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Neoclassicism

NEOCLASSICISM

NEOCLASSICISM. One of the last truly international European aesthetic movements, neoclassicism left virtually no aspect of visual culture untouched. Despite its practical and theoretical connections to the classical tradition of Western art, neoclassicism was perceived by eighteenth-century critics as a revolutionary rejection of the decadence of the baroque that had held sway since the early seventeenth century. In addition to its formal stylistic characteristics, which include a propensity toward the emulation of ancient Greco-Roman art and an emphasis on dignity, restraint, and grandeur of scale, neoclassical art was often endowed with an ideological imperative. Seeking to reform society from above, many neoclassicists enlisted ancient virtue, morality, and ethics as antidotes to what they considered to be the frivolity, licentiousness, and sybaritic luxury of eighteenth-century elites. This reforming spirit was especially notable in France, where progressive artists embraced classical subjects that taught lessons in morality. The most important example in painting is Jacques-Louis David's Oath of the Horatii (1784). Visualizing La Font de Saint-Yenne's 1749 dictum, neoclassicism helped to redefined art's role in society as an agency that "made virtue attractive and vice odious."

As an artistic phenomenon, neoclassicism's impact may be seen in an astonishing variety of objects, from teaspoons and wallpaper to ecclesiastical architecture and equestrian monuments. Its earliest stirrings may be traced to the 1740s. Neoclassicism was given considerable impetus by the keen interest in archaeological excavation spurred by the discovery of the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii; regular excavations at Herculaneum began in 1738 and at Pompeii in 1748. Major excavations on the Palatine Hill in Rome, at Ostia and at Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli captured the imagination of Europe. Ancient sites in Spain, France, England, and elsewhere also received increased scrutiny. Such excavations created a mania for antique artifacts that led to numerous publications of the often spectacular finds. These books usually had engraved illustrations that did much to inspire artists, who quickly created both public and domestic spaces decorated by classically inspired art. Robert Adam's country house interiors, such as the great vestibule at Syon House, are important examples of neoclassicism's impact on the decorative arts and architecture inspired by neoclassical motifs. Josiah Wedgwood's ceramic works, fired at his factory in the English Midlands, reveal the ubiquity of the neoclassical aesthetic in both decorative and utilitarian objects.

Neoclassicism's epicenter was unquestionably Rome. As the artistic entrepôt of Europe and primary museum of the Western tradition, the city's privileged position as an international capital built on the decaying fabric of antiquity's greatest urban center gave Rome a unique luster. Enlightened papal policies led to the creation of Europe's first public museums, the Capitoline and the Pio-Clementino, which prominently featured canonical antiquities such as the Apollo Belvedere, the Capitoline Venus, and the Laocoön. These ancient marble sculptures were considered ideal exemplars of beauty and truth and inspired emulation by such artists as Antonio Canova, John Flaxman, and Bertel Thorvaldsen, among others. Indeed, Canova's Theseus and the Dead Minotaur of 17811783 is unimaginable without considering the artist's assiduous study of Greco-Roman sculptures preserved in Rome's museums and aristocratic collections.

The central aesthetic debates of neoclassicism also centered on Rome. Johann Joachim Winckelmann, a Prussian scholar and aesthete who served as librarian to Cardinal Alessandro Albani, gave a rationalist underpinning to developing neoclassicism with the 1764 publication of Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums (History of ancient art). Quickly translated into most European languages, Winckelmann's book had an unprecedented impact on ideas about art and its relationship to society. It also posed questions about the fundamental differences between ancient Greek and Roman art, resolved in favor of the former. Winckelmann viewed the development of antique art as cyclical, from perfection in classical Athens to the bombastic decadence of the Roman Empire. His view was supported by Cardinal Albani's favorite artist Anton Raphael Mengs, who painted Parnassus in 1761 to adorn the ceiling of the grand salon of Albani's chic new villa on the Via Salaria, completed in 1760 by the architect Carlo Marchionni. This fresco is the first fully developed essay in neoclassical painting. The Villa Albani's collection of ancient sculpture was the finest private collection in existence, and the villa became a major attraction for visitors who helped to spread neoclassical ideas.

