Eclecticism (18th – 19th Century)

Eclectism was characterized by revival and mixing of previous styles, including: Chippendale Style, Hepplewhite Style, Sheraton Style, Biedermeier Style, Louis Philippe Style, Victorian Style,  Regency Style and Second Empire Style.

U.S. Capitol Building
U.S. Capitol Building

Image Source: http://study.com/academy/lesson/eclecticism-in-architecture-definition-meaning.html

Eclectic Art

The first person who used the term “eclectic” into the world of art is Johan Joachim Winckelmann, German art historian and archaeologist. This term was meant to be employed for the works of Carracci, who conceived his painting combining classical tradition with the elements of Renaissance.

Annibale Carracci, Sleeping Venus, 1602-1603, oil on canvas, Musée Condé.
Annibale Carracci, Sleeping Venus, 1602-1603, oil on canvas, Musée Condé.

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleeping_Venus_(Carracci)

The eclectic style is not a particular style. It is all about borrowing a variety of styles and combining them to create a single project. It is more than just putting everything together, eclectic design works to make all these different styles come together. Elements are thoughtfully connected with the other parts of the style in the space. The finish tend to be neutral to help these different sensibilities come together and avoid a chaotic look.

The Palace of Justice, Rome, Designed by the Perugia architect Guglielmo Calderini and built between 1888 and 1910.
The Palace of Justice, Rome, Designed by the Perugia architect Guglielmo Calderini and built between 1888 and 1910.

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palace_of_Justice,_Rome

Eclecticism in art

Eclecticism hardly ever constituted a specific style also in art: it is featured with a combination of elements borrowed from different historical styles in architecture, painting, and decorative arts.

Indeed, AgostinoAnnibale and Lodovico Carracci tried to put together in their art Michelangelo’s line, Titian’s color, Correggio’s chiaroscuro, and Raphael’s symmetry and grace.

St. Sebastian Thrown into the Cloaca Maxima, Lodovico Carracci.
St. Sebastian Thrown into the Cloaca Maxima, Lodovico Carracci.

Image source: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lodovico_Carracci_(Italian_-_St._Sebastian_Thrown_into_the_Cloaca_Maxima_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

In the 18th century, Sir Joshua Reynolds, one of the most influential advocates of this style. In the sixth of his famous academical Discourses, he wrote that the painter had use the work of the predecessors as a:

“magazine of common property, always open to the public, whence every man has a right to take what materials he pleases” (Reynolds 1775).

Joshua Reynolds, Lady Cockburn and Her Three Eldest Sons, 1773, oil on canvas.
Joshua Reynolds, Lady Cockburn and Her Three Eldest Sons, 1773, oil on canvas.

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Lady_Cockburn_and_Her_Three_Eldest_Sons.jpg?uselang=en

Eclectic Architecture

This style was featured with the use of themes of various pervious historical styles. Architects had complete freedom of choice dealing with architectural and ornamental motifs. eclectism wanted the creation of large urban ensembles in the Russian or European style. Facades of eclectic style architecture, gave the front of the building a huge relief and charm. This main characteristics of this movement can be found in the following example, for sure one of the best known churches in the world.

Image source: https://lasagradafamiliatickets.com/sagrada-familia-highlights/

La Salle, IL. Hegeler Carus Mansion, is another useful example to better understand this style. The mansard is the key element that typically allows for an identification. It includes dormer windows on the upper floor, providing light behind the mansard roof. The floor plan features pavilions, which are outward projections of a building’s center or side.

Second Empire Example
Second Empire Example

Image source: https://architecturestyles.org/second-empire/

Eclectic Interior design

Interior design was also involved in this art movement featuring Charming, creative lines. Textures and forms are basic principles that, if fused together,  can outline a way to create an harmonious eclectic interior spaces. Furnishings and accessories used come from different design styles and periods. Colours are usually neutral.

Chippendale style interior.
Chippendale style interior.

Image source: https://it.pinterest.com/pin/413909021975440037/

Info source: https://www.britannica.com/topic/eclecticism