Lesson 19: Neoclassical Art

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What You Will Learn:

  • Explore All Art Movements and Periods

    You will learn about all the leading art movements and periods, such as primitive art, ancient Greek art, the Renaissance, Romanticism, Impressionism, Modernism, and contemporary art. There is also a lot of attention to non-Western art, such as Islamic Art, Hindu Art, Chinese Art, Oceanic Art and African Art, and the globalization of the art world.

  • All Famous Artists and Their Masterpieces

    The course covers important artists like Sultan Muhammad, Fan Kuan, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Utagawa Hiroshige, Vincent van Gogh, Ilya Repin, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Banksy and many more, and discusses their most influential works.

  • Cultural and Historical Context

    Our courses also focus on the study of the cultural, social, political, and economic contexts in which artworks are created.

  • Various Media and Techniques

    You will explore different art forms and techniques, such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and digital art.

Introduction to this course:


From 1760, but certainly after the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, there was a reaction to the opulent appearance of the Baroque buildings. In architecture, there was a return to the old, familiar, and stricter Greek and Roman forms. Hence, this new direction was called the neoclassical style, a style that predominated especially in the construction of spacious homes for the wealthy and in public buildings. Just like during the Renaissance, the artists wanted to return to the basic principles of ancient Greek art and Roman art with their artworks.

Het ruiterstandbeeld van Lodewijk XIV dat sinds 1835 het Place bellecour in Lyon domineert
Image: The equestrian statue of Louis XIV (1638-1715), the Sun King, which dominates Place Bellecour in the French city of Lyon. It was cast in 1825 by the French sculptor François-Frédéric Lemot (1772-1827) in the neoclassical style. The equestrian statue of Louis XIV is 18 meters high and was the largest bronze statue of its time. The classic features are visible everywhere, including in the way the horse stands, the Roman clothing, the sword in the scabbard on his left hip, and the laurel wreath on the head of the Sun King.
Location: This equestrian statue is located on Place Bellecour in the center of the French city of Lyon. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.


The same was true for the period 1650 to 1720 when the ancient Greek and Roman vocabulary perfectly matched the prevailing philosophy of the Enlightenment, in which ‘reason’, the mind, was seen as the most important expression of man, as well as clarity and simplicity. This period was called classicism and developed at the same time as the baroque.

Het classisitische landgoed Oldengaerde uit het jaar 1717.Image: The 15th-century Oldengaerde Estate in the Drenthe village of Westeinde near Dwingeloo. This estate was renovated in the style of classicism in 1717. The classicist style is recognizable by the clean lines, the tympanum in the front facade, and the half-columns with Ionic capitals against the front facade. These half-columns are also called pilasters and were, for example, also used by the baroque sculptor Bernini on the facades of St. Peter’s in Rome.
Location: The Oldengaerde Estate is located in the village of Westeinde (Westeinde 57-59) near Dwingeloo, situated in the province of Drenthe in the Netherlands. ©Ronnie Rokebrand.

A well-known building in the Dutch classicist style in the Netherlands is the Royal Palace on Dam Square in Amsterdam.

Het neoklassieke schilderij `Het stadhuis op de Dam,' uit 1672 van Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde van
Image: The classicist town hall on Dam Square in Amsterdam, painted by the artist Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde (1638-1698) in 1672. Today, it functions as the Royal Palace on Dam Square and serves as the reception area for the royal family. The building exemplifies Dutch Classicism, yet it already carries features of the subsequent Neoclassical style, such as the clean lines, the projecting front, and the triangular tympanum with sculpture above the central part of the building. It was designed and built under the leadership of Jacob van Campen from 1648 to 1655. The town hall symbolized the power of the regents, the rulers of the city of Amsterdam. With this, the city presented itself as the center of power in the Netherlands and the rest of the world. Notably absent is a grand platform and a wide staircase for a king’s entrance. Instead, the building contains seven small arches forming the entrance to the town hall, so everyone entered on equal footing.
Location: This painting of the town hall in Amsterdam, now the Royal Palace on Dam Square, hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

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