Archive for the ‘Neoclassicism’ Category

Marie-Guillermine Benoist – Feminist Art

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Marie-Guillemine Benoist - Self Portrait

Many people believe that all the arts revolved around male artists but in actuality there were many renown artists throughout history, Even some that inspired political change, such as Marie-Guillemine Benoist. She was a Parisienne born to a civil servant and taught by Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun.

This painter was a true feminist and portrayed her beliefs through her work. One of her paintings ¨L’Innocence entre la vertu et le vice¨  shows her mythological abilities but in it she portrayes vice as a man, and traditionally it had always been represented by a woman.

Another very famous painting of hers was “Portrait d’une Negresse” which became a symbol of women’s rights and black peoples freedom. This painting was done just six years after slavery had been abolished in France and was acquired by Louis the XVIII.

Her work was commissioned by many notable people including Napoleon Bonaparte and was even awarded the cogl medal in the Salon of 1804.

Revival of Neoclassicism After WWI

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Pablo Picasso - Three women at the springAlthough the Neoclassical period took after the Rococo period and was a revival of ideals, traditions, and knowledgeable art techniques, it was soon followed by other art movements, soon to be revived again after WWI and before WWII.

During this era many modern artists, literary artists, and musicians decided to integrate neoclassical motifs into their  work. Even artists like Picasso reincorporated certain aspects of the neoclassical movement into certain pieces.

Even Art Deco incorporated neoclassical ideas, when architects integrated Grecian lines into their buildings around the 1950’s. During this time between the wars Neoclassicism mainly affected the world of literature, rejecting Romanticism and instead embracing Christianity, and politics.

The Neoclassical period between the wars was initiated in America as a way of returning to family and Christian values.



Most Representative Painting from Neoclassicism

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

Jacques-Louis David - Oath of HorattiThe Oath of Horatii is one of the best known examples of the Neoclassicism era. Painted by Jacques Louis David, it was considered to be the ideal of the new school of art. A style based on the ideas of a return to the classical. This painting was finished in 1785.

The painting portrays the Horatii brothers swearing their allegiance to the state while their father holds swords high for them to grasp.

The Oath of Horatii was commissioned from the Comte Dangiviller, supervisor of all architectural building under Louis the XVI. He wanted a painting based on Corneilles play, Horace, which at the time was performing in Paris. David began painting the Oath of Horatii in Paris, but felt that he needed the ambiance of Rome to finish this work. When the painting was first exhibited in Rome in 1885, it was considered to be a sensation, and was associated with the need to cry for the French Revolution, which was declared four years later.

The structured lines of the painting demonstrate how David stayed away from the delicate, feminine lines of Louis the XVI. Every line and color is minimalist and there are no unneeded brush strokes or anything that might denote femininity. The colors are well balanced, though kept to a minimum and even the clothing is made to denote patriotism.

Neoclassicism and Society – Influences

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Jacques Louis David-The Sabine womenNeoclassicism is an art style that affected the visual arts, literature, music, theatre, and architecture in the mid 18th and 19th centuries. What Neoclassicism embodies was the classical and the art of the ideal. It was a time when high standards were expected of all artists, to a point of near perfection.

Neoclassicism & especially its most important exponent, Jean Jacques David started to draw parallelisms between the times of the Roman Republic and the struggle for liberty in France which began during this era and which gave rise to the French Revolution. As opposed to Rococo (frivolity & opulence), the Neoclassical style was simple & austere (Roman values) depicting society’s rebellion against the lifestyle of nobility and the need of a democratic society. During Neoclassicism and especially during the French Revolution, virtues and values traditionally associated to Ancient Rome such as heroism, stoicism or patriotism often became themes for paintings. Thus both, themes and styles of the time showed the need of change and liberty in France (simplicity and austerity) and how the change needed to occur (with heroism & stoicism).

The period also took its influence from the great discoveries of the ancient cities of Pompeii, and of Herculaneum which happened at the time & renewed the interest of the times in the classical style.

When France and America adopted republic governments they supported and adopted the Neo Classical movements and wanted it associated with the Democracy of Ancient Rome and Greece.

Artists in Neoclassicism – Jacques Louis David

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Jacques Louis David-Self portrait - Neoclassicism periodThe most noted painter of this period was Jacques Louis David. David was born in 1748 into a middle class family.

