Neo-classicism may be defined as a controlled academic approach to art. Classicism is used as the opposite of Romanticism, characterising art in which adherence to recognised aesthetic ideals (the work of Raphael was frequently used as the yardstick by which students would be measured) is accorded greater importance than individuality of expression. Allegiance is to clear and precise form, balanced compositions, and idealised beauty.
The word often implies direct inspiration from antique art, but this is not a necessary part of the concept, and according to context the word might be intended to convey little more than the idea of clarity of expression, aversion to innovation, or alternatively of conservatism. [Ed. note: The terms Classicism and Neo-classicism are often used interchangeably, but Classicism refers either to the art produced in antiquity or to later art inspired by that of antiquity; Neo-classicism always refers to the art produced later but inspired by antiquity.]