The art movement known as Neo Classicism, made it’s appearance in the 1750s. It was a reaction against Rococo: a lighter and more playful version of Baroque – associated with Louis XV of France. It emerged in the 1750s and was established by the 1770s. It was dedicated to static and harmonious revival in the arts.
Classicism or Neo-Classicism can also be seen as a state of mind within the arts. It emphasises an ideal: power or reason over emotion. It was seen to show restraint, moderation, clarity and respect for tradition which were attributes that were much admired. It was opposed to the somewhat frivilous, emotional content of Rococo. It was used to ‘instruct’ and relied on scholarship – so in this sense it was not for the working class.
Classicism and Romanticism are not opposed: one lends itself to the other. It was hailed as ‘the true style’, – the revival of the arts. It matured quickly and died quickly: a shortlived artistic phenomenon. It’s roots sprang from the unrest between the French Crown and the French aristocrats, and the churches the crown wanted to tax. The country had already seen the peasants revolt against the taxation of bread and grain, which had resulted in the storming of the Bastille (14th July 1789) and Versailles . But now a revolt between all classes overlapped.
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