Neoclassicism is a Western cultural movement in architecture, music, theater, literature, and visual arts, which drew inspiration from the culture and arts of classical antiquity. The impact of this movement was profound in politics and religion as stimulated by the political revolutions and discoveries at Pompeii and several Greek and Roman ideas that emerged in the late 18th century Europe.

The first neoclassical movement corresponded with the 18th century Age of Enlightenment and continued into the early 19th century and competed with Romanticism. European neoclassicism in visual arts initially started to oppose the dominant Rococo architecture.

The Rococo style highlights asymmetry, ornamentation, and grace. At the same time, neoclassicism was based on the principles of symmetry and simplicity, which were displayed like the art virtues of Ancient Greece and Rome.

English settlers left for America in the early 1600s to escape religious persecution. In the 15th century, much of Europe adopted the beliefs of Roman Catholicism. Still, England decided to make its church is known as the Church England and required every English to become a member of this congregation.

The neoclassical movement was initially transported to North America from Great Britain. It influenced the arts, literature, ideas, and civil government from the eras of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and the 20th century.

The evolvement of engraved drawings, economical mass printing, and libraries led to the spread of neoclassical forms and standards throughout the Atlantic Ocean.

Neoclassicism left a wide range of furniture, buildings, sculptures, and paintings, which were freighted with original and radical forms. Before the 1830s, America did not have a sculpture tradition of its own except in the areas of ship figureheads, weathervanes, and tombstones.

America adopted the European neoclassical manner was taken there. It was subsequently used for decades, as exemplified in the sculptures of William Henry Rinehart, Randolph Rogers, Hiram Powers, Harriet Hosmer, and Horatio Greenough.

Unlike several forms of art, the neoclassical architecture was traditional, historical, and conservative but is modern, progressive, and new at the same time.

Other than the decorative art, neoclassicism also inspired a new government in America. The New World needed a new government, which resulted in the founding fathers of the United States to combine the ideas of the British monarchy and the learned Greco-Roman democracies of the past.

The founding fathers established a republican government based on Roman and Greek ideals in the late 18th century. Moreover, they also examined the mistakes of the Roman Empire and evaluated the reasons for its downfall to ensure that the same would not happen to the new American government.

Facts about Neoclassicism

  • Neoclassicism is exemplified in the decorative arts of the Capitol and the Washington Monument in Washington DC. The Washington Monument also symbolizes the fixture of Rome and Ancient Egypt.
  • Thomas Jefferson, Johann Winckelmann, and most of the classicists of the 18th century did not use the concept of neoclassicism to characterize the antique revival they were living through. Instead, the term neoclassicism is used to define the revalued antiquity and the multivalent cultural phenomenon from 1750 to 1900.
  • American interest in antiquity went beyond neoclassicism, encompassing the broader history of the Ancient Mediterranean, which included Persia, Egypt, Carthage, and Etruria.
  • American artists adopted neoclassicism for political and aesthetic reasons and the style developed through the revolutionary periods in the United States and France.
  • The concepts classicism and neoclassicism are often used together and usually mean harmony, elegance, and clearness.
  • English and American politicians regarded neoclassicism and Roman models of jurisprudence and law as the foundation of excellent achievement of liberalism and a civilized world from 1750 to 1900.
  • Neoclassicism was unique and focused on discipline, reason, and moral purpose.
  • Images of freedom like the Greek goddess of wisdom in battle, Athena can be seen in neoclassical art from Early America along with the typical red, white, and blue with stars that are now made accessible in the American flag.

Q & A:

Who brought neoclassicism to America?
Neoclassicism was brought to America by English people from Great Britain.

What are the main characteristics of neoclassicism?
The main characteristics of neoclassicism were traditional, historical, and conservative modern, progressive, and new at the same time.

How did neoclassicism influence America?
Neoclassicism influenced the American arts, literature, ideas, and civil government.

What is the main inspiration of the government of America?
The government of America was inspired by neoclassicism and borrowed principles from Roman law and jurisprudence.

How did neoclassicism in visual arts start?
Neoclassicism in visual arts started as a way of challenging the dominant Rococo architecture.