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The Neoclassical style originated in mid-18th century France and Britain, where it dominated the decorative arts until the influential Empire style of the early 19th century. Neoclassical forms were inspired by the Classical art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, which was considered to embody the perfection of harmonious forms. The movement began in the 1760s and lasted well into the 1840s and 50s.
Partly a response to the Rococo, the Neoclassical favours unity over frivolity, restraint rather than the sensuality of the Rococo style before it. It was recent antiquarian discoveries which encouraged Neoclassical interest, specifically the excavation of buried Roman cities including Pompeii and Herculaneum. After this came various publications, research, and scholarly interest in Greco-Roman art. Consequently, these Classical influences infiltrated 18th century culture, and so Neoclassicism takes hold.