Neoclassicism was a widespread and influential movement in architecure, painting and the other visual arts that began in Europe in the 1760s, reached its height in the1780s and '90s, and lasted until the 1840s and '50s.
In painting it generally took the form of an emphasis on austere linear design in the depiction of classical themes and subject matter, using archaeologically correct settings and costumes. Neoclassicism arose partly as a reaction against the sensuous and frivolously decorative Rococo style that had dominated European art from the 1720s on. But an even more profound stimulus was the new andmore scientific interest in classical antiquity that arose in the 18th century.
Neptune and Amphitrite: A magnificent mosaic adorning the wall of a villa in Herculaneum.
Neoclassicism was given great impetus by new archaeological discoveries, particularly the exploration and excavation of the buried Roman cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii (the excavations of which began in 1738 and 1748, respectively).
The new understanding distilled from discoveries and publications in turnenabled European scholars for the first time to discern separate and distinct chronological periods in Greco-Roman art, and this new sense of a plurality of ancient styles replaced the older, unqualified veneration of Roman art and encouraged a dawning interest in purely Greek antiquities.
The German scholar Johann Joachim Winckelmann's writings and sophisticated theorizings were especially influential in this regard. Winckelmann saw in Greek sculpture "a noble simplicity and quiet grandeur" and called for artists to imitate Greek art. He claimed that in doing so such artists would obtain idealized depictions of natural forms that had been stripped of all transitory and individualistic aspects, and their images would thus attain a universal and archetypal significance.Encyclopedia Britannica
View to Acropolis, Propylaia and Herodion in Athens from southwest. It's an aquarelle, painted by W.Purserin. The British architect Purserin had traveled to Italy and Greece among 1817-1820. On the painting we see a Turkish man speaking to a Greek woman. Backwards the Lycabettous Hill. - Museum City of Athens
View to Acropolis in Athens from southwest . It's a chalcography, painted by W.I. Benneti in London in 1805, based on a work of W. Walker - Museum City of Athens