Neoclassicism and the Enlightenment Essay

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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
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The pettiness of these movements had
created a backlash and these thinkers and art critics welcomed the
harsher and more ordered Neoclassical style as they began to swing the
art pendulum in the opposite direction.

One of the primary causes in the rise of Neoclassicism in the
mid-eighteenth century was the expansion of what was previously called
a classical education. By 1750 Italian tourism was already a full
blown industry, with guides and guidebooks circulating throughout
Europe. As a part of any young man's education, he now had to make the
artistic tour of Italy, especially Florence, Rome, and Naples. 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…