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Summary The artistic style known as "Neoclassicism" was the predominant movement in European art and architecture during

the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It reflected a desire to rekindle the spirit and forms of classical art from ancient Greece and Rome, whose principles of order and reason were entirely in keeping with the European Age of Enlightenment. Neoclassicism was also, in part, a reaction against the ostentation of Baroque art and the decadent frivololity of the decorative Rococo school, championed by the French court - and especially Louis XV's mistress, Madame de Pompadour - and also partly stimulated by the discovery of Roman ruins at Herculaneum and Pompeii (1738-50), along with publication in 1755 of the highly influential bookThoughts on the Imitation of Greek Works of Art, by the German art historian and scholar Johann Winckelmann (1717-68). All this led to a revival of neoclassical painting, sculpture and architectural design in Rome - an important stopover in the Grand Tour - from where it spread northwards to France, England, Sweden and Russia. America became very enthusiastic about Neoclassical architecture, not least because it lent public buildings an aura of tradition and permanence. Neoclassical painters included Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-79), Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807) and Jean-AugusteDominique Ingres (1780-1867); while sculptors included Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828), John Flaxman (1755-1826), Antonio Canova (1757-1822), and Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844). Among the best known exponents of neoclassical architecture were Jules-Hardouin Mansart (1646-1708), Jacques Germain Soufflot (1713-80), Claude Nicolas Ledoux (1736-1806), John Nash (1752-1835), Jean Chalgrin (1739-1811), Carl Gotthard Langhans (1732-1908), Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841), and Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764-1820).

Origins & Scope The revival of artistic canons from Classical Antiquity was not an overnight event. It built on Renaissance art itself, as well as the more sober styles of Baroque architecture, the mood of Enlightenment, the dissatisfaction with the Rococo, and a new respect for the earlier classical history painting of Nicolas Poussin (1593-1665), as well as the classical settings of Claude Lorrain's (1600-82) landscapes. Furthermore, it matured in different countries at different times. Neoclassical architecture actually originated around 1640, and continues to this day. Paradoxically, the abundance of ancient classical buildings in Rome meant that the city at the heart of the neoclassicism movement experienced little neoclassical architecture. In addition, despite appearances, there is no clear dividing line between Neoclassicism and Romanticism. This is because a revival of interest in Classical Antiquity can easily morph into a nostalgic desire for the past. Neoclassicism Characteristics Neoclassical works (paintings and sculptures) were serious, unemotional, and sternly heroic. Neoclassical painters depicted subjects from Classical literature and history, as used in earlier Greek art and Republican Roman art, using sombre colours with occasional brilliant highlights, to convey moral narratives of self-denial and self-sacrifice fully in keeping with the supposed ethical superiority of Antiquity. Neoclassical sculpture dealt with the same subjects, and was more restrained than the more theatrical Baroque sculpture, less whimsical than the indulgent Rococo. Neoclassical architecture was more ordered and less grandiose than Baroque, although the dividing line between the two can sometines be blurred. It bore a close external resemblance to the Greek Orders of architecture, with one obvious exception - there were no domes in ancient Greece. Most roofs were flat. 1

Neoclassical Painters Founders and famous artists of Neoclassicism include the German portraitist and historical painter Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-79), the Frenchman Joseph-Marie Vien (1716-1809) (who taught J-L David), the Italian portrait painter Pompeo Batoni (1708-87),the Swiss painter Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807), the French political artist Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), and his pupils Jean-Germain Drouais (1763-88), Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson (1767-1824), J.A.D. Ingres (1780-1867) the French master of academic art, and the American expatriate Benjamin West (1738-1820). In Britain, celebrated followers of Neoclassicism included: Sir Joshua Reynolds and the Irish virtuosoJames Barry. Neoclassical Sculptors Leading Neoclassical sculptors include Antonio Canova (1757-1822) who