Back to antiquity.
The time of serious decisions was coming. Philosophy and science were the sources of changes in social life; this was the point now, so that art can also meet the new social requirements. serious art, sublime, logical and consistent. All these qualities were found in the art of antiquity.
An important event for the development of art was the discovery of two ancient cities: Herculaneum and Pompeii, buried in lava and ash during the eruption of Vesuvius in. 79 n.e. Until now, ancient art was known only fractionally from the preserved statues and ruins, mostly Roman. Beginning of excavations in the area of Herculaneum (1738 r.), especially Pompeii (1748 r.) brought new revelations: the image of the whole city was revealed and information about buildings was read from well-preserved monuments, sculptures, wall paintings, mosaics and everyday objects. These monuments made it possible to recreate the picture of life and culture in the period of Roman antiquity as fully as possible. At the same time traveling east, taken up more and more often by architects and scientists, they allow you to gather knowledge about architecture and art, not only Roman, but also Greek.
In year 1764 the work of the German scholar JAN JOACHIM WINCKELMANN is published – History of Ancient Art, in which the author recognizes the works of ancient artists as unsurpassed, and he advises the contemporaries to abandon all their own research and content themselves with the imitation of antiquity. Winckelmann draws the following conclusions from his research on it for contemporary art: stillness is nobler than movement; shape in the work (i.e. the line, outline) has superiority over color, because the shape is an expression of the work of the mind, color expresses feeling; generalized form in sculpture and painting, i.e. devoid of individual features and reduced to a perfect pattern (already found, of course, by the ancients), has superiority over an individually characterized character. Idealism therefore has an absolute advantage over realism. Nature cannot be a role model, because it's full of mistakes. Perfect, flawless beauty was created by the ancients.
How Winckelmann's theory was reflected in the fine arts, we will see when discussing the sculpture and painting of this period.