Albani, Mengs, and Winckelmann as champions of the Greeks did not go unchallenged. The leading exponent of the superiority of Roman art was the Venetian architect and engraver Giambattista Piranesi. Through myriad publications, above all Della magnificenza ed architettura de' Romani (On the magnificence and architecture of the Romans) of 1761, Piranesi consistently championed the grandeur of scale and fantasy of invention of ancient Roman artists and architects, whom he believed had perfected the simplicity and nobility of form achieved by the Greeks. The Greeks-versus-Romans polemic was one of the major intellectual debates of mid-eighteenth-century Europe. Piranesi's publications also had a profound impact on foreigners because of their wide distribution. Visitors were often disappointed because the scale of both ancient ruins and modern buildings was much smaller than Piranesi's prints had led them to imagine.

The grand tour, that elite practice of transalpine travelers venturing to Italy to study the remains of antiquity and the canonical works of both ancient and modern art, was also a crucial factor in the development and dissemination of neoclassicism. Rich tourists created a thriving market for antiquities and created an industry based on the production of pastiched statues and outright fakes of everything from paintings to cameos. A casual visit to almost any British country house will reveal the extent of the collecting mania for all things ancient. The tour promoted the notion of an upper-class, cosmopolitan culture based on the primacy of the classical tradition and helped to create a republic of letters that gave Europe an unprecedented degree of intellectual and aesthetic unity.

While obviously retrospective in nature, by the last years of the century neoclassicism had also attained a utopian thrust that was exploited in the interest of political, social, economic, and spiritual reform. The antique panacea was offered to an ailing Europe for such perceived ills as obscurantism, religious fanaticism, superstition, and social inequality. It was the rationalist basis of neoclassicism that so appealed to progressive Enlightenment thought and that led proponents of the French Revolution to embrace it for regimist purposes. Later, Napoleon co-opted the Roman Empire as both a precedent for and a justification of his own. The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (18061807) in Paris, executed by Charles Percier to celebrate French victories at Austerlitz and Jena, was based on the precedent of Rome's Arch of Constantine. The fact that both Jacobins and Bonapartists could claim the same cultural and political inheritance is vivid testimony to neoclassicism's pervasiveness and flexibility.

By 1830 neoclassicism had evolved from a progressive style extolling ancient virtue and aesthetic reform while opposing luxury and decorative self-indulgence to become the chief expression of modern empire and military dictatorship. Increasingly identified with an academic pedagogy that many younger Romantic artists considered stifling and outdated, neoclassicism also was associated with conservatism and aristocratic privilege, principles it had challenged and partly overcome in its early phases. Neoclassicism's afterlife has included its adoption by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. It continues to be a rich source of forms and motifs for postmodern artists, architects, and designers.

See also Canova, Antonio ; Classicism ; David, Jacques-Louis ; Mengs, Anton Raphael ; Piranesi, Giovanni Battista ; Renaissance ; Republic of Letters ; Winckelmann, Johann Joachim .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Honour, Hugh. Neo-classicism. Rev. ed. Harmondsworth, U.K., 1991.

Irwin, David. Neoclassicism. London, 1997.

Praz, Mario. On Neoclassicism. Translated by Angus Davidson. Evanston, Ill., 1969.

Christopher M. S. Johns

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"Neoclassicism." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Neoclassicism." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/neoclassicism-0

"Neoclassicism." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/neoclassicism-0

Neoclassicism

NEOCLASSICISM

Neoclassicism is often termed simply classicism in Russia as, unlike those European countries which had experienced the Renaissance, Russia was exploring the classical vocabulary of ancient Greece and Rome for the first time. Classical motifs had appeared in Russia in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries but it was not until the 1760s that a coherent classical revival emerged, fueled by the work of scholars such as Johann Joachim Winckelmann, whose publications were generating a more comprehensive understanding of the forms and functions of classical art. The effect of this growing veneration for the noble grandeur of classical forms is evident in the Marble Palace (17681785) in St. Petersburg by Antonio Rinaldi, in which the flamboyant exuberance of the Baroque is partially displaced by a more dignified restraint. Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe also applied neoclassical principles in his design for the Academy of Arts (17651789), itself a prime conduit of European artistic debates. The low dome, rusticated basement, and giant order of columns and pilasters serve as a visual reminder of the classical ideal to which the Academy's students were expected to aspire.

