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1730-1925: Neoclassicism

New Approaches to Classical Architecture


Ornate Baroque and Rococo styles fell out of favor as architects returned to Classical ideals borrowed from ancient Greece and Rome. Read below for facts about Neoclassicism in architecture.
West Front of the US Capitol Building in Washington DC

West Front of the US Capitol Building in Washington DC

Photo: Architect of the Capitol

How Neoclassical Architecture Began:

In 1563, Renaissance architect Giacomo da Vignola outlined the principles of Classical architecture in a treatise titled The Five Orders of Architecture (compare prices). A few years later, another Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio, described his own approach to Classical architecture in The Four Books of Architecture (compare prices).

These books were widely translated and inspired builders throughout western Europe. By the 1700s, European architects were turning away from elaborate Baroque and Rococo styles in favor of restrained Neoclassical approaches. Orderly, symmetrical Neoclassical architecture reflected the intellectual awakening among the middle and upper classes in Europe during the period historians often call the Enlightenment. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the newly-formed United States also drew upon Classical ideals to construct grand government buildings and smaller private homes.

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