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3,243 artworks, 613 artists
Classicism (fr. classicisme, from lat. classicus - “exemplary”) is an art movement which is guided by the principles of the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome. It is characterized by harmony, restraint, elegance, rationality and respect for proportions. Classicism began to dominate Western art from the Renaissance, and classical mythology, which included myths and legends about ancient Greek and Roman gods and heroes, became the main source of the subjects that firmly entered the art history.
The idealized shape of the human body was the most noble object of art in ancient Greece and it became the basis for the standard of beauty that has been dominating for centuries. In classicism, the ideal of beauty was based on the proportion canon based on the golden ratio and the body parts length ratio. Following anatomical realism, the art movement is also characterized by the emotional and psychological realism, which create dramatic tension and attract the viewer.
The reference Greek sculptures peculiar to classicism are the Doryphoros by Polykleitos (120—50 BC); Apollo Belvedere by Leochares (6th century BC); Laocoön and His Sons – a sculptural group created by Agesander, Polydor and Athenodor in the second half of the 1st century BC; Venus de Milo (130—100 BC), created by Agesander of Antioch. The bronze originals of Greek sculptures were virtually not preserved, but all these ingenious works remained for centuries reproduced in marble by Roman masters. These sculptures became fundamental for classicist artists, and they became the prototypes of many subjects in art.
Classicist artists adhered to the classic canons: the predominance of the general over the particular, the lines over the colour, the straight lines over the curves, frontal closed composition over the diagonal construction. At the same time, in classicist paintings, the artists also used the contemporary subjects and ideals, which they interpreted in their own way. Greek sculpture influenced many Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo, Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Correggio.
Classicism influenced not only sculpture and painting, but also literature, architecture and music. The study of the Ancient Greek and Roman art, the Greek and Latin languages became one of the main components of the educational process over the centuries. During the 16—17th centuries, classicism was regarded according to the spirit of strict discipline, and it influenced the methods of teaching art and music. In particular, a hierarchy of pictorial genres formed. Classicism attributed historical, mythological and religious painting to the high genres, whereas still life, landscape and portrait painting — to the low ones, and their mixing was considered unacceptable.
The art movement was finally formed in the 17th century in France, against the backdrop of the heyday of an absolute monarchy. One of the main representatives of classicism was the Frenchman Nicolas Poussin, who was active in Rome and received the title of the first painter of King Louis XIII. After little time, classicism became popular in Spain and England, Germany, Holland, and Russia. In Russian art, classicism appeared in the second half of the 18th century under Catherine II, a big fan of the ideas of the Enlightenment.