Neoclassicism and Society – Influences

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.

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