Origin of Neoclassical architecture and the architects involved in it.
Neoclassical architecture is an architectural style produced
by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th
century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against
the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its
architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some
classicizing features of Late Baroque.
In its purest form it is a style principally derived from the architecture of
Classical Greece and Rome and the architecture of the Italian architect
Andrea Palladio. In form, Neoclassical architecture emphasizes the wall
rather than chiaroscuro and maintains separate identities to each of its
Neoclassical ideas in architecture spread quickly throughout Europe.
Neoclassical buildings are inspired by the classical architecture of
ancient Greece and Rome. A Neoclassical building is likely to have
some (but not necessarily all) of these features
In the sense that neoclassicism in architecture is evocative and
picturesque, a recreation of a distant, lost world, it is, as Giedion
suggests, framed within the Romantic sensibility.
Intellectually Neoclassicism was symptomatic of a desire to return to
the perceived "purity" of the arts of Rome, to the more vague
perception ("ideal") of Ancient Greek arts and, to a lesser extent, 16th-
century Renaissance Classicism, which was also a source for academic
Late Baroque architecture.
There is an anti-Rococo strain that can be detected in some European
architecture of the earlier 18th century, most vividly represented in the
Palladian architecture of Georgian Britain and Ireland, but also
recognizable in a classicizing vein of Late Baroque architecture in
Paris (Perrault's east range of the Louvre), in Berlin, and even in
Rome, in Alessandro Galilei's facade for S. Giovanni in Laterano.
It is a robust architecture of self-restraint, academically selective now of
"the best" Roman models, which were increasingly available for close
study through the medium of architectural engravings of measured
drawings of surviving Roman architecture.
1. Excavations of the Ruins1. Excavations of the Ruins
of Italian Citiesof Italian Cities
Herculaneum in 1738
Pompeii in 1748.
2. Publication of2. Publication of
Books on AntiquityBooks on Antiquity
James Stuart & Nicholas
Antiquities in Athens:
3. Arrival of the Elgin Marbles3. Arrival of the Elgin Marbles
Lord of Elgin
British Museum, 1806 From the top façade of the
Parthenon in Athens.
4. Johann Winckelmann’s Artists Circle4. Johann Winckelmann’s Artists Circle
German art historian.
$ Artists should “imitate”
the timeless, ideal
forms of the classical
$ A circle of international
artists gathered about
him in the 1760s in
• High neoclassicism was an international movement. Though
neoclassical architecture employs the same classical vocabulary
as Late Baroque architecture, it tends to emphasize its planar
qualities, rather than sculptural volumes.
Projections and recessions and their effects of light and shade
are more flat; sculptural bas-reliefs are flatter and tend to be
enframed in friezes, tablets or panels.
• Its clearly articulated individual features are isolated rather than
interpenetrating, autonomous and complete in themselves.
Return to the perceived “purity” of the arts of Rome.
Model the “ideal” of the ancient Greek arts and, to a
lesser, extent, 16c Renaissance classicism.
Sometimes considered anti-modern or even reactionary.
•Tall columns that rise the full height of the building
• Domed roof
Robert Adam (1728 –1792) was a Scottish neoclassical architect and interior
designer. He was the leader of the first phase of the classical revival in England
and Scotland from around 1760 until his death. He influenced the development
of Western architecture, both in Europe and in North America, although he
worked only in Britain.
He specialized in the design of English country houses, large homes for the
wealthy based on ancient architectural and decorative themes, but also on the
ideas of a renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio.
John Nash (1752 – 1835) was an Anglo-Welsh architect responsible for
much of the layout of Regency London.
Nash's work came to the attention of the Prince Regent (later King George IV)
who, in 1811 commissioned him to develop an area then known as Marylebone
Park. With the Regent's backing, Nash created a master plan for the area, put
into action from 1818 onwards, which stretched from St James’s northwards
and included Regent Street, Regent's Park and its neighbouring streets, terraces
and crescents of elegant town houses and villas.
This vast project, covering several square miles, made Nash responsible for
creating a new vision of central London, and fundamentally altered a large area
of the city. This was one of the earliest examples of city planning in Europe.
Andrea Palladio (Italian, 1508-1580) is often described as the most
influential and most copied architect in the Western world. Drawing inspiration
from classical architecture, Palladio created carefully proportioned, pedimented
buildings that became models for stately homes and government buildings in
Europe and America.
Palladio's Four Books of Architecture was widely translated, and Palladio's ideas
spread across Europe and into the New World. American statesman Thomas
Jefferson borrowed Palladian ideas when he designed Monticello, his home in
Virginia, in the Greek Revival style.
Palladio, La Rotonda Jefferson, Monticello
Jefferson was also responsible for the State Capital building at
Richmond, Virginia. He had traveled extensively in Europe and
was deeply inspired by ancient Roman buildings, especially the
Maison Carree in Nimes, France, a well-preserved Roman temple
from 16 BCE.
The Greek Revival movement in America was a late version of
Neoclassicism. In the mid-19th century, many prosperous Americans believed
that ancient Greece represented the spirit of democracy. Interest in British styles
had waned during the bitter War of 1812. Also, many Americans sympathized
with Greece's own struggles for independence in the 1820s.
Greek Revival houses usually have these features:
* Pedimented gable
* Symmetrical shape
* Heavy cornice
* Wide, plain frieze
* Bold, simple moldings
Many Greek Revival houses also have these features:
* Entry porch with columns
* Decorative pilasters
* Narrow windows around front door
SUNSET OF NEOCLASSISM
• From about 1800 a fresh influx of Greek architectural examples,
seen through the medium of etchings and engravings, gave a new
impetus to neoclassicism that is called the Greek Revival.
• Neoclassicism continued to be a major force in academic art
through the 19th century and beyond— a constant antithesis to
Romanticism or Gothic revivals— although from the late 19th
century on it had often been considered anti-modern, or even
reactionary, in influential critical circles.
The last major phase of neoclassicism in architecture is commonly known as
Beaux-Arts (1880-1920). By this point it had become a highly academic
style, taking its name from the ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
Beaux-Arts was very prominent in public buildings in Canada in the early
20th Century, especially in banks and government buildings. Notably all three
prairie provinces' legislative buildings are in this style.
CIBC Bank (Hockey Hall of Fame) Union Station
Buckingham Palace, London
The Gate of Alcala,
By the mid-19th century, several European cities – notably St
Petersburg, Athens, Berlin and Munich – were transformed into
veritable museums of Neoclassical architecture.