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classicism

The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Following the archaeological rediscovery of Herculaneum and Pompeii in the 18th cent. there was a renewed interest in the culture of ancient Rome and, subsequently, ancient Greece. This period is generally designated as neoclassicism, and it is considered to be the first phase in the larger romantic movement. The revival of antiquity in the 18th cent. was closely tied to such political events as the American and French revolutions, in which parallels were drawn between ancient and modern forms of government.

In German literature the classical stream was deflected in the last quarter of the 18th cent. by the romantic period of Sturm und Drang, but it was revived later in the century when Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich von Schiller wrote classical drama. Classicism is also applied to the music of this period, especially the works of Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. In art and architecture classicism remained fashionable throughout the 19th cent. and into the early 20th cent. largely through the influence of the École des Beaux-Arts in France, whose curriculum was imitated in many countries.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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