Neoclassicism and the French Revolution | ssztajer
If Rococo art was aimed at the French aristocracy, then then Neoclassical subject matter was art with a moral. Mar 6, During the latter half of the 18th century the French Revolution began. It was during this time that art took a turn from Rococo to Neoclassicism. The French Revolution (–) was flanked by two artistic styles, Rococo and Neo-classicism. Rococo is a decorative style of the early to midth century .
Neoclassicism is more than a simple shift in artistic style or in audience taste, the style became a vehicle for conformity or rebellion, for the erotic or the political, depending upon the artist in question.
The fact that a philosopher and a thinker such as Diderot was also an art writer, corresponding with the crowned heads of Europe, attests to the increasing importance of art as a mode of communication of social ideas. Inspired by classical antiquity, artists painted with archaeological exactitude, based upon historical research and actual trips to Italy. The Neoclassical style was one of intellect, an art of perfecting nature and of presenting idealized human forms and exemplary human behavior.
As such, Neoclassicism can be thought of as the application of a theory of aesthetics, a new definition of art as an attempt to re-write social existence and as a text suggesting a new world of improved human behavior.
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But it was the aristocracy itself that provided the first and most enthusiastic market for Neo-classicism. The market orientation of Neoclassicism is most obvious in the early stages of the style with the frozen eroticism of Joseph-Marie Vien, but this fascination with the eroticized female would be ended by the second stage of Neoclassicism, and heroic men would take the center stage as active and noble subjects.
Monumentality and sober and serious colors, strong shadows and theatrical settings filled with brave men engaged in virtuous enterprises became the preferred style at the end of the Eighteenth Century. As seen in the art of a French artist, Joseph-Marie Vien and a Swiss artist working in England, Angelica KauffmannNeoclassicism is basically a reform of the Baroque with classical subject matter as the major content.
Both artists presented a parade of antique characters, mostly women, wearing attractive Greco-Roman gowns, engaged in ordinary everyday activities. It is perhaps in England that the link between Neoclassicism and the Enlightenment can be most clearly seen.
In her book, Geometries of Silence: But most of all, the Enlightenment introduced the concept of rigor in thinking and logic in theory, making it a thoroughly middle class philosophy that prized individual humanity. In an homage to middle class ideals, Kauffmann created genre scenes out of the classical era, domesticating and gendering Roman virtue, and celebrating the ethics of women.
French Neoclassicism | Art History Unstuffed
The patrons for these artists were aristocrats who liked to keep up with the latest art trends, but what is interesting in the case of these early Neoclassical artists is that these artists produced stories of everyday life, rather than serious history painting, and that these paintings were clearly destined for a domestic rather than a state setting.
He studied at the French Academy in Rome,where he made detailed studies of the anatomy of the ancient Roman and Greek statues on display there. His works varied widely from neoclassical to rococo; he conceived a terra-cotta model for an extraordinary monumental sculpture, covered with statuary of angels and cupids, to celebrate the first balloon flight in Paris Augustin Pajou also studied at the French Academy in Rome from and He returned to Paris to teach at the Academy of Fine Arts, and became rector in He made a series of highly expressive statues on mythological subjects, including Psyche and Amour.
The new style also took inspiration from the decorative grotesques of Raphael painted at the Vatican in A new version of neoclassicism appeared briefly during the French Directoratewhich mingled elements the Pompeiian style with the Adam style from England.
When Napoleon Bonaparte seized power from the Directory, the neoclassical style began to take on a new form, called Empire Style The motifs were usually symbols of empire, including crowns and laurel wreaths, medals, lyres, horns of plenty, and classical heads seen in profile.
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The Age of Enlightenment and the Grand Tour Ever since the fall of the Roman Empire, thirteen centuries earlier, Europeans had been nostalgically fascinated by the grandeur and glory of ancient Rome.
It was always in the intellectual background, hence several classical revivals emerged over the centuries, such as the one that materialized in Italian Renaissance art.
However, it was powerfully reignited in the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century, due to the philosophical return to classical thought, and renewed appreciation of Greek and Roman cultures. Being one of the leading advocates of Neoclassicism, German art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann summed up the admiration of a new generation of artists behind such resurgence of classical tradition in his book History of Ancient Art The Ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii The revival was also inspired by the excavation of the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii.
Such archaeological discoveries were the biggest news of the day.
Ancient lost cities, frozen in time, preserved for centuries and about to give an accurate picture of life in antiquity. The excavated artifacts sparked the interest of people and artists in particular. Several books were published about Graeco-Roman art like Antiquities of Athens of by English archaeologists James Stuart and Nicholas Revett and the European fascination with classical antiquity began to be reflected in paintings, fashion, furniture and even tableware and garden design.
Architecturally, the Arc de Triomphe of Paris built between and is one of the best known Neoclassical constructions.
Also, the American Founding Fathers were in favor of the Neoclassical style. Many government buildings, universities and museums were built to look like Greek temples, for example the White House built between and the US Capitol built between The Age of Revolution 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.