Free Essay

Rococo vs. Neoclassical Art

In: English and Literature

Submitted By scorpionchic84
Words 1044
Pages 5

Rococo vs. Neoclassical Art
Karina Smith
Western Governors University
November 25, 2013

Rococo vs. Neoclassical Art Periods
Over the years, works of art have developed and varied greatly across genres and time periods. From the cave paintings of the Paleolithic era to the abstract expressionism and Pop Art of the 21st century, we have seen styles of art evolve and develop. These styles and periods of art sometimes reflect past artists and styles and other times introduce an era of completely new art genres and styles. Two different art periods that succeeded each other is rococo and neoclassicism. Rococo is a style of art that began in the early to mid-18th century and was closely followed by the neoclassical art movement.
Rococo art originated in France in the early 18th century and was itself an evolution of the earlier style of baroque art. Rococo art emphasized elaborate, detailed, and ornamental elements in sculpture and architecture, and more realistic representations in paintings. Coming off the era of baroque art, which was very much influenced by religion and endorsed by the Catholic Church, rococo art thrived in a time where secularism was becoming a more dominant theme in social attitudes. This Age of Enlightenment saw a shift toward loosened morals and a light-heartedness in the social climate that was, in turn, reflected in the art of that time period. Some characteristics of Rococo art is light, airy colors and delicate, curling themes. In fact, the root word for rococo comes from the French word “rocaille” meaning “shell work” (MindEdge, 3.16). The subjects of Rococo art were usually people depicted in a light-hearted manner and frequently contained themes of indirect eroticism, or elements of love and romance, such as cherubs.
Following this art period, a new art movement emerged: Neoclassicism. In contrast to the way rococo art developed, basically as an evolution of the style before it, neoclassicism was a totally new and different era. Neoclassicism saw a revival of classical styles and influence from ancient Greek and Roman art, architecture, theatre, and literature (MindEdge, 3.17 ). This neoclassicism art movement borrowed many elements and themes, not only from earlier societies, but also from earlier art periods such as the Renaissance. The social climate during this time was much more somber and realistic. Coming off the American and French revolution, artists shifted their attitudes toward art from light and airy themes and colors to a more serious dark tone with a move toward political themes and subjects. Neoclassical artists used a lot of sharp colors, employed techniques such as chiaroscuro, which contrasts light and dark shading to achieve the illusion of depth (MindEdge, 3.17), and generally depicted realistic characters in bold colors against dark backdrops.
There are more differences than similarities between these two art periods. In the same way that rococo art sought to do away with the baroque paintings and their religious themes of saints, the divine, and religious iconography by focusing on fantasy and the pleasures of life, the neoclassical artists tried to distance themselves from the detached characteristics of rococo art. As a result, the two main elements that shaped neoclassicism turned out to be wistfulness and the romantic sentiments of discarding the current social problems. These factors resulted in the striking differences between these two styles of art.
An example of the differences in artwork styles is seen when comparing the rococo work of art The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, and the Neoclassical masterpiece Oath of the Horatii by Jacques-Louis David. The Swing features delicate, coiling tree branches, many curves evident in the ruffles and lace on the subject’s dress, and the techniques of light and shadows. The subject matter is also typical of rococo art and depicts a woman allowing her concealed lover a peek under her dress as her husband stands oblivious in the background. All those characteristics, the techniques, colors, and subject matter are visual trademarks of the rococo style. In contrast, Oath of the Horatii presents the subjects in a much more realistic manner using dark shadows and bold colors in the foreground. The subjects in this painting are just as divergent as the style and techniques of the two artworks. Depicted in this painting are three brothers taking their swords from their father, and in doing so, making an oath to defend Rome demonstrating civic loyalty and self-sacrifice (MindEdge, 3.18). The political theme in this painting exemplifies the characteristics of neoclassical art and is a classic demonstration of the shift in social attitudes during that period. The nature of the two paintings, including the characters portrayed and the stories they tell, could not be more different, yet they provide a striking example of the shift from the prevalent rococo art toward neoclassicism, as well as, the social attitudes that accompanied it.
Neoclassicism went on as the leading art movement and preceded romanticism, which was yet another shift away from the classically inspired art styles and an early 19th century response to the restraints of neoclassicism (MindEdge, 3.18). Regardless, we still see the effects of neoclassical influence around us in modern times. Such American landmarks as the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. and the American Museum of Natural History’s Roosevelt Memorial are manifestations of lingering neoclassical style in our world today. In the 21st century neoclassicism has also seen somewhat of a revival with some public buildings in the United States being built in the neoclassical style as recent as 2006, for example, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tennessee (“Art 101”, 2011).
In conclusion, we can see that many of the successive styles of art were either a continuation or modification of an earlier style, or an attempt to break away and create a completely new era of artistic styles that more accurately reflect, not only the artists personal styles, but also the social context of that specific period in time.