During Catherine II's reign, neoclassicism flourished in the private sphere, notably in the work that the Scottish architect Charles Cameron under-took at Tsarskoye Selo after his arrival in Russia in 1779. Cameron, who greatly admired the studies of the antique by Andrea Palladio and Charles-Louis Clérisseau and had himself published drawings of Roman baths, decorated his interiors at Tsarskoye Selo with glass or ceramic columns and molded plaster reliefs inspired by recently-discovered classical sites. Cameron went on to work for Catherine's son Paul at Pavlovsk, where his Temple of Friendship (17801782) in the park correctly deployed the Greek Doric order for the first time in Russia. The classical revival was also gathering momentum in the work of the Italian architects Vincenzo Brenna and Giacomo Quarenghi, who had worked with the great neoclassical artist Anton Raphael Mengs in Rome. The Hermitage Theater (17831787), one of Quarenghi's masterpieces, is articulated with giant engaged Corinthian columns, niches, and statuary, while the great curved form of the auditorium is visible from the outside.

Russian as well as foreign architects were working in the neoclassical style. Vasily Bazhenov, who had studied abroad as one of the first two recipients of a travel scholorship from the Academy of Arts, designed an enormous new palace complex for the Moscow Kremlin in 1768. While never realized for financial reasons, it would have applied the language of classicism on a monumental scale. His contemporary Matvei Kazakov never studied abroad, as Bazhenov had done, but brought Moscow neoclassicism to its apogee in the Senate in the Kremlin (17761787). Like its near contemporary in London, William Chambers's Somerset House, the Senate building uses the authority of classical forms to signify power and public purpose.

Under Alexander I, neoclassicism, also known in this period as the Alexandrian or Empire style, became increasingly prominent in the public domain. Designed by the serf-architect Andrei Voronikhin, the Mining Institute (18061811) in St. Petersburg included a twelve-column Doric portico and pediment based on the Temple of Poseidon at Paestum, while Thomas de Thomon reconstructed the Stock Exchange (18051810) as a Greek temple. The most ambitious project was Adrian Zakharov's new Admiralty (18061823), in which strong geometric masses and classical ornamentation coexist with specifically Russian references. The great central pavilion is decorated with free-standing and low-relief sculptures and an open colonnade, and yet is topped by a golden spire which recalls that of the old Admiralty, while the frieze over the portal depicts Neptune presenting a trident to Peter the Great. These allegorical and structural references to the Russian past result in a distinctly national interpretation of the neoclassical style.

Not that the language of classicism was always suitable for Russian aims. The awkward proportions of the Cathedral of St. Isaac (18191859) by Auguste Montferrand is testimony to how disastrous some attempts to design an Orthodox church in a classical style could be. Far more successful during Nicholas I's reign is the work of Carlo Rossi, whose concern with entire architectural ensembles in St. Petersburg underlines his flair for the classical organization of space, for example in the streets, squares, and buildings that he designed to complement his Alexandrinsky Theatre (18281832), or in the General Staff Building (18191829), which completed Palace Square. This interest in town planning reverberated in provincial towns such as Odessa, where boulevards parallel to the cliff-top benefit from the dramatic views over the Black Sea.

Painting and sculpture made a less distinguished contribution to neoclassicism in Russia than architecture, but certain artists stand out. During the last quarter of the eighteenth century, Mikhail Kozlovsky produced some notable sculpture on classical themes, and his monument to General Suvorov portrayed the military leader rather improbably as an athletic young Mars. Ivan Martos, who had studied with Mengs in Rome, also attempted to invest his work with both Russian meanings and references to antiquity in his statue of Minin and Pozharsky (18041818) on Red Square, in which seventeenth-century heroes are clothed in a hybrid of classical tunics and the traditional Russian garb of long, belted shirts worn over trousers. Martos deployed the extravagant rhetorical gestures typical of much ancient sculpture, a device continued in Boris Orlovsky's statues of Marshal Kutuzov and Barclay de Tolly in front of the Cathedral of the Virgin of Kazan in St. Petersburg. On a more intimate note, Fyodor Tolstoy designed bas-relief sculptures reminiscent of the work of the English neoclassical sculptor John Flaxman, while his acclaimed portrait medallions commemorating the Napoleonic War filtered patriotic sensibilities through the classical tradition of coin and medal design.

