Neoclassical portraits

Neoclassical painting emerged during the 18th century, an era when rationality and Enlightenment replaced the religious wars of the previous century. Originating in France, its influence soon spread around the globe. This style was more academic and history-oriented than the decorative Rococo style that emerged just before. Neoclassical portraits of the 18th century are characterized by clear forms, a stripped-back and somber color palette, classical subject matter, and shallow depth. 

Since the 18th century, neoclassicism has seen numerous revivals in the world of art. Following the Second World War, when many sought a “return to order," the timeless and classical values associated with the style were repopularized. Artists such as Pablo Picasso and André Derain, for example, displayed increased sobriety and other neoclassical elements in their artworks during this period. 

The legacy of neoclassical portraiture continues to inspire contemporary artists around the world in its clarity of form, austere and linear perspective, and classical themes. While some artists today show a clear continuation of neoclassical portraiture, others appropriate specific elements of the tradition to suit their practice. Join us at Artsper as we take a journey through some of the best contemporary portrait artists who take inspiration from the neoclassical style, from Éric Odartey to Thierry Carrier!

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