Western Painting – Neo-Classicism and Its Mystic Magic

December 1st, 2011 Posted in Art History

Neo-Classicism – The Concept

Neo-Classicism is the tag given to a distinct Western Classical Artistic talents and cultural movements, evident in different art genres, such as decorative, literary, musical, visual art, theatre, etc. Neo-Classicism, a European style beginning in 1765 AD, was very prominent in the eighteenth & nineteenth centuries, and had Ancient Roman, Greek, & Renaissance Classist influences. In essence, Neo-Classicism was a creative counter to Baroque and Rococo. A painting that has gained the ‘Canonic’ status represents Neo-Classicism. The standard of the artwork is very high and a typical Neo-Classical painter tries to give a new feel to the art forms, while exhibiting the complete control of an expression. Today, architecture is the frontrunner of Neo-Classicism, with the US and Britain being the key builders.

Neo-Classicist Examples

o The French painter Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) was the first successful Neo-Classical artist, who derived his themes from the Medieval History and the great French Revolution. His “The Death of Socrates” (1787), one of the iconic Neo-Classicist works is presently housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

o Jean August Dominique Ingres (1780-1867) succeeded him. Artists worldwide loved Ingres’ famous artworks, including “La Comtesse d’Haussonville portrait.” The touch of romance and subtle Eroticism are also demonstrated in his paintings, the “The Turkish Bath” and “The Virgin of the Host.”

o Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (1802-1873), a highly acclaimed English Victorian Neo-Classicist painter’s art works are housed in many prestigious museums and galleries in the US and the UK. His Neo-Classical masterpiece, the “Duchess of Abercorn and her Daughter” (1834), is housed in the Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire, UK. “There’s No Place Like Home” is a lovely painting of a dog reclining near the heart, which presently graces the Victoria and Albert Museum of London.

o August Anton Tischbein (1801- 1877), a German Neo-Classicist’s Trieste (1858), is currently housed in the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, Spain.

Neo-Classicism – The Details

Most of such Neo-Classical Western Paintings were oil on canvas works and subtle colors were used to portray strong emotions. Initially, Neo-Classical Paintings were all about fixed, ideal, and solemn tones. Later, with the arrival of the Romantic Movement in France, Neo-Classist paintings gave vent to personal expressions and inert sensuality. The Neo-Classical style can also be seen in the seventeenth century furniture and decorative artworks. Neo-Classicism was the pulse of the art forms during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, but it called for great discipline and intellectual approach towards depicting intense human emotions, activities, or historic scenes.

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