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Neoclassicism and the Enlightenment.

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Dustin Brucher May 1, 2002 Dr. Gunkel Hist. 414 Neoclassicism and the Enlightenment The Enlightenment was a time of great innovation and evolution. One of the most significant movements which owes at least the majority of its beginnings to the Enlightenment is the architectural and artistic movement of Neoclassicism. This Neoclassicism of the mid eighteenth to mid nineteenth centuries is one that valued ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan artistic ideals. These ideals, including order, symmetry, and balance, were considered by many European generations to be the highest point of artistic excellence. Although many movements in European art were largely devoid of classical characteristics, they were always looked to as sources of inspiration and were revived as significant movements at least three times throughout European history, in the twelfth century, during the Renaissance, and during the age of the present topic, the Enlightenment, with its development of Neoclassicism. There are several events and movements within the Enlightenment that contributed to the rise of Neoclassicism. The expansion, evolution, and redefinition of the European standard classical education was one of the greatest causes, as well was the then recent archeological discoveries of Pompeii and Herculaneum. ...read more.


This was not just a quick visit to a couple museums; rather, it was a lengthy, often times more than a year, and in-depth study of the rich trove of art that these cities had to offer. It was supplemented with classes and lectures at the museums and time taken after these to sketch or paint these precious works to take home. The proliferation of these sketches would compound and any aspiring artist was also then required to study these works. The increased influence and awareness of Greek and Roman art in the studies of the developing artists would soon begin to show in their designs. One of the most significant reasons that a renewed interest in Italy has arisen was the recently found sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The excavation of these sites revealed massive amounts of new information about the Roman's everyday life, and it astonished those who read about or visited these sites. They also found a large number of new sculptures and wall paintings, whetting the appetite of a steadily increasing number of tourists for this type of art. The study of Roman and Greek art had been a staple throughout European civilization, but with the discovery of these new ...read more.


From the 1750s until the 1790s the movement of Neoclassicism in England was popularly called the "Age of Adam."3 This was the beginning of the first major push in Neoclassical architecture, developed further in France by LeDoux and Boull´┐Że. Although indirect at points, the Enlightenment clearly had a major impact on the reformation of classical ideal in art and architecture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The balance, contrast, and solidarity in Jaques-Louis David's Oath of the Horatii or the sense of order and feeling in Raft of the Medusa could only have been present if the thinkers of the age had raised the bar on education and advanced science to where it was possible to excavate the entire buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum as well as have enough insight to derive all the information from these finds. It also could not have been possible without the violent reaction to the pettiness of the preceding Baroque and Rococo forms. Neoclassicism was the dominant art form through a turbulent period in history. It influenced and weathered several national revolutions and international wars and because of its strength and balance, perhaps the era was made all the stronger because of the art and architecture that was the backdrop for the action of the age. ...read more.

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