At 16 he began to study at the Academie Royale under the Rococo regime. On a trip to Italy he was influenced by the classical genre and soon began to develop his own style. Later he became known as one of the artists to record the French Revolution and was even elected to high office within the party. He was a good friend of Robespierre. Later, he was imprisoned because of crimes committed during the reign of terror. He was later released and became the official painter of Napoleon Bonaparte and created huge masterpieces such as the coronation.

During his life, David painted for the royalty first, then for radical revolutionaries during the French Revolution and in the end for the emperor Napoleon. His political allegiances changed, but he was always loyal to Neoclassicism and its values of harmony, simplicity and proportion.

One of his most famous pieces is the Oath of the Horatii which is a classic version of all things the neoclassical period represents, with classic representation of the ideal forms of the Roman art era and dramatic lighting.

Art in Neoclassicism

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

The Death of Socrates, 1787 - Jacques Louis DavidThe Neoclassical art movement started around the mid 1700’s and was known for its Greek and Roman influence, but it was more than just a revival of the antiquities, it also represented the political events, and seriousness of the time. It was the period following the Rococo, and neoclassical artists sought to change the frivolous lightness of the previous period. Neoclassicism embodied a desire to return to the perceived “purity” of the arts of Rome. In general, Neoclassicism had austere linear designs and depicted classical themes and subject matters in archaeological settings, with people clothed in Classical costumes. Many of the neoclassical painters integrated Greek and Roman elements into the portraits and paintings of their time, adding fabled beings, and mythological figures became quite common for this artistic period.

Neoclassicism evolved as a reaction of society against the Baroque and Rococo periods, and was perceived as a way of returning to knowledge and a purity of form. It was a time where perfect control, great capability and great artistic knowledge were greatly rewarded. It was not a time for lifeless reproductions, frivolous work or self expression. These characteristics in any of the arts were not sought in this period.

The architecture of the time integrated classical motifs, clean basic lines and much of the Greek and Roman empire architectural elements.

The most noted painter of the period was Jacques Louis David and Joseph Marie Vien.

Neoclassicism in Decorative Arts

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Furniture - Neoclassicism - John Townsend (1733-1809) - USNeoclassicism made itself known in the decorative arts too. There is no better example of the era, than that found in the empire furniture, which was fashionable during the Napoleonic era times. Empire furniture became very popular in the upper classes of England, France, and the new Washington DC.

Although in France the nobility did not take on the style until Louis XVI’s wife introduced it into the palace decorations.

Other classic examples of Neoclassicism in the decorative arts were in the use of wedge wood decoration and their bas relief’s. It can also be noted in the black basalts vases made at the time.

Most wedge wood and porcelain pieces depicted some Roman or Greek motifs during this period and were made to represent the classical pieces that were being found at the time in the Pompeii and Herculaneum ruins.

Neoclassicism took over the interiors of courtrooms, palaces, and salons of most upper class families. It is most noted in the interiors of the Russian St. Petersburg.

The great architectural findings of Pompeii and Herculaneum influenced women to decorate their interiors in the classical fashion. The objective of these interiors was to represent an authentic Roman interior.

Neoclassicism in Architecture

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Neoclassicism - Architecture - Parthenon, ParisNeoclassicism was a movement that affected all art movements including architecture and came about because of many influences of the time. People were tired of the gaudiness, frivolity and innateness of the Rococo movement, and the archaeological findings during this century of the ancient Greek and Roman empires began to influence the art movements again.

Some anti Rococo influences in architecture can be detected as early as the 18th century as noted in the Palladin architecture of Britain and Ireland. Although the movement began in France, and continued on to England, Germany, it soon spread throughout the world. This architecture is noted for its strength, its classical lines, its simple characteristics, and much is modeled after the Roman fashion.

In France architects like Charles Perret even moved the column architecture into functional factory buildings.

By the mid 19th centuries cities like St Petersburg and Munich were literally transformed into neoclassical cities. The influence even reached American circle, the neoclassical movement in the United States was considered a part of the American renaissance and very large monuments like the Lincoln Monument were made in the style.

Other noted buildings were The National Gallery in Washington DC and the Museum of Natural History.


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