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Neoclassicism Style of Painting

The word Neoclassical comes  from the  translates to  'New Classical'

Important Neoclassical Artists

Antonio Canova (1757-1822) Italian, Neoclassical

Jacques-Louis David (1748 - 1824) French, Neoclassical

Francois Gerard (1770-1837) Italian, Neoclassical

Antoine-Jean Gros 1771-1835)  French, Neoclassical

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780 - 1867) French, Neoclassical

Angelica Kauffman (1741 - 1807) Swiss, Neoclassical

Rembrandt Peale (1778-1860) American, Neoclassical

Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) Dutch, Neoclassical

John Trumbull (1756-1843) American, Neoclassical

Élizabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun (1755 - 1842) French, Neoclassical

Benjamin West (1738 - 1820) American, Neoclassical

Origins of the Neoclassical Painting Style

Neoclassical art is distinguished by the sweeping classical gestures and structure, perfect form, and to a degree, realism. More than just a classical revival, Neo-Classicism was directly connected to existing political upheaval. Neo-Classical artists at first wanted to supplant the eroticism and frivolity of the Rococo style with a style that was orderly and serious in character. The fantasy-based aristocratic art of the Rococo seemed an insult upon the rights of men and was vilified by critics and the general public. In an age of sweeping revolution and transformation Neoclassicism became the art of change. French Neoclassicism emphasis's nationalism, as well as a sense of respect and morality. The movement was mainly connected with the beliefs of the French Revolution and was seen as being against the hated French aristocracy. Many prominent French painters regularly attended executions of the nobility. The artists would bring along a bottle of wine and picnic basket, cheering when the guillotine sliced off another head. These gruesome events inspired many great art-works.

Neoclassicism art has its roots in Greek and Roman art and the recent archeaoligical discoveries of the era. Art Historian John C. Van Dyke had this to say about the Neoclassical style of painting, "This was a revival of Greek form in art, founded on the belief expressed by Winckelmann, that beauty lay in form, and was best shown by the ancient Greeks. It was the objective view of art which saw beauty in the external and tolerated no individuality in the artist except that which was shown in technical skill. It was little more than an imitation of the Greek and Roman marbles as types, with insistence upon perfect form, correct drawing, and balanced composition. In theme and spirit it was pseudo-heroic, the incidents of Greek and Roman history forming the chief subjects, and in method it rather despised color, light-and-shade, and natural surroundings. It was elevated, lofty, ideal in aspiration, but coldly unsympathetic because lacking in contemporary interest; and, though correct enough in classic form, was lacking in the classic spirit. Like all reanimated art, it was derivative as regards its forms and lacking in spontaneity. The reason for the existence of Greek art died with its civilization, and those, like the French classicists, who sought to revive it, brought a copy of the past into the present, expecting the world to accept it."

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