The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 290
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Southwestern Hzstorzcal Quarterly
Manifest Destiny, and historical progress. While the sculptural pro-
gram might have seemed too elaborate and expensive to the board, the
content and themes of Ney's proposals nevertheless meshed well with
the inherited values of Texas's late nineteenth-century leaders. Al-
though the Capitol Board failed to endorse the specific plan proposed
by Ney and Roberts, later legislatures, governors, and civic organiza-
tions would revive it in spirit. From the completion of the Capitol in
1888 through the early twentieth century, the state either appropriated
funds or endorsed efforts of private organizations to provide art that
espoused similar values for the interior and exterior of the building.2
The kind of art that eventually appeared in the Capitol was hardly
unique to Texas, however; indeed, it is heir to nearly a century and a
half of discussion about the place of art within a democratic society. As
historian Neil Harris has pointed out, many of America's earliest lead-
ers feared the development of a native tradition in the visual arts. To
some eighteenth-century minds, particularly those descended from the
Puritans, painting and sculpture represented the sophistication, lux-
ury, and decadence they associated with monarchy and the Catholic
Church and were pursuits that a nation hoping to nourish such virtues
as restraint and simplicity might do well to avoid. Both aesthetic devel-
opments in Europe and national needs in the United States, however,
provided answers to such objections and eventually demonstrated that
art could in fact serve a democratic republic.'
In Europe, excavations of ancient artifacts at Pompeii and Her-
culaneum in the 173os and 174os, for example, had helped to arouse
interest in antique objects, and the writings of numerous artists, critics,
and historians had made others aware of the aesthetic possibilities of
classical models. The resulting neoclassical style was concerned with
more than formal and aesthetic qualities, however; it was, in effect, an
artistic and architectural corollary to Enlightenment thought, which
provided the intellectual underpinnings of the American Revolution.
While philosophers wrote about an orderly, rational universe, neo-
classical artists emphasized the importance of order, clarity, and emo-
tional control. In the words of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, one of
the most influential of the style's theoreticians, artists were to turn away
from the frivolity and decorativeness of the baroque and rococo to
work that expressed "a noble simplicity and a serene grandeur."
' Ibid., Austin Dady Statesman, Jan 31, 1882
'Neil Hal ris, The Au tut mn Amercan Socrety The Formative Years, 1790- i86o (New York. (;George
Braziller, 1966), 2-6.
'Hugh Honour, Neo-clasatcritsm (Middlesex. Penguin Books, 1968) is a helpful, and generally
accurate, gene al discussion of the subject. Foi quotation, see p. 61
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/328/: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.