Both directions are similar in visual language, as they are oriented towards the ancient architecture, and, in some cases, the architecture of the Renaissance. Both directions argue more likely as separate elements: classicism with its rigor, symmetry, clarity of composition, and neoclassicism with pretentiousness, decorative baroque. At the same time, neoclassicism stands aside and even argues with other architectural trends of the 19th and 20th centuries.
As for painting, it is quite simple to visually distinguish classicism - this is an obvious interest in the works of Michelangelo and Raphael, beautiful, individualization-free types — gorgeous male figures similar to Greek athletes, ladies dressed in flowing clothes and draperies, often pathetically “frozen” figures, gestures slightly theatrical. The elaboration of the line, local colors, themes related to mythological and historical plots, in a word, the direction prevailing in the academies for a long time and implicitly associated with the "right" or "official" art.
The words “official” and “correct” can be associated with classicism in architecture - most often, this is the state style created during the period of monarchical government. This is Louis XIV and Catherine II, on the other hand, this is America of the XIX century, where everything is also based on the architecture of classicism, and promotes the triumph of reason and science. Visually, this is embodied in strict symmetry, in following order systems, in a restrained decorative scheme.
Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicont, architect Louis Levo, 1658-1661
This style is used by monarchies, because it looks powerful, emphasizes the strength of the state, it is convenient to withstand the layout of the whole city in a single spirit. Whether it is a building, sculpture or painting, this style rarely interests private customers - they just prefer something fashionable according to their time - Mannerism, Baroque, Rococo, Realism, Impressionism, Modern, Constructivism, and so on.
This is the first difference between styles. Neoclassicism is not a state program, it is a private “classic game”. This is stylization under the “old, noble time”, allowing for a more arbitrary treatment of style, this is the fashion of its time, this is work for private customers.
Abamelek-Lazarev Mansion (1913-1914) - St. Petersburg, Moika River Embankment, 23. Architect: Ivan Fomin (1872-1936)
How to distinguish visually these directions?
“To be honest, sometimes it’s really difficult. Details can be very thin. The difference in the first place - in scale. Classicism of the XVIII century, for example, can be distinguished by more detailed details. If you look at the building and see that the bracket is large, this is most likely neoclassicism. Of course, the difference is subtle, it must be full of eyes. I emphasize, by the way, that this question is not a stylistic at all. It is a matter of increasing the scale in the centuries. In the twentieth century, we use larger parts than we used in the nineteenth century, and in the nineteenth century, in turn, the ornaments are larger than in the sixteenth century. ”- Anastasia Golovina, architect, teacher of educational courses at the Museum of Modern Art“ Garage"
It turns out, in terms of architecture, in details and techniques - there is almost no difference between classicism and neoclassicism. Even the proportions are sufficiently verified - they were inscribed by Andrea Palladioesche in the 16th century, and so they are used. The material is also not an indicator. In Russia, for example, classicism is also brick and plaster, and neoclassicism too. In the twentieth century it may be reinforced concrete, but it is also plastered and painted, that is, it cannot be distinguished externally.
La Rotonda, architect Andrea Palladio, 1566
Villa Rotonda, architect Andrea Palladio, plan
“About painting, to be honest, you can express a similar opinion. The main difference is in the image objects. After all, classicism works with classic images (mythological and historical plots), and neoclassicism, using the same expressive means, concentrates more on modernity - often, these are portraits. As for expressive means, one must be very “seen” in order to visually distinguish between Poussin and David. Of course, there is a whole epoch between these artists, and David sees more interest in the tonality of color, and also neoclassicists are distinguished by fewer details, but, nevertheless, these are subtle differences. Well and, what is important - neo-classicism nevertheless takes on the features of other trends. There are modernist things, romanticizing and symbolic things ”, -Tatyana Bortnik, art historian, teacher of educational courses at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, portrait of Mademoiselle Rivière, oil on canvas, 1805. Louvre
Nicolas Poussin, Arcadian Shepherds (EtinArcadiaEgo), 2nd version, 1650-1655, The Louvre
“Yes, indeed, some“ frontier ”works, in which the neoclassic incorporates other style elements, can also be found in architecture, for example, the Bolshaya Sadovaya Shekhtelyan mansion. In this case, we can talk about modernist features: the absence of symmetry in the first place. Yet in classicism such things are unacceptable, ”-A. Golovin.
Moscow, Bolshaya Sadovaya, 4, bldg. 1, architect F. O. Shekhtel, 1910
In fact, it will be necessary to look for “divisions” between these areas for each country individually. But to distinguish the classicizing directions from all the others is just very easy. Strict, pathetic heroes, elaboration of textures, no reflexes, separate strokes, torn contours and "low" subjects in sculpture and painting. It is exclusively “high” art. Clear, regular and symmetrical facades, powerful forms suitable for state architecture, devoid of unnecessary patterns in architecture.
Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, Bolshaya Odaliska, 1814. Oil on canvas, 91 × 162 cm, Louvre
Jacques Louis David, Death of Marat, 1793. Oil on canvas. 165 × 128 cm, Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels