Art in Neoclassicism

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.

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