I don’t have a background in art. I’m not much of an artist myself. I don’t do much painting anymore, nor do I sculpt or draw. But just as you don’t have to play baseball to watch the Dodgers or play football to watch your local team, I love art despite not participating in the creation too heavily. So while I may not paint or draw, what I do is write–both here on TonyVanetik.net about my interest in art and art history, and on my other websites.
Without further adieu, Anartoly’s Art History will now take a small step forward to the Neoclassical era.
Putting to good use your undoubtedly impeccable knowledge of some general root words, you’ve probably surmised that the prefix attached to the word “neoclassicism” means “new.” However, as is the case with most every period of art I’ve covered thus far, neoclassic art is anything but new.
Born in the mid 18th century in Rome, Neoclassicism, as so many other periods of art have done, acted as a sort of call back to previous eras. In this case, those eras are Ancient Roman and Greek art. Conveniently, I’ve written about Ancient roman Art previously on TonyVanetik.net, so hop over there if you need to catch up a bit.
Despite being birthed in Rome, the Neoclassic period of art swept across the wide reaches of Europe, influencing art and artists through the 19th century, coinciding with the era of Romanticism, acting as both a complement and a competition for the style.
A Return to Rome
This callback to the artistic explosion of their forebears was not long on the people of the time, who wanted a counterculture movement to the likes of the Baroque and Rococo periods of the same time. Written off for their frivolity and over the top qualities, artists who preferred to adhere to the neoclassical form became recognized for the lack of emotion and return to what is often referred to as classical thought.
What It Looked Like
Sternness, boldness, and heroism were defining characteristics of neoclassical art. Often, the subjects of the pieces were historical in nature, crafted with fairly lower-key, somber tones in place of the bright colors and eclectic patterns of the other periods of the time.
The Grand Tour
Young, affluent men of this period were expected at some point in their lives to take a long tour of Europe, soaking in the culture and expanding personal horizons. As this was a fairly commonplace occurrence, it was natural that the booming of Neoclassic art at the time would be picked up and spread like wildfire due in part to the sheer number of people on the Grand Tour.