Art 101: What is neoclassicism. (2011, May 6). Retrieved from
From leisure to virture: Revivalism and the neoclassical. (2011). Retrieved from
MindEdge. (2012). Humanities through the ages. Retrieved from

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Art Comparison

...Rococo vs. Neoclassical: Resting Girl (Marie-Louise O’Murphy) and Grande Odalisque By Rachel Mizic FAS_202 08-10-2014 (Fig. 1a) Resting Girl (Marie-Louis O’Murphy) by François Boucher (1751). Oil on canvas, 59cm x 73 cm, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne (image: (Fig. 1b) Close up of Resting Girl (Marie-Louise O’Murphy) by François Boucher (1751) (image: wallraf.meseum) (Fig. 2a) Grande Odalisque by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1814). Oil on canvas, 91cm x 162cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris (image: (Fig. 2b) Close up of Grande Odalisque by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1814) (image: (Fig. 2c) Close up of Grande Odalisque by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1814) (image: The Age of Enlightenment brought two very different styles to the world of art and, in particular, to painting: the whimsical, indulgent Rococo and the more serious Neoclassical. In this essay I will be comparing two paintings; one in the style of Rococo, the other Neoclassical. The first, Resting Girl by François Boucher (1751-1752) is a Rococo-era work of oil on canvas, 59cm x73cm in size. The second, Grande Odalisque, also oil on canvas, 91cm x 162cm, is considered to be a Neoclassical work, though created during the overlapping period during the culmination of Neoclassicism and the beginning of Romanticism. This period of overlap allowed Ingres to employ Romantic themes while staying true to the form of Neoclassicism. The agenda......

Words: 1801 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Dunbar Notes

...Russell Ellis Simerly III AP European History Chapter 17—The Age of Enlightenment: Eighteenth Century Thought Chapter Overview: The Enlightenment is a movement of people and ideas that fostered the expansion of literate sectors of European society and that economic improvement and political reform were both possible and desirable. Contemporary western political and economic thought is a product of Enlightenment thinking; therefore, some historians believe the process of Enlightenment continues today. Inspired by the scientific revolution and prepared to challenge traditional intellectual and theological authority, Enlightenment writers believed that human beings can comprehend the operation of physical nature and mold it to achieve material and moral improvement, economic growth, and administrative reform. Enlightenment intellectuals advocated agricultural improvement, commercial society, expanding consumption, and the application of innovative rational methods to traditional social and economic practices. The spirit of innovation and improvement came to characterize modern Europe and Western society. Politically, the Enlightenment had a direct impact on some rulers--in eastern and central Europe—whose policies came to be known as enlightened absolutism. Section One: Formative Influences of the Enlightenment Section Overview Chief factors that fostered the ideas of the Enlightenment The Newtonian worldview the political stability and...

Words: 5147 - Pages: 21

Premium Essay


...BELHAVEN UNIVERSITY Jackson, Mississippi A CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY OF LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES FOUNDED IN 1883 CATALOGUE 2014-2015 EFFECTIVE JUNE 1, 2014 Directory of Communication Mailing Address: Belhaven University 1500 Peachtree St. Jackson, MS 39202 Belhaven University 535 Chestnut St. Suite 100 Chattanooga, TN 37402 Belhaven University 7111 South Crest Parkway Southaven, MS 38671 Belhaven University – LeFleur 4780 I-55 North Suite 125 Jackson, MS 39211 Belhaven University 15115 Park Row Suite 175 Houston, TX 77084 Belhaven University Online 1500 Peachtree St. Box 279 Jackson, MS 39202 Belhaven University 1790 Kirby Parkway Suite 100 Memphis, TN 38138 Belhaven University 4151 Ashford Dunwoody Rd. Suite 130 Atlanta, GA 30319 Belhaven University 5200 Vineland Rd. Suite 100 Orlando, FL 32811 Traditional Admission Adult and Graduate Studies Admission – Jackson Atlanta Chattanooga Desoto Houston Memphis Orlando Alumni Relations/Development Belhaven Fax Business Office Campus Operations Integrated Marketing Registrar Student Life Security Student Financial Planning Student Development Online Admission Online Student Services (601) 968-5940 or (800) 960-5940 (601) 968-5988 or Fax (601) 352-7640 (404) 425-5590 or Fax (404) 425-5869 (423) 265-7784 or Fax (423) 265-2703 (622) 469-5387 (281) 579-9977 or Fax (281) 579-0275 (901) 896-0184 or Fax (901) 888-0771 (407) 804-1424 or Fax (407) 367-3333 (601) 968-5980 (601) 968-9998 (601) 968-5901 (601) 968-5904 (601) 968-5930 (601)......

