The Enlightenment: Neoclassical Art and Architecture

The Enlightenment
Neoclassical Art
The Age of Reason
Enciclopedists /
Reason -- a perfect
society built on
common sense and
Truth dispersing the shadows of
Think back on the
baroque and work
out a definition of the
What does the term
Neoclassical evoke
for you?
Chiswick House,
St. Martin in the
Fields, London
Prado Museum, Madrid
Royal Palace, Madrid
Royal Naval College, Greenwich
This painting demonstrates the geometry and subordination of nature that garden architects
used to construct gardens in the 17th century. This is an artist's view of Versailles, as
constructed by Le Notre, a famous garden architect.
Scottish architect Colen Campbell, Mereworth Castle, Kent, 1722-25
The gardens of Château Villandry
Garden, Alcázar, Sevilla
Order and Harmony
Simplicity of shape and exactness of proportion
Society and Utopianism
Ordering creation
Intellectual rather than emotional or spiritual
Restraint, good sense, decorum, good taste,
Rococo to Neoclassical (1760-1840/50)
As symmetry was gradually introduced into the
lavish ornamental motifs of the Rococo style, so
the Neoclassicist ideas slowly began to spread.
The new aesthetic revealed a reaction against the
excesses of Rococo ornamentation in favour of
what was seen as the noble simplicity of antiquity.
Many Neoclassical ideas were founded in the
scientific ideals of the French Encyclopaedists,
who believed in the enhancement and promotion
of public morality through art.
Music room of Frederick
II (the Great), Sans
Souci Palace in Potsdam
The Embarkation for Cythera by Antoine Watteau
Pilgrimage to Cythera by Antoine Watteau 1717
Detail of
Classical history and
mythology provided a
large part of the subject
matter of Neoclassical
Jean-Baptiste Regnault
Liberty or Death
Joseph-Marie Vien
Young Greek
Maidens Decking
the Sleeping Cupid
with Flowers
Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)
Most prominent and influential
painter of the Neo-classical
movement in France.
In the 1780s he created a style
of austere and ethical painting
that captured the moral climate
of the last years of the ancien
As an active revolutionary, he
put his art at the service of the
new French Republic and for a
time was virtual dictator of the
He was imprisoned after the fall
from power of Maximilien de
Robespierre but on release
became captivated by the
personality of Napoleon I
Portrait of the Artist
The Death of Seneca 1773
"The artist must be a philosopher and have
no other guide except the torch of reason."
— J.-L. David
Charles Louis de Secondat
Noble background
Educated in science and
Became a lawyer
Considered, along with
John Locke, as the
ideological co-founder of
the American Constitution
Masterpiece: The
Spirit of the Laws
(1748), considers:
Felt Republic was best
Montesquieu’s Thought
"Montesquieu advocated constitutionalism, the preservation of civil
liberties, the abolition of slavery, gradualism, moderation, peace,
internationalism, social and economic justice with due respect to
national and local tradition. He believed in justice and the rule of law;
detested all forms of extremism and fanaticism; put his faith in the
balance of power and the division of authority as a weapon against
despotic rule by individuals or groups or majorities; and approved of
social equality, but not to the point which it threatened individual
liberty; and out of liberty, but not to the point where it threatened to
disrupt orderly government."
Sir Isaiah Berlin
Against the Current
Persian Letters (1721)
First work to gain him fame
Epistolary form
correspondence between Usbek (Persian
aristocrat) and younger companion Ricca
traveling in France
and friends, Usbek’ wives, or eunuchs
Oliver Goldsmith
Born in the Irish village of
Pallas, near Glasson on Nov. 10,
1730. Father was an Anglican
Studied theology, law, and
medicine in turn
`The Citizen of the World',
published in 1762, won the
attention of Samuel Johnson
Died after a short illness in the
spring of 1774
His epitaph, by Johnson,
includes the famous line:
Nullum quod tetigit non ornavit
(He touched nothing that he did
not adorn).
Major Works
The Citizen of the World ( 1760-61 ). Goldsmith
puts criticism of English society into the letters
written by a fictional Chinese gentleman, Lien Chi
The Traveler ( 1764 ). The traveler-narrator fails
to find happiness abroad and concludes that it is to
be found in one's own mind: " Our own felicity we
make or find. "
The Vicar of Wakefield ( 1766 ).
The Deserted Village ( 1770 ). Nostalgic poem
about the passing of a simpler, happier, rural past.
The Life of Richard Nash ( 1762 ). Beau Nash,
Master of Ceremonies at Bath, was an institution
in Eighteenth Century England.
She Stoops to Conquer ( 1773 ).
When reading, think about:
What Montesquieu and Goldsmith
criticizes and why?
Why do they use the epistolary form?
Why does he use Persian/Chinese travelers
in Europe?
How are the Persians/Chinese

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