sculpted for Popes and Napoleon; the Englishman John Flaxman (1755-1826) who also designed Jasperware for Wedgwood; the Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) known for his Jason with the Golden Fleece (1802-3, Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen); and Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828), best known for his portrait busts in marble. In France, the tenuous ascendency of the rococo during the Regence period led to a reaction in favour of a nobler and more serious style of sculpture in the 1740s which, as we have seen, was associated with a feeling of nostalgia for the reign of Louis XIV. The classicism of the 1740s and of Bouchardon in particular should not however, be seen as a rejection of the baroque, but as a further development of baroque classicism that looks back to the style of the late 17th century rather than directly to Greek sculpture or Roman sculptureof antiquity. Only in Rome in the 1760s did the growing dissatisfaction with what Jacques-Louis David called 'la queue de Bernini' or the tail-end of the baroque, find expression in a coherent theory. The spokesman for neoclassical art was Johann Joachim Winckelmann(1717-68), the German antiquarian, who produced a number of publications onGreek art that for the first time attempted to organize Greek statues according to their stylistic development. Winckelmann saw the Baroque as an unfortunate inheritance that had to be swept away if artists were to return to the purity and simplicity of classical antiquity. He rather unexpectedly chose the statue in the Vatican known as Laocoon and His Sons (c.42-20 BCE), as one of the principal examples of the 'edle Einfalt und stille Grosse' of the best Greek works, but he saw these qualities in the restraint and nobility with which Laocoon suffers his terrible agony. The quality of restraint had always been admired by classical theorists, but the novelty in Winckelmann's argument is that his ideal of simplicity is not just an admonition to avoid over-elaboration, but a call to artists to purge themselves of everything extraneous to the pure realization of the idea of their work. As a result a convincing appearance of reality was no longer a sine qua non, and naturalism for its own sake was condemned as imitation of nature. Antonio Canova The theory and the earlier development of neoclassicism was essentially the achievement of foreigners in Rome, but the greatest exponent was Antonio Canova (1757-1822), an Italian who

studied in Venice. He became a sudden convert to the doctrine of neoclassicism, and we can follow the change in his work and the reaction of his contemporaries to it. Canova was born in Possagno, near Venice, and had achieved a great reputation in Venice, especially for the group of Daedalus and Icarus (1779). This work is still in an unmistakably late Baroque idiom; the surface of the figures is minutely depicted and their relationship graceful and conversational. He brought a version of it to Rome in 1779 where he became friendly with the Scottish painter Gavin Hamilton, who had become the arbiter of neoclassical taste after the death of Winckelmann in 1768. In 1781 Canova was given a block of marble by the Venetian ambassador for a group of Theseus and the Minotaurand, apparently on Hamilton's advice, he decided to show the moment of triumph after the battle instead of the battle itself. The work is revolutionary in its uncompromising severity. It marks the end of the baroque era in sculpture and henceforward the new Grecian style gradually took over as the official style for all monuments and large-scale sculptural projects. His Success with the Theseus led to the commission for the tomb of Pope Clement XIV (1784-7) in Ss. Apostoli in Rome. This project invited direct comparison with Bernini, and Canova's final realization can be seen as deliberate purification of Bernini's concept of the papal tomb; the dazzling polychromy has been replaced by unsullied Carrara marble, and the curvilinear forms and strong diagonals have yielded to a rigid system of horizontals and verticals, while the figures are spaced out and separated from each other. Canova's zeal in removing the excrescences from Bernini's conception has also removed much of the artistic vitality. His less ambitious works where a little rococo esprit remains are now much more acceptable than his grander tombs, but his contemporaries took a more high-minded view of his achievements. Milizia, a contemporary and supporter of Canova, praised the tomb of Clement XIV for its Grecian qualities, 'I feel assured, however, that if in Greece, and during the happiest ages of Grecian art, it had been required to sculpture a Pope, the subject would not have been treated in a manner different from the present', while spectators who saw the Theseus for the first time were convinced that