Broadly defined, classicism as a movement of art is characterised by elegance, symmetry, and repose produced by attention to traditional forms. It is a school of thought inspired by the beauty and excellence of the Greek and Roman literature, art and architecture.
Unlike avant garde movements, classicism relies on specific academic canons as it adheres to principles of the ancients. Nicolas Poussin contributed significantly to its spread, later influencing both 18th and 19th century painters.
Classicism’s first revival came during the Renaissance when there was a re-emergence of interest in classical themes and standards in the works of Romans and Greeks, particularly in the works of Plato and Cicero. The second phase came in the 18th century with the discovery of Herculaneum and Pompeii and during the American and French revolutions and was widely prevalent in art, music and architecture. Interestingly, classicism has even found a place in a period as recent as the 20th century with elements in the works of painters like Paul Cezzane and Pablo Picasso. A 20th-century neoclassical revival saw musicians like Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky, and Béla Bartók revel in the aesthetics of it. Even today, classicism continues to inspire painters, musicians, architects and artists alike.