The term neoclassicism is used to describe various movements in the arts that draw upon the works and culture of ancient Greece and Rome for inspiration. Aspects of neoclassicism can be found in painting, sculpture, architecture, theater, music, and literature.
Neoclassicism originally emerged in the later part of the Enlightenment, and at the time was a reaction to the excessive style of the Rococo period. Joachim Winckelmann wrote two books in 1750 and 1764 that first distinguished differences between Greek art and Roman art, and these works were highly influential on architecture in the second half of the 18th century. Around the same time, the rich of Europe began taking “Grand Tours” and collecting antiquities.
In some aspects, neoclassicism was actually a revival of the Renaissance, which first sought to emulate Greece and Rome in the arts and architecture. In France, for example, styles attempted to return to the grandeur of Louis XIV during the reign of Napoleon. Neoclassicism in France is a bridge between the Directoire and Empire styles of architecture and decoration.
In architecture, neoclassicism stresses simplicity and symmetry, and reached a peak in England during the Georgian period. However, much of Berlin that was constructed during the 18th century, especially under Frederick the Great, was constructed in the neoclassical style.