it was a copy of a Greek original and were astonished to be proved wrong. Yet Canova always abhorred the practice of copying Greek works, for to him and to Winckelmann imitation meant the return to the original spirit of the Greeks, whose bronze and stone masterpieces were the natural outgrowth of a Golden Age when artists and philosophers were united in the contemplation of the perfection of the human body. (An approach taken up by Renaissance sculptors like Michelangelo.) The opposition to Canova, which was bitter in his early days, is summed up in the remark of the director of the French Academy, who on seeing the Theseus, asked Canova, Tell me, why have you changed your style; who persuaded you to abandon the pursuit of Nature?' Neoclassical Painting- The Revival of the Antique
Neoclassical painting typically involved an emphasis on austere linear design in the depiction of classical events, characters and themes, using historically correct settings and costumes. Its emergence was greatly stimulated by the new scientific interest in classical antiquity that arose during the course of the 18th century. A series of remarkable archeological discoveries, notably the excavation of the buried Roman cities of Herculaneum (begun 1738) and Pompeii (begun 1748), caused an upsurge of renewed interest in Roman art. Furthermore, from around 1712 onwards, several influential publications by Bernard de Montfaucon (1655-1741), Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-78), the Comte de Caylus, and Robert Wood provided engravings of Roman monuments and other antiquities and further heightened interest in classical antiquity. All this helped scholars to establish a more accurate chronology for GrecoRoman art, whose numerous strands and styles stimulated greater respect for the culture of the period. The writings of the German scholar Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-68) were particularly

influential in this regard and rapidly established him as the champion of Greek art, and of the latent style of Neoclassicism. Early Neoclassical Painting (c.1750-80) - Characteristics Neoclassicism as expressed in painting developed in different ways to neoclassical sculpture or architecture. The latter genres were based on actual prototypes which had survived from antiquity. But almost no paintings had been found to survive, until, that is, the excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii. The earliest painters of the neoclassical school were centred round Winckelmann and Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-79) in Rome. They included the Frenchman Joseph-Marie Vien (1716-1809) (whose pupils included J-L David), the Italian portraitist Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (1708-87), the Swiss artist Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807), and the Scotsman Gavin Hamilton(1723-98), all of whom were active in the 1750s, 60s, and 70s. And while their compositions typically included poses and figurative arrangements from Greek sculpture and vase paintings, they were still strongly influenced by the preceding rococo. The style of Kauffmann's pretty, sentimental paintings, for instance, is barely distinguishable from much rococo art. (Self-Portrait Torn Between Music and Painting , 1792, Puskin Museum of Fine Arts.) Even its classical scenes have a rococo-type lightness. (Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, 1785, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.) The same might be said of the work ofElisabeth VigeeLebrun (1755-1842). Another case in point is the neoclassical painting Parnassus (1761; Villa Albani, Rome) by Mengs, which borrowed heavily from 17th-century classicism as well as the High Renaissance master Raphael. Moreover, despite Mengs's apparent agreement with Winckelmann's theory of Greek aesthetics, the style he used in most of his church and palace ceilings was more akin to existing Italian Baroquetraditions than to ancient Greece. Other influences included works by the great Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665), the greatest French painter of the 17th century, whose own brand of classical history painting set the standard in academic art for generations and became the embodiment of French classicism. His contemporary in Rome, and an equally important influence on neoclassicism, was Claude Lorrain (1600-82), whose Italianate landscapes - filled with biblical and mythological narrative - inspired a wide range of successors, including JMW Turner. Later Neoclassical Painting (1780s onwards) - Characteristics A purer more rigorous school of Neoclassical painting appeared in France in the 1780s under the leadership of Jacques-Louis David. He and his contemporary Jean-Francois Peyronwere more interested in narrative painting than the ideal forms that fascinated Mengs. During