Historical Art Periods (Neoclassic and Rococo)

Historical Art Periods (Neoclassic and Rococo)





Historical Art Periods (Neoclassic and Rococo)

Historical Placing and Artistic Characteristics

Art history is commonly understood as the study of an art object especially as concerned with historical development of and stylistic context for instance genre, design, format, and style (Preziosi, 2009). The main parts of art include architecture, painting, scultpture, ceramics and other decorative objects.

Neoclassicism is used as an indication of movements in decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre and architecture. This movement spread widely and was very influential particularly in painting and other visual arts that were established in the late 1760s to early 1780s lasting up to 1850s (Lee, 2011). Neoclassic art was established due to the increasing desire of the new and more scientific interest in classical antiquity that resulted in the eighteenth century. On the other hand, Rococo is an art style that primarily was concerned with decoration and was established during the eighteenth century focusing mostly on interior decoration and ornaments fashioning. However, the style was also applied to some sculptures, paintings, and furniture and architectural details by extension. Rococo was known to be a style of extreme fashion although with less popular forms. Neoclassic style was developed as a reaction and elaboration of the Rococo style. According to history, these two styles of art occurred after Baroque, which was one of the most impressive times in art history.

Rococo style was characterized by asymmetry, curved lines and ornamental shapes. In most cases, this style of art utilized soft, pastel colors as a contrast to dark colors of the Baroque period (Preziosi, 2009). Therefore, Rococo style illustrated itself mainly in small-scale interior designs, paintings, furniture and porcelains. After the eighteenth century, Neoclassic was established as a response to the elaboration and lightness of the Rococo style focusing mainly on proportional and simple forms. Neoclassic focused on the theme of stoicism and heroism thereby being characterized by symmetry and clean lines. Although emotions are viewed in this style, it is restrained and controlled more than in the Rococo style. Neoclassic art style utilized colors that were sharper than those in the Rococo art were. Artists within the Neoclassic era emphasized on technical protection, harmony and balance.

Social Conditions Surrounding the Art Styles

The Neoclassic style may have been established as a backlash against the newer schools of architecture that got famous in the early eighteenth century. Research shows that the Neoclassic style was as an outcome of an aching nostalgia stemming from a lost world of archicture that motivated pride and strength especially to Classical Greek and Roman architecture. The earliest Rococo style was established as a response against the oppressive formalities of the French as noted within the Classical Baroque period (Lee, 2011).

Later Historical Period, Characteristics of the Styles, and Social Conditions

During the later period of historical art regarding the Neoclassic style, changes were noted though the embracing of different and opposite characters of Romanticism. This implies that a good number of paintings under the Neoclassic styles portrayed much of the Romantic tendencies (Lee, 2011). The style comprises various characteristics such as order, symmetry and simplicity of style. Therefore, a revival in the architecture as well as art tried to avoid emotional subjects and to embark on the style of the pre-Romantic artists. During the eighteenth century, the Rococo art style mainly focused on demonstrating the carefree life of the aristocracy instead of the heroes. Nevertheless, from the beginning of the nineteenth century, the concept of Rococo art style was accepted by art historians and thus permitting the stress on pure ornaments, casual light and irregular designs.

Additionally, the style focused on love and romance as the best art subjects in terms of themes in contrast to other subjects especially those concerning religious or historical subjects. During the latter period, the Rococo style was characterized by a free, graceful movement, a playful use of line as well as delicate colors. The social condition that may have contributed to this style of art involves the need to emphasize the reign of King Louis XV. The larger societies in Paris became fashionable following the rise of the middle class (Lee, 2011). Therefore, Rococo was established as a result of the new era of thought since the region had left behind the formality of earlier years and started to pursue personal amusement and happiness. With Neoclassic having been established after the Rococo period, it spread within the same communal setting in a bid to address the indentified issues present within the given society.

Similarities between the Historical Art Periods

Both earlier and later historical Rococo and Neoclassical art periods are all known to have been very influential in the field of art and design that was developed in these times. During these two periods, art was viewed as a prominent factor especially in terms of people’s lifestyles. For instance, research shows that the French rich elites in the palace of Versailles used the decorative styles of Rococo that was popular until the beginning of the French revolution when the need to go back to Roman and Greek motivated designs resulted into the truthful period of Neoclassic (Preziosi, 2009). Therefore, the Neoclassic period acquired various ideas like line and color application from its predecessor, the Rococo era.

The purpose of continuing traditions acquired within earlier historical art periods are hinged on the fact that the styles are viewed as lighthearted and extremely entertaining in terms of idea generation instance, precisely the Rococo art style. This therefore, is important because it meets the desires and high demands of the wealthy elites. The continuous use earlier historical art periods is also supported by the need to put back virtue into art as well as maintaining the historical art styles. Therefore, in addition to the entertainment aspect, continuity was also embedded on the ability to meet and satisfy the needs of the people.

During the latter years, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres painted an example of Neoclassic art known as the Apotheosis of Homer, which represented the belief in a hierarch of timeless values that focus on Classical precedents (Milam, 2011). Another example of earlier historical art includes the tapestries that were designed by Boucher for royal and nobility usage within the French elite. The latter work relates with the earlier work because they all promote artwork though meeting and addressing the desires of various people. Note that, the latter work is noted as a continuation of the earlier work only that one offers a modification of the historical style towards fulfilling areas where the earlier work may have failed in artistry terms. Therefore, it can be noted that each historical art period had its unique ways that influence the growth of art within latter periods in many ways. For instance, the cultures and societies of the earlier period had a direct relationship with art and characteristics that later become popular during subsequent art periods.

Historical Significances of the Latter Historical Art Periods on the Art World

Through the latter historical art periods, artist learned to represent the human form in a more natural and easy way whether in action or at rest since most problems had been solved by the preceding artists during the earlier periods. Therefore, the art had a great influence within the subsequent and present art world through the expression of greater and noble ideas and emotions for decorations and ostentation (Milam, 2011). Current artists in the art world acquired various elements from the latter art period into their own work, for instance, in painting the art world learned from the latter historical art the need for originality as a form of innovation within the subject. Therefore, the latter historical art period helped the world art in various ways that led to growth and development of the art in general.




Lee, P. (2011). Historical Dictionary of Neoclassical Art and Architecture. New York, NY: Scarecrow Press.

Milam, J. (2011). Historical Dictionary of Rococo Art. New York, NY: Scarecrow Press.

Preziosi, D. (2009).The art of art history: a critical anthology. Oxford, CA: Oxford University Press.

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