NeoClassicism and Romanticism 1740-1850

These two styles of painting were considered enemies. One wanted to portray the absolute truth
of life and the other wanted to depict reality through images of the wild and raw emotions that
prevailed after the Revolution. A vast gulf existed between them and the debate was often long
and bitter, but in the end Romanticism emerged as the dominant style of this period.

Neoclassicism was born out of a rejection of the Rocco and late Baroque styles in the middle of
the 18th century. These artists wanted a style that could convey serious moral ideas such as
justice, honor, and patriotism. The movement was a profoundly educational one, for its devotees
believed that the fine arts could and should spread knowledge and enlightenment.

Romanticism began in the same era but its approach had to do with the modern rather than the
antique. It was about wildness and expression rather than control. Romantic artists had no fixed
laws relating to beauty and properties of subject matter. Instead, Romanticism was a creative
outlook, a way of life.

from MyStudios

Neoclassicism: keyword:REASON Romanticism: keyword: PASSION
Nature is defined as human nature Nature is defined as natural environment (woods, mountains, etc)
Society more important than individual Individual more important than society
Imitation Originality
Tradition Experimentation
Rules and order Freedom
Mechanical form (imposed from outside) Organic form (growing from inside)
Logic Intuition
Reason Imagination, Emotion
Attempted objectivity Accepted subjectivity
Town or cultivated landscape Country, preferably untouched nature
Constraint Spontaneity
Conformity Independence, Rebellion
Cultivated, formal, social the primitive becomes focus
Jacques-Louis David: Paris & Helen, 1788 Antonio Canova: Cupid & Psyche, 1793 JMW Turner, The Slave Ship, 1840 Antoine Wiertz, The Reader of Novels, 1853