Thursday, April 16, 2009


Victorian Classicism

Britain , Mid to Late 19th Century. Victorian Classicism was a British form of historical painting inspired by the art and architecture of Classical Greece and Rome . Although the word classical often implies direct inspiration from antique art, but this is not a necessary part of the concept, and according to context the word might be intended to convey little more than the idea of clarity of expression, or alternatively of conservatism. In the context of Greek art, the term `Classical' has a more precise meaning, referring to the period between the Archaic and Hellenistic periods, when Greek culture is thought to have attained its greatest splendor. The term `classic' is used to refer to the best or most representative example of its kind in any field or period. In the 19th century, an increasing number of Western Europeans made the "Grand Tour" to Mediterranean lands. There was a great popular interest in the region's lost civilizations and exotic cultures, and this interest fuelled the rise of Classicism in Britain , and Orientalism, which was mostly centered in continental Europe . The Classicists were closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelites, many artists being influenced by both styles to some degree. Both movements were highly romantic and were inspired by similar historical and mythological themes -- the key distinction being that the Classicists epitomized the rigid Academic standards of painting, while the Pre-Raphaelites were initially formed as a rebellion against those same standards. Frederick Leighton and Lawrence Alma-Tadema were the leading Classicists, and in their lifetimes were considered by many to be the finest painters of their generation.

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