the late 1780s and early 90s coinciding with the outbreak of the French Revolution - Jacques-Louis David and other painters borrowed inspirational subjects from Roman republican history in order to celebrate the values of simplicity, austerity, heroism, and stoicism - the same values that were being asserted at the time in connection with the French struggle for liberty. Thus David's historical compositions like the Oath of the Horatii (1784, Louvre, Paris) represent a strong sense of gravitas, as well as a certain rhetorical quality of posture and gesture, along with patterns of drapery that owe much to Greek sculpture. If some of these elements had already been seen in works by British and American painters like Hamilton and West, the figurative confrontations in J-L David's pictures are much more dramatic: not only are they starker and in clearer profile on the same plane, and set out against a more monumental background, but also there is nothing to be seen of the distinctive features of Baroque painting, such as diagonal compositional movements, large groups of

figures, and flamboyant drapery. Unlike the early Italian neoclassicism produced in Rome, this later French style of neoclassical painting was far more uncompromising, and pared down to its austere essentials - quite in keeping with the ruthless cultural vision of the French Revolution. See also David's masterpiece Death of Marat (1793, Musees Royaux des Beaux Arts, Brussels). This neoclassical austerity is aptly illustrated in the emotionally detached works of the great Neoclassical painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867). Ingres produced a large number of portraits and subject paintings - using a variety of classical and oriental themes - which were heavily dependent on linear design, a shallow picture plane and muted colours. Even his supposedly sensuous nudes, like The Turkish Bath (1862, Louvre) or La Grande Odalisque (1814, Louvre) are essentially cold compositions, brilliantly executed. Divergence From the Baroque Style Where 17th century Baroque painters made full use of the dramatic qualities of colour, atmosphere and light - witness its reliance on tenebrism andchiaroscuro - neoclassical painters, at least by the 1790s, emphasized outline and linear design. Widely available prints of classical sculptures and paintedGreek pottery helped to shape this bias, which can be clearly seen in the simplified illustrations made by the English sculptor John Flaxman (1755-1826) for editions of works by Homer and Aeschylus. These drawings are marked by their reduced pictorial space, and minimal stage setting, as well as an austere linearity in their depiction of the human form, a style later borrowed by several other figurative painters, such as the Swiss-born romantic painter Henry Fuseli(1741-1825) and the English romantic William Blake (1757-1827), among others. Neoclassical Costume, Setting, Subject Matter The Neoclassical painting school attached great value to the historical accuracy of costumes, settings, and background details in their compositions - a principle which could be applied easily enough to events taken from Greek mythology or Roman history, but which ran into controversy when applied to contemporary settings: after all, why should a modern hero be dressed in Roman clothes? This question was never satisfactorily overcome, except perhaps in J-L David's paintings such as Portrait of Madame Recamier (1800, Louvre). Most of the subject matter of neoclassicism painting was furnished by the history and mythology of ancient Greece and Rome, as it appeared in poetry by Homer, Virgil, and Ovid; plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; and historical accounts by Pliny, Plutarch, Tacitus, and Livy. Of these works, the single most important source was the Greek writer Homer, author of Iliad and Odyssey in the 8/9th century BCE. Other subjects included events from medieval history, works by Dante, and a deep appreciation for Gothic art. Neoclassicism Versus Romanticism For much of the period 1790-1840, Neoclassicism coexisted happily with the opposing tendency of Romanticism. This was because - far from being opposites - these two styles are ideologically close to one another. Historical or mythological compositions are typically based on inspirational events which can so easily be cast in a romantic or emotional light. The dividing line between the two can therefore be quite blurred, as shown by the following paintings: The Death of General Wolfe (1770, National Gallery of Canada, Ottowa) by Benjamin West; Napoleon Crossing the Alps (1801, Louvre) by J-L David; Raft of the Medusa (1819, Louvre) by Theodore Gericault; and TheDeath of Sardanapalus (1827, Louvre) by Eugene Delacroix. The first two belong to the Neoclassical school, the others to Romanticism, but the differences are minimal.