

The aim of the artists was to achieve a representation of concrete reality , but infusing the works with the ideals of nobility, truthfulness and harmonious beauty of classical sculpture .

The sculptors preferred white marble for their works, due to the nobility and purity that they considered that this material transmitted.

Literature in Neoclassicism

The literature of neoclassicism was characterized by its moralizing intention and by its rationality .

The neoclassical period was characterized by the great diffusion of the printed book . In France, the Encyclopedia was very important , a publication that emerged from enlightened thought that sought to bring together in an orderly and clear way the knowledge of the time.

Neoclassic artists

Some of the most relevant artists of neoclassicism were:

  • In paint:
    • Gavin Hamilton (1723-1798) and Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779): these studied in Rome, where they were in contact with Winckelmann. They were precursors of neoclassicism and spread it throughout the rest of Europe.
    • Jacques Louis David (1748-1825): trained in Rome, he was the leading neoclassical painter. Painter of the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte .
    • Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792): English painter and theorist, he was the founder and first president of the Royal Academy.
  • In architecture:
    • Jacques-Germain Soufflot (1713-1780): French architect who built the Church of Santa Genoveva, transformed into the Pantheon of Heroes after the French Revolution.
  • In sculpture:
    • Antonio Canova (1757-1822): Italian artist, protected by Napoleon Bonaparte, who was characterized by his highly polished figures in white marble.

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