J.L. David: Los lictores llevan a Bruto los cadáveres de sus hijos, 1789, (detalle).
J.L. David: Los lictores
llevan a Bruto los cadáveres
de sus hijos,
1789, (detalle).

  • Social frame:
          Falling of french Ancient Regime in 1789 Revolution was the result of the popular and middle classes oposition to a social and political system dominated by aristocracy. Illustrated bourgeoisie tried to win positions doing the criticism of a rotten world. From royal power a regeneration was intended. That is why voluptuous Rococo and its frivolity were seriously criticized. Diderot talks about a return to the equilibrium of ancient art.
         We can understand the necessity of a sober style in a France where social and political troubles were already difficult to suffer. Art’s aim was improving of civic virtue, moral, familiar harmony: the common good. Therefore Republican Rome was an example to imitate. Revolutionary men who tried to eliminate any sign of the Ancient Regime saw in Neoclasicism the defeat of aristocracy and their lounges. Neoclasicism extended until napoleonic period and Empire style: the new Emperor had necessity of an art of Caesars for the universe he tried to create.
         Rediscover of Classic Antiquity came with the help of important archaeological revelations. Herculanus and Pompeya, buried by Vesubian ashes, appeared in 1719 and 1748. Then a big archaelogical bibliography emerged, outstanding Winckelmann and his History of Antique Art. Stuard published Athenas Antiquities and Lessing, Laocoonte.
         Academies arise underlining authoritative values of classicism, rejecting Baroque and fighting for “Good Taste”. Exhaustion of Rococo streams created an aesthetical crisis that made possible imitation of Classical Antiquity rediscovered by archaelogists. The centre of Neoclasicism is France, but its influence came to all Europe and changed artistic fashions.

    Written by:
    Beatriz Aragonés Escobar.
    Licentiate in Art History

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