Neoclassicism was an art movement in tandem with the Federal period also looking to Greek and Roman motifs. During this time period, Black artists found establishing themselves in the visual arts world was difficult because of race. Most financial success was gained in producing work based on popular European styles. Many 19th century Black artists moved to Europe to study in art academies as well as escape racial prejudice.
Examples from the Period:
Mary Edmonia Lewis (1844-c.1911) was a sculptor active during the 1860s-1870s. Lewis was the first Black sculptor to achieve international success. She moved to Italy in 1865 on the advice of sculptor Harriet Hosmer and settled in Rome where there was a thriving expatriate community of artists and writers. While her style was Neoclassical, the subject matter was based in the struggles against the institution of slavery, female oppression, and Indigenous American cultures. By 1870, Lewis was internationally known earning her commissions, exhibitions, and sales. Learn more about Lewis here.