Words: 151104 - Pages: 605

Premium Essay

Dictionary of Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality

...Dictionary of Travel, Tourism and Hospitality By the same author Britain – Workshop or Service Centre to the World? The British Hotel and Catering Industry The Business of Hotels (with H. Ingram) Europeans on Holiday Higher Education and Research in Tourism in Western Europe Historical Development of Tourism (with A.J. Burkart) Holiday Surveys Examined The Management of Tourism (with A.J. Burkart eds) Managing Tourism (ed.) A Manual of Hotel Reception (with J.R.S. Beavis) Paying Guests Profile of the Hotel and Catering Industry (with D.W. Airey) Tourism and Hospitality in the 21st Century (with A. Lockwood eds) Tourism and Productivity Tourism Council of the South Pacific Corporate Plan Tourism Employment in Wales Tourism: Past, Present and Future (with A.J. Burkart) Trends in Tourism: World Experience and England’s Prospects Trends in World Tourism Understanding Tourism Your Manpower (with J. Denton) Dictionary of Travel, Tourism and Hospitality S. Medlik Third edition OXFORD AMSTERDAM BOSTON LONDON NEW YORK PARIS SAN DIEGO SAN FRANCISCO SINGAPORE SYDNEY TOKYO Butterworth-Heinemann An imprint of Elsevier Science Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP 200 Wheeler Road, Burlington MA 01803 First published 1993 Reprinted (with amendments) 1994 Second edition 1996 Third edition 2003 Copyright © 1993, 1996, 2003, S. Medlik. All rights reserved The right of S. Medlik to be identified as the author of this work has been......

Words: 133754 - Pages: 536

Free Essay

Bloodlines of the Illuminati

...Bloodlines of Illuminati by: Fritz Springmeier, 1995 Introduction: I am pleased & honored to present this book to those in the world who love the truth. This is a book for lovers of the Truth. This is a book for those who are already familiar with my past writings. An Illuminati Grand Master once said that the world is a stage and we are all actors. Of course this was not an original thought, but it certainly is a way of describing the Illuminati view of how the world works. The people of the world are an audience to which the Illuminati entertain with propaganda. Just one of the thousands of recent examples of this type of acting done for the public was President Bill Clinton’s 1995 State of the Union address. The speech was designed to push all of the warm fuzzy buttons of his listening audience that he could. All the green lights for acceptance were systematically pushed by the President’s speech with the help of a controlled congressional audience. The truth on the other hand doesn’t always tickle the ear and warm the ego of its listeners. The light of truth in this book will be too bright for some people who will want to return to the safe comfort of their darkness. I am not a conspiracy theorist. I deal with real facts, not theory. Some of the people I write about, I have met. Some of the people I expose are alive and very dangerous. The darkness has never liked the light. Yet, many of the secrets of the Illuminati are locked up tightly simply because secrecy is a......

Words: 206477 - Pages: 826

Free Essay


...62118 0/nm 1/n1 2/nm 3/nm 4/nm 5/nm 6/nm 7/nm 8/nm 9/nm 1990s 0th/pt 1st/p 1th/tc 2nd/p 2th/tc 3rd/p 3th/tc 4th/pt 5th/pt 6th/pt 7th/pt 8th/pt 9th/pt 0s/pt a A AA AAA Aachen/M aardvark/SM Aaren/M Aarhus/M Aarika/M Aaron/M AB aback abacus/SM abaft Abagael/M Abagail/M abalone/SM abandoner/M abandon/LGDRS abandonment/SM abase/LGDSR abasement/S abaser/M abashed/UY abashment/MS abash/SDLG abate/DSRLG abated/U abatement/MS abater/M abattoir/SM Abba/M Abbe/M abbé/S abbess/SM Abbey/M abbey/MS Abbie/M Abbi/M Abbot/M abbot/MS Abbott/M abbr abbrev abbreviated/UA abbreviates/A abbreviate/XDSNG abbreviating/A abbreviation/M Abbye/M Abby/M ABC/M Abdel/M abdicate/NGDSX abdication/M abdomen/SM abdominal/YS abduct/DGS abduction/SM abductor/SM Abdul/M ab/DY abeam Abelard/M Abel/M Abelson/M Abe/M Aberdeen/M Abernathy/M aberrant/YS aberrational aberration/SM abet/S abetted abetting abettor/SM Abeu/M abeyance/MS abeyant Abey/M abhorred abhorrence/MS abhorrent/Y abhorrer/M abhorring abhor/S abidance/MS abide/JGSR abider/M abiding/Y Abidjan/M Abie/M Abigael/M Abigail/M Abigale/M Abilene/M ability/IMES abjection/MS abjectness/SM abject/SGPDY abjuration/SM abjuratory abjurer/M abjure/ZGSRD ablate/VGNSDX ablation/M ablative/SY ablaze abler/E ables/E ablest able/U abloom ablution/MS Ab/M ABM/S abnegate/NGSDX abnegation/M Abner/M abnormality/SM abnormal/SY ab......

Words: 113589 - Pages: 455