Academic Classicism is the painting style established by European art academies and universities. In general It is also called "academic art". In this context as new styles are embraced by academics, the new styles come to be considered academic, thus what was at one time a rebellion against academic art becomes academic art. The academic art world also worshiped Raphael, for the splendor of his work. This style is often termed "art pompier", "academism", "academicism", "classical revival", "beaux-arts classicism" and "eclecticism".
The followers of Classicism appreciated and imitated Greek and Roman literature, art, and architecture. Classicism is a late form of Neoclassicism, with a distinctly original elegance. Often linked with "historicism" and "syncretism".
Followers of this movement were influenced by the high standards of the French Academie des Beaux-Arts, which practiced under the movements of Neoclassicism and Romanticism. Academic Classicism attempted to merge both techniques to create the perfect style. It is characterized by adhering to a strict manner of painting, following narrow compositional rules and delicacy of color. The atmospheric effects are sumptuously luminescent. According to art historian, Walter Pater "To produce such effects at all requires all the resources of painting, with its power of indirect expression, of subordinate but significant detail, its atmosphere, its foregrounds and backgrounds."
Subject matter often used in Rococo art such as light hearted frivolity of the upper classes was fashionable once again. This style favored interpretations of Greek, Roman and Renaissance themes. Imagery often centered around Biblical stories, Arthurian legends and mythology. According to Solomon Gessner, the great German painter and art historian, "By studying the works of Greek sculptors the painter can attain the sublimest conceptions of beauty, and learn what must be added to nature in order to give to the imitation dignity and propriety.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: German poet, playwright, novelist, and philosopher argued that Greek art was an absolutely exemplary model from which a fixed canon determinative for the artists of all times could be derived; and that the composition of pictures should correspond strictly with the style of antiquity.
Masters of Academic Classicism, William Bouguereau, Paul Delaroche and Jean-Leon Gerome, had an extraordinary way of capturing nature's tempestuous, "feral" qualities and yet, at the same time, create in the viewer an almost inspirational feeling of harmony and serenity. High drama, blithe sophistication, and unrequited passion characterize this magnificent painting style.