Classicism (French classicisme, from Latin classicus – exemplary) – artistic style and aesthetic direction in European art of the XVII-XIX centuries.
At the heart of classicism are the ideas of rationalism, which were formed simultaneously with those of Descartes’ philosophy. Artistic work, from the point of view of classicism, must be built on the basis of strict canons, thereby revealing the harmony and consistency of the universe itself.
Interest for classicism represents only the eternal, unchanging – in every phenomenon he seeks to recognize only the essential, typological features, discarding random individual attributes. The aesthetics of classicism attaches great importance to the public-educational function of art. Many architectural rules and canons of classicism take from the ancient art.
The main feature of the architecture of classicism was the appeal to the forms of ancient architecture as a standard of harmony, simplicity, rigor, logical clarity and monumentality. The architecture of classicism as a whole is inherent in the regularity of planning and the clarity of the three-dimensional form. The basis of the architectural language of classicism was the warrant, in proportions and forms close to antiquity. For classicism, symmetrical-axial compositions, restraint of decorative decoration, regular urban planning system are characteristic.
Classicism in the facade decoration
The architectural language of classicism was formulated at the end of the Renaissance by the great Venetian master Palladio and his follower Skamozzi. The principles of the ancient temple architecture of the Venetians absolutized so much that they used them even in the construction of private mansions. In England, Palladianism took root, and local architects followed Palladio’s precepts with varying degrees of fidelity until the middle of the eighteenth century.
By that time, satiety with the “whipped cream” of the late Baroque and Rococo began to accumulate among the intellectuals of continental Europe. Born by Roman architects Bernini and Borromini, the Baroque was thinned into a rococo, predominantly chamber style with an emphasis on decorating interiors and decorative and applied art. To solve major urban problems this aesthetics was of little use. Even under Louis XV (1715-74) in Paris, urban planning ensembles in the “ancient Roman” taste, such as the Place de la Concorde (architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel) and the church of Saint-Sulpice, and under Louis XVI (1774-92), a similar “noble laconism “is already becoming the main architectural direction.
The most significant interiors in the style of classicism were developed by the Scottish Robert Adam, who returned home from Rome in 1758. Upon his return to his homeland, he was made a royal architect in 1762, but in 1768 left this post because he was elected to parliament and engaged in architecture and construction with his brother James. An enormous impression was made on him by archaeological research of Italian scientists. In the interpretation of Adam classicism appeared as a style, by the refinement of interiors hardly inferior to the rococo, which earned him popularity not only among democratically minded circles of society, but also among the aristocracy. Like his French counterparts, Adam preached a complete rejection of details devoid of constructive function. This restored the architectural stucco decor (and architectural elements in general) the severity of lines and the correctness of proportions.
Frenchman Jacques-Germain Sufflau during the construction of the Church of Saint-Genevieve in Paris demonstrated the ability of classicism to organize vast urban spaces. The massive grandeur of his projects foreshadowed the megalomania of the Napoleonic Empire and late classicism. In Russia Vasily Bazhenov moved in one direction with Sufflo. The French Claude-Nicola Ledoux and Etienne-Louis Boullet went even further in the direction of developing a radical visual style with a bias in the abstract geometrization of forms. In revolutionary France, the ascetic civil pathos of their projects was of little use; to fully innovate Leda was appreciated only by the modernists of the 20th century.
The architecture of Napoleonic France
The architects of Napoleonic France drew inspiration from the majestic images of military glory left by imperial Rome, such as the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus and the column of Trajan. On the orders of Napoleon, these images were transferred to Paris in the form of the triumphal arch of Carrousel and the Vendome column. With reference to the monuments of military greatness of the Napoleonic wars, the term “imperial style” is used – Empire. In Russia, Karl Rossi, Andrei Voronikhin and Andrei Zakharov showed themselves as outstanding artists of the Empire style. In Britain, the empire corresponds to the so-called. “Regent style” (the largest representative – John Nash).
The aesthetics of classicism favored large-scale town-planning projects and led to the ordering of urban development in the scales of entire cities. In Russia, virtually all provincial and many county cities were re-planned in accordance with the principles of classic rationalism. In the original museums of classicism in the open, cities such as St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Warsaw, Dublin, Edinburgh and a number of others have turned. In the whole space from Minusinsk to Philadelphia, a single architectural language reigned back to Palladio. The buildings were built in accordance with the albums of standard projects.
In the period that followed the Napoleonic wars, classicism had to get along with the romantically colored eclectic, in particular, with the return of interest to the Middle Ages and fashion to the architectural neo-Gothic.
Brief description of the architectural style of classicism
Characteristic features: A style that appealed to the ancient heritage as a norm and ideal pattern. Reserved décor and expensive high-quality materials (natural wood, stone, silk, etc.) are characteristic. Most often there are decorations with sculptures and stucco molding.
Predominant colors: saturated colors; green, pink, purple with a gold accent, sky blue.
Lines: strict repeating vertical and horizontal lines; bas-relief in a round locket; smooth generalized drawing; symmetry.
Form: clarity and geometrism of forms; statues on the roof, rotunda; for the Empire style – expressive pompous monumental forms.
Interior elements: discreet decor; round and ribbed columns, pilasters, statues, antique ornamentation, caisson vault.
Constructions: massive, stable, monumental, rectangular, arched.
Windows: rectangular, elongated upwards, with a modest design.
Doors: rectangular, paneled; with a massive gable portal on round and ribbed columns; with lions, sphinxes and statues.
When writing this article and forming a selection of photographs, materials from the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron (1890-1907) and materials from the wikipedia.org website were used.