In painting, Anton Losenko's Vladimir and Rogneda of 1770 initiated a tradition of depicting Russian historical subjects in the so-called Grand Manner, the approved Academic approach which drew heavily on the classical practice of idealization, by the nineteenth century academic history painters were expected to work in the neoclassical style. In Fyodor Bruni's painting Death of Camilla, the Sister of Horatio (1824), the classical hero, who has placed civic virtue above familial sentiment, strikes a suitably grandiloquent pose in the center of a composition arranged like a bas-relief. But the pictorial devices of neoclassicism were already being tempered by Romantic sensibilities, as is evident in Orest Kiprensky's Portrait of Alexander Pushkin (1827) and Karl Bryullov's The Last Day of Pompeii (18301833). Kiprensky may include a classical statuette in his portrait, and Bryullov may have chosen a classical subject, but the emphasis is now on the Romantic values of subjectivity and personal emotion, as opposed to the harmonic proportion and physical perfection of classical art.

See also: academy of arts; architecture; catherine ii; kremlin; moscow baroque

bibliography

Auty, Robert, and Obolensky, Dmitri, eds. (1980). An Introduction to Russian Art and Architecture. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Brumfield, William C. (1993). A History of Russian Architecture. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Kennedy, J. (1983). "The Neoclassical in Russian Sculpture." In Art and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Russia, ed. T. G. Stavrou. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Sarabianov, Dmitry. (1990). Russian Art from Neoclassicism to the Avant-Garde. London: Thames and Hudson.

Shvidkovsky, Dmitry. (1996). The Empress and the Architect: British Architecture and Gardens at the Court of Catherine the Great. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Rosalind P. Gray

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"Neoclassicism." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Neoclassicism." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/neoclassicism

Neo-Classicism

Neo-Classicism. Dominant styles in European and American art and architecture in the late C18 and early C19, essentially a return to the Classicism of Antiquity as the Italian Renaissance began to be perceived as offering architectural paradigms that were untrue to the Antique. Taste was also turning away from Baroque and Rococo, and moving towards a greater appreciation of the importance of archaeology and scholarship to arrive at an architecture that was more true to the spirit of Antiquity. Bodies such as the Society of Dilettanti of London began to sponsor scholarly and accurate publications dealing with architecture and antiquities, of which The Antiquities of Athens (from 1762) was one of the most important, and a major catalyst of that branch of Neo-Classicism we call the Greek Revival. Comprehensive excavations led to a huge number of publications dealing not only with Rome and Athens, but with the important Roman sites at Herculaneum and Pompeii, leading to the so-called Etruscan style, and contributing in no small measure to the Adam and Empire styles. Appreciation of the architecture of ancient and modern Rome was enhanced by Piranesi's engraved views published in Antichità Romane (1748), Della Magnificenza ed Architettura de'Romani (1761), and other works, and also promoted a taste for the Sublime because Piranesi made his subjects more impressive than they really were by greatly exaggerating their size. The primitive and the severe began to be explored, especially the baseless Doric Order of Ancient Greek architecture, which looked strange to eyes accustomed to the refinements of Palladianism. Promoted by Winckelmann, Greek art began to be taken seriously, first in studies of the temples at Paestum and Sicily, and then in Greece itself under the aegis of the Dilettanti by Stuart, Revett, and others, leading to the Doric Revival and the use of bold primitive forms in architectural composition. Theorists such as Cordemoy, Laugier, and Lodoli argued for a return to simplicity, rational design free from clutter and unnecessary ornament, and the use of the Orders for structural rather than decorative reasons. Furthermore, geometry was to be used for expressive purposes, enabling volumes, parts of buildings, and elements to be clearly seen and understood. Charles-Nicolas Cochin (1715–90) and and rome-Charles Bellicard (1726–86) brought out their Observations sur les antiquités de la ville d'Herculaneum (1753, 1754, 1756, 1757, 1758) which was influential in promoting Neo-Classical taste, while writers such as Le Roy and Peyre moved French architecture towards Ancient Greece for its inspiration and away from Rome. Robert Adam and Clérisseau published Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro (1768), drawing further attention to late-Roman Antique remains. While certain aspects of Neo-Classicism involved scholarly reproductions of Antique buildings and elements, as in the Greek Revival works by Stuart, Smirke, and Wilkins, the movement as a whole was not confined to copying (though accurate quotation was an integral part of it), but favoured clarity, stereometrical purity of form, and a lack of superfluous ornament or fussiness to evoke the Antique. This tendency can best be seen in the works of architects such as Boullée, Durand, Ehrensvärd, Gilly, Latrobe, Ledoux, Millar, Monck, and Soane. The publication of accurate surveys of Ancient Egyptian buildings from 1802 by Denon and the Commission des Monuments d'Égypte from 1809 brought further elements into the vocabulary of architects seeking stark, tough, forms (see egyptian revival). Neo-Classicism reached peaks of refinement in the hands of Empire designers such as Percier and Fontaine, and in architecture in the hands of von Klenze and Schinkel: it also enjoyed a C20 revival as a reaction to Neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau styles, often in very stripped, simplified form, notably in Scandinavia, Germany, and the USA (e.g. work by Asplund, Behrens, Burnham, Tony Garnier, Kampmann, Lewerentz, Loos, McKim, Mead, & White, Muzio, Perret, Petersen, Piacentini, Plečnik, Speer, Tessenow, and many others).

