The Role of the State in Promoting Neoclassical Art in 18th Century France
The article explores the influence of the state on neoclassical art in 18th century France. From the commissioning of classical artwork to state patronage of great Frenchmen for a national museum, the state played a significant role in shaping the artistic movement of the time. The article also discusses the resurgence of the culture of feeling, the events that led to significant changes in the way people viewed the world, and the shift in cultural perception of art.
Table of Contents
- The State’s Promotion of Neoclassical Art in France
- The Culture of Feeling and the Resurgence of Reaction Against Reason
- The Shift in Cultural Perception of Art
The State’s Promotion of Neoclassical Art in France
Q: How did the state influence neoclassical art in 18th century France?
A: The state played a significant role in promoting neoclassical art in 18th century France, with commissions favoring classical style for painters, sculptors and architects. Jacques-Germain Soufflot, with the support of the state, designed a grand new church for St. Geneviève, which later became a secular Pantheon during the French Revolution. State patronage intensified under the comte d’Angiviller, who commissioned portraits and sculptures of great Frenchmen for a national museum at the Louvre. One such example is Jacques-Louis David’s “The Oath of the Horatii”, which was a great success in 1785 and has been interpreted as a republican call to arms, although there is no evidence that it was intended as such.
Q: Who were some of the notable artists of the neoclassical movement?
A: Some notable artists of the neoclassical movement include Jacques-Louis David, Antonio Canova and Angelica Kauffman. David’s work, in particular, had a significant impact on the movement and was highly influenced by classical antiquity. His “Death of Marat” and “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” are some of his most famous works.
Q: What was the significance of the state’s involvement in promoting neoclassical art?
A: The state’s promotion of neoclassical art helped to shape the artistic movement of the time and made it more widespread. It allowed for artists to receive greater recognition and financial support, while also establishing a certain style as the norm. The state also played a role in preserving and promoting national cultural heritage, particularly through the commissioning of portraits and sculptures of great Frenchmen for national institutions.
The Culture of Feeling and the Resurgence of Reaction Against Reason
Q: What was the culture of feeling and how did it develop?
A: The culture of feeling was a literary and cultural movement that emerged in the late 18th century. It emphasized the importance of emotion and subjectivity over reason and objectivity, rejecting the arid abstractions of the earlier Enlightenment. This movement was marked by the triumphal progress of Voltaire in France in 1778 and the relaxation of censorship, which brought a flood of reprints of religious works.
Q: What was the impact of the Dijon Academy’s question on the progress of science and arts?
A: The Dijon Academy’s question, which asked whether the progress of science and arts had improved or corrupted morals, was a turning point for some intellectuals of the time. It led to Jean-Jacques Rousseau rejecting the values of the Enlightenment and attacking the natural sciences as motivated by vice, while also regretting the invention of printing. This, in turn, contributed to the resurgence of reaction against reason.
Q: Who were some of the key figures of the romantic movement?
A: Some of the key figures of the romantic movement included Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The movement was characterized by its rejection of Enlightenment rationalism and classicism in favor of subjectivity, originality and passion.
The Shift in Cultural Perception of Art
Q: How did the cultural perception of art change during the 18th and early 19th centuries?
A: During the 18th and early 19th centuries, there was a shift in the perception of art, from a representational or recreational function to a sacralized activity to be worshipped in its own right. This was evident in the contrast between the funerals of Mozart and Beethoven, with the latter being a grand affair that paid homage not to God, but to art itself. This change in perception was mirrored in the romantic movement, which opposed reason to emotion, faith to scepticism, and historicism to natural law, among other things.
Q: What was the significance of the romantic movement in the history of art?
A: The romantic movement was of great significance in the history of art, as it marked a major shift away from the rationalism and classicism of the Enlightenment. It called for a remystification of the world, rejecting the arid abstractions of rationalism and turning the central metaphor of the Enlightenment – light – on its head in favour of the darker, more mysterious world of the night. The artist was seen as the supreme mediator of this new world-view, and his work was celebrated as the embodiment of truth and beauty.
The role of the state in promoting neoclassical art, and the cultural shifts that followed, had a profound impact on the history of art. From the triumphal progress of Voltaire to the romantic movement, these changes challenged traditional modes of thinking and initiated a new era of artistic expression. Today, we can still see the legacy of these movements in the art that we continue to produce and appreciate.