Neoclassicism was a movement in the eighteenth century. As the name suggests, it was a revival of the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures.

Throughout the movement, until Romanticism, there was an emphasis on order, serenity, rationality, wit, the ability to speak eloquently, fluently and with strezzatura. There was a major focus on art, music and literature.

As far as painting is concerned, there is a silent beauty and serenity portrayed throughout the paintings of the 18th century. Monsieur David’s painting, the Oath of the Horatii

Oath of the Horatii
Oath of the Horatii

is a classic example. There are many more beautiful and prominent paintings from this time period.

Sculpture was moving away from the curly, extravagant style of the baroque period, and was moving towards more serene simplicity.

There was a revival of the ancient architecture, especially in America. Look at the U.S. Capitol building. The first bank looks like the Parthenon.

Literature progressed rapidly. Samuel Johnson was a moral essayist, poet, biographer of poets, and author of Rasselas. He wrote the first dictionary of the English language.

The novel was developed at this time period. A classic example is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Neoclassicism is very serene and beautiful. It is simple and with order. It contains rationality and wit. It is an enlightened stage in European history.


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