Neoclassical (1750–1850)


About the time

The British Empire is very powerful because it has a very strong navy and lots of colonies producing raw materials like cotton, tobacco and spices.  The American colonies are becoming more independent and do not want to be controlled by England anymore.  England is also fighting with France for land in America as well as India.  People took more trips to the "New World" to the South Pacific and Africa and the stage for a global empire was being built.

The "Enlightenment" also began during the time.  This originated in England and it was the idea that humans can know everything and that everything can be explained through scientific testing and reasoning.  John Locke, Voltaire, Alexander Pope and Diderot were all influential Enlightenment thinkers who developed this idea.  The American government actually takes a lot of Locke's ideas in that our government is designed to allow for people to have the freedoms to find out truth anyway they want by meeting with each other or practicing any religion they want.

The Art

Many of the philosophers during the Enlightenment looked at the work and ideas of Greek philosophers.  In looking at the ideas of the Ancient Greeks, the artists of the time were inspired by the art of Ancient Greece.  "Neoclassical" means "new" classical, so the art of this time period is similar to classical greek style with emphasis on human form and seriousness.  The artists took serious ancient stories and depicted them in a serious way.  They thought that a piece of art should teach a moral lesson, so their art is symbolic.

Many people were also getting rich off of trade, so they paid artists to paint flattering portraits of them.


Painters used oil on canvas and sculptors used marble.


Jacques Luis David  (jahk lu-ees da-veed)

Oil on canvas  “Death of Socrates”

Socrates, a Greek philosopher, was sentenced to death (by poison) for convincing young people that asking questions about authority was a good idea.  He was charged with corrupting the youth and also received anti-religious charges for questioing/challenging the Gods.  This piece of art has the moral that you should always question the world and be willing to die for what you believe in.


"Oath of Horatii"     Straight lines, classical posture.  The three sons of Horatius are making a promise (or oath) to their father to protect Rome until the death.





Ingres (Ahng)

Grand Odalisque

Oil on canvas

Her back is waaaay too long.  Notice the detail in the fabric and how realistic it looks.  This painting was commissioned by Napoleon's sister.





During this time period rich people had painters paint portraits of them.  Portraits were usually flattering (making people look better than they actually did), and fabric was extremely important.


People wanted to show off how rich they were, so they had their best jewelry, best dress, best household items included in the paintings.  The fabrics the people wore for their portraits were the best quality, so the artist that could make the fabrics most realistic got chosen to paint portraits more often.


















Oil on canvas in a round frame.

More protraits but of women and children. Fair skin and blush (rich people). Also, his people have weird necks.  They look like they're sticking their chins out.

A Young Peasant Boy, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze



The White Hat




“Cupid and Psyche”  marble






Review Test


Go to the Review Test Page and click on the "Baroque" review test.  FIll in the answer sheet with the answers and turn it in to Ms. Allekotte for a grade.


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