Essay on Art History

506 Words 3 Pages
In the early 1700s, the monarchies failures at finance, national debt, involvement in multiple wars with little care given to veterans and rising unemployment inflamed the people. When coupled with the monarchies lifestyles of lavish spending on countless mistresses, flouting morals, excessive parties at court, and political favors, the popularity of royalty was quickly disintegrating. The irresponsibility of the aristocracy was no longer ignored, and a movement was beginning. This set the stage for political change.

Writers such as Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and John Locke (1632-1704) of England experienced these changes and began exploring the ideals of republicanism and liberalism through their writing. Thus,
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It did not take long for the ideas to spread through Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the American Colonies. The American Revolution began in 1775, and Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense in January of 1776. Voltaire who had written thousands of letters, books, and pamphlets finished his “Dictionnaire Philosophique in 1764, and the French Revolution began in 1789.
As these social, political, and moral views changed, so too did the style the arts used to communicate life. It was during this Age of Enlightenment that the Neoclassical era in art history began by reflecting these changing views using a style much less ornate and gilded than the Baroque and Rococo styles that had previously dominated artistic endeavors. Strict adherence to simple classical style with an aim to technical perfection was favored and borrowed heavily from Greek and Roman pieces discovered earlier in the 1700s. Art was approached with the same logic and reason of the age and with much less emotion and drama than Baroque or Rococo.
The subject matter was often dark and serious, morally and ethically upright, or heroic. Where the aristocracy had valued drama, emotion, and grandeur, the people now valued self-denial and self-sacrifice over self-indulgence. The colors were often dark or solemn and made use of chiaroscuro,

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