Bibliography

CoE (1972);
Crook (1972a);
J. Curl (2001, 2002a, 2005);
Honour (1977);
Jervis (1984);
Lampugnani (ed.) (1988);
Lewis & and Darley (1986);
Pariset (1974);
Pevsner (1968);
Summerson (1993);
Jane Turner (1996);
Traulos (1967);
Watkin & and Mellinghoff (1987)

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"Neo-Classicism." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Neo-classicism

Neo-classicism. Term applied to 20th-cent. mus. trend which developed in the 1920s, when several composers wrote works in 17th- and 18th-cent. forms and styles as a reaction against the excessive orchestration of the late 19th-cent. romantics. Prokofiev's Classical Symphony (1916–17) and R. Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos (1912) can be claimed as neo-classical, but the movt. began in earnest with Stravinsky (Capriccio for pf. and wind, pf. conc., Pulcinella, vn. conc., Oedipus Rex, etc.) and Hindemith. In Eng. Vaughan Williams's vn. conc. (orig. Concerto Accademico) of 1925 was neo-classical in style, though, because for most composers the model was Bach, neo-baroque might be a more accurate description. ( Prokofiev's Classical Symphony, being a pastiche of Haydn, is truly named.)

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neo-classicism

neo-classicism Movement in late 18th- and early 19th-century European art and architecture. Neo-classicism grew out of the Age of Enlightenment, whose exponents admired the order and clarity of ancient Greek and Roman art. The archaeological discoveries at Herculaneum and Pompeii, Italy, in the 1740s helped to stimulate interest in these ancient civilizations. Many of the movement's pioneers congregated in Rome, notably Johann Winckelmann, Canova, John Flaxman, Gavin Hamilton, and Bertel Thorvaldsen. The most powerful neo-classical painter was Jacques Louis David, whose work expressed great severity and grandeur. The concurrent Greek Revival involved, in architecture, imitating the simplicity of ancient Greek buildings.

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neoclassicism

neoclassicism the revival of a classical style or treatment in art, literature, architecture, or music. As an aesthetic and artistic style this originated in Rome in the mid 18th century, combining a reaction against the late baroque and rococo with a new interest in antiquity. In music, the term refers to a return by composers of the early 20th century to the forms and styles of the 17th and 18th centuries, as a reaction against 19th-century Romanticism.

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neoclassicism

neoclassicism: see classicism.

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"neoclassicism." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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