Characteristics Of Neoclassicism To Know

Characteristics Of Neoclassicism To Know

What Is Neoclassicism?

The neoclassicism was an art movement that originated in France in the seventeenth century, although its heyday was presented at the XVIII centuries. This century is known as “The century of lights”. This period marks a change between the old regime and the new liberal characteristics.

During this period an event takes place that marked an important change both socially and politically and economically. This event was the French Revolution in 1789. With this revolution, the monarchy lost power and subsequently disappeared.

Characteristics Of Neoclassicism To Know
Characteristics Of Neoclassicism To Know

Through the movement of neoclassicism, the entire French Revolution can be seen as well as the context that gave rise to that revolution and the Napoleonic period. These artists tried to change the sensuality of the previous artistic movements: the Rococo and the Baroque. Thus the neoclassicism has a logical characteristic and not overloaded like the previous one.

Towards the end of the 18th century, the neoclassicism movement gives rise to romanticism, based on the feeling, individuality, and freedom that had its point of greatest impact towards the 19th century.

Characteristics Of Neoclassicism

Enlightened Thinking

Illustrated thinking was the forerunner of the French Revolution. It is a group of intellectuals who began to raise awareness of the French people. Thus its main axes were: reason, progress, and science. They also put aside ecclesiastical ideas (mainly Catholicism). The enlightened proposed:

  • A unique law for citizens
  • Deletion of monarchical privileges
  • Rights and equality for all

The French Revolution

French Revolution – Bourgeois Revolutions

During the reign of Louis XIV, France met a monarchical government in which the figure of its king and the nobility ruled the people. When Louis XV arrived (great-grandson of Louis XIV) the economic situation in France was already in a crisis as a result of bad governance.

Then this crisis increased even more during the reign of Louis XVI (it worsened for the people, not for the monarchy who lived among luxuries, wealth and waste), who decides to raise taxes. But the people, starving and thanks to the enlightened, decided to go knock on the doors of the kingdom to ask for food from the King.

Faced with this situation, the monarchy did not hear the requests of the people and it rose in arms. Thus, on July 14, 1789, “The Take the Bastille”, a symbol of the absolutist regime, was performed. Thus the Kings and the nobility were taken as prisoners. Then they were slaughtered by establishing a new social order run by the bourgeoisie and based on trade.

Characteristics Of Neoclassicism To Know
Characteristics Of Neoclassicism To Know

Social Transformation Of Neoclassicism

Both painting, sculpture, architecture and literature make up a block that expresses, each with different characteristics the social context that France was going through in those years. Thus, the breakdown of the monarchy and the change in social structures accompanied by the modification of customs was reflected in this artistic movement.


The style that goes through this movement is that of simplicity, aesthetics and symmetry. On the other hand, neoclassicism uses reason and skepticism to the detriment of feelings. Therefore, the works of this artistic period reflect real issues, experiences and situations that the society of that time had to face.


It is an art that is committed and expresses the political, social and economic situation of the time. From literature, the works have a strong moralizing and didactic orientation. However, not everything is reason and logic for neoclassicism, since mythology and the figure of the Gods as supreme power also appear among its main themes.

Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter
Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter