WikiChoeclaiste: Checklist to Inspire Visual Art and Design from History of the Enlightenment, Neoclassicism and Romanticism
Table of Contents
Voltaire, considered a key Enlightenment thinker drew on Newton, Locke and Descartes. He became a significant social activist advocating for revolutionary change in governments such as in France and for hedonist philosophy.
Diderot’s Encyclopédie was a comprehensive access to all human knowledge; the Comte de Buffon’s Natural History was an encyclopedia of the natural sciences.
Fig. 2. Science: the engraved titlepage to the Encyclopedie of Diderot and d’Alembert engraving by B.L. Prevost, 1772, after C.N. Cochin, the younger, 1765: from 1772, print engraving; image and border 33.5 x 21.7 cm, wellcome collection. wellcomecollection.org/works/zywv7dcc. Accessed 18 March 2022.
The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, was an age of the development of intense social commentary, for example Hogarth’s satires. Fig. 3 portrays a satirical satyr, the Greek mythical goat human, like or from Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry, among the many other characters of action in this scene.
Fig. 3. Monument with a portrait of Samuel Butler; a youth sculpts a relief as a satyr holds Butler’s book Hudibras towards him while Britannia looks at her reflection in a mirror engraving by William Hogarth: from 1768, print engraving, with etching; image 23.7 x 34.4 cm, wellcome collection. wellcomecollection.org/works/s8snwcs9. Accessed 18 March 2022.
The Age of Reason was the pre-cursor to the Industrial Revolution, early signs of this include the first iron bridge, with a 100’ span and its skeletal design.
Opposing schools of philosophy developed, with Voltaire emphasizing Platonic reason and science; whereas Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued more radical Socratic revolution and a return to nature from the spoils of science and civilization. Fig. 5 displays a return to emotive art where Greuze was known for depicting rural scenes of family, nostalgia and feeling.
Art developed from, and as a reaction to, the scientific method, to convey the moral and religious goodness of the unpretentious middle-class.
Early feminist art can be seen in Fig. 7, in this confident and playful self-portrait by Élisabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun.
The landscape artist school in Neoclassicism includes this Gainsborough painting of a woman in soft-hued light, stressing the beauty of unaltered natural landscapes, with aristocratic people of class and elegance shown as commanding over nature.
Fig. 8. Gainsborough, Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan by Peter H. Feist (photographer): from 1787, photograph, Mediathek des Instituts für Kunst und Bildgeschichte der Humboldt-Universität [Media library of the Institute for Art and Visual History of the Humboldt University], Berlin. europeana, europeana.eu/en/item/626/item_SIDCY4EAGGTUG4QEQIA4I27BGBUMTURP. Accessed 18 March 2022.
Reynolds examined the full range of human primal endeavors by painting portraits of the honored and honorable, courageous courtiers, knights, and noblemen, who went in to battle for England; conversely, he also put on display the contrasting dark side of humanity in an illustration of Shakespeare’s Macbeth , the play about the murderous schemes among royalty, to gain the throne.
Fig. 9. Witchcraft: Macbeth seeing the three witches, with other horrifying visions etching after Sir Joshua Reynolds, after William Shakespeare: from ca. 1786-1790, print etching, partly on soft ground; image 17.7 x 23 cm, wellcomecollection. wellcomecollection.org/works/y7fws55n. Accessed 19 March 2022.
The result of battle was painted with the beauty of nature as a backdrop to continue the discourse that argued for a return to nature, yet with a heroic command over nature.
Art of the school of Realism is in Fig. 11, Copley depicting common-place subjects painted with clear light, displaying visual facts carefully.
Influences that created Neoclassicism included Kauffmann’s paintings, some of ancient Greek mythology, which distances humans from nature by idealizing them. The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice describes the son of the Olympian Greek god, Apollo, Orpheus and his fateful love for Eurydice, involving a decent into the underworld of Hades.
Neoclassicism was influenced by the French revolution and paintings of great empire leaders were created including David’s painting of Brutus, one of the founders of the Roman Republic, who sentenced his own sons to death for high treason.
Fig. 13. The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons study by Jacques Louis David: from c. 1787 (?), oil on paper mounted cloth, equipped with laminate glass; 27.5 x 35 cm, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm. europeana, europeana.eu/en/item/2064116/Museu_ProvidedCHO_Nationalmuseum__Sweden_19743. Accessed 19 March 2022.
Fig. 14 illustrates and serves to further the French revolution, depicting a constitutional meeting in 1789 and inspiring patriotism.
Fig. 14. Oath of the Tennis Court: the deputies of the third estate meeting in the tennis court at the Château de Versailles with Bailly presiding, swearing not to disperse until a constitution is assured by E. Letellier: from print lithograph, printed in colour; image 16.2 x 15 cm, wellcome collection. wellcomecollection.org/works/nr5d4bqp. Accessed 19 March 2022.
The ironically Neoclassical David painting of the French martyred (assassinated) revolutionary, works well to convey this death.
France creates empire glory with the help of Soufflot, the architect of the Panthéon in Paris.
Fig. 16. Claude Perrault; Jacques Germain Soufflot (Les Illustres français) Claude Perrault, de l’Académie des sciences, né à Paris en 1613; Jacques Germain Soufflot, né en 1713 à Irancy près Auxerre, mort à Paris (Les Illustres français): (portrait) [Claude Perrault; Jacques Germain Soufflot (The Illustrious French) Claude Perrault, of the Academy of Sciences, born in Paris in 1613; Jacques Germain Soufflot, born in 1713 in Irancy near Auxerre, died in Paris (The Illustrious French): (portrait)] by Nicolas Ponce and Clément-Pierre Marillier: from image; 20 x 22.4 cm; 12.8 x 16.9 cm (line), National Institute for Art History Library, Paris. europeana, europeana.eu/en/item/9200495/yoolib_inha_8455. Accessed 19 March 2022.
Napoleon led the French to new heights and created more buildings including a classic Roman architecture temple for his victorious army, La Madelaine, the architect here was Pierre-Alexandre Vignon.
Fig. 17. PARIS – La Madeleine: Armistice Day postcard by unidentified photographer: from George Eastman Museum, ca. 1916, collotype print; overall: 8.9 x 13.7 cm, George Eastman House Collection, Rochester. Eastman Museum, accession number: 1977:0067:0031, flickr, 11 Nov. 2008, flickr.com/photos/george_eastman_house/3021801905/in/photolist-5B2wqR-yrYYHu-5B6NzA-icUTyR-dk58Bn-i7ULdX-ie9XMh-i6FQ5Y-hPDswM-hYMNYZ-hUq2sM-i6ShTi. Accessed 19 March 2022.
Taking on Roman empire characteristics, Napoleon’s sister, Pauline Borghese, is sculpted as Venus by Antonio Canova.
Fig. 18. Canova. Pauline Borghese geb. Bonaparte als Venus Victrix. Villa Borghese [Canova. Pauline Borghese geb. Bonaparte to the Venus Victorious. Villa Borghese] by unknown maker: 1859, print albumen silver; 27.9 × 36.8 cm, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Getty, getty.edu/art/collection/objects/218234/unknown-maker-canova-pauline-borghese-geb-bonaparte-als-venus-victrix-villa-borghese-1859/. Accessed 19 March 2022.
In England Neoclassicism included the Palladio style mansion, Chiswick House, near London started in 1725.
Fig. 19. Chiswick House: Chiswick House (1725-29) by Lord Burlington; palladian: from Steve Cadman, 2007 (?), photograph. flickr, 11 April 2007, flickr.com/photos/stevecadman/456860676/in/photolist-GnwLd-Qh8Hef-Q8D7pL-GnxMt-8wumB5-JXf4y-WiEiHQ-8wruvK-tvGi43-bz5n2s-Gnv8J-pa4WzM-bMZyhc-8iEp9w-prz2fR-8iB9we-8wunuJ-prhQoD-dWnqxR-jbmcst-8iBi7z-JXf4u-8jnKoZ-tc31fY-mXxmre-57JXct-aWDJiH-mYq2mM-dNtPXf-tRt57J-8jqYt3-aURejD-u6HVrj-8jpDTq-6R7wFR-GnvPd-GnB7K-fLN1M-fgdu1w-6orXsB-89ihuM-89ih6c-89mwDE-2jAqRYP-733Jq-89igPk-89igbv-2mMagoZ-2mM9aTm-2mMagmj. Accessed 19 March 2022.
Town planners in England such as John Wood the Younger created majestic Palladian row houses; the Royal Crescent in Bath has 30 houses in a semi-ellipse, created in the late 1700s.
Fig. 20. England from “Metropolitan Improvements … From original drawings by T. H. Shepherd, etc” by Jones & Co.: from 1830, scanned image; 675 x 1962 px, The British Library, London. europeana, europeana.eu/en/item/2059209/data_sounds_http___farm6_staticflickr_com_5500_11221660705_307a0939cf_o_jpg. Accessed 19 March 2022.
The interior of grand homes took on Pompeian design. Osterley Park House’s interior design by Robert Adam took Roman design elements such as the use of Roman art motifs, sparsely laid them out in rectangular spaces, bordered by narrow margins, with pantheon columns.
Fig. 21. Osterley Park House: English, Neo-Classical; architect 1767-1768 Robert Adam; interior, entrance hall: from Allan T. Kohl, 1991, photograph; 3072 x 2048 px, MCAD Library, Minneapolis. flickr, 28 Feb. 2012, flickr.com/photos/69184488@N06/11891497834/in/photolist-j7P31J-Up6kCM-cPuBoQ-Up6jGD. Accessed 19 March 2022.
America much used Pantheon and Palladio architecture as exemplified by the house of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello.
Fig. 22. Monticello: American, Neo-Classical/Federal; exterior, view from southwest; 1769-1784; Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia: from Allan T. Kohl, 1997, photograph; 3072 x 2048 px, MCAD Library, Minneapolis. Image_Filename: AM001, flickr, 14 March 2012, flickr.com/photos/69184488@N06/11891781086/in/photolist-5eYh3V-oFMBP-7RKzv8-573ixg-gppUpw-22Vzb6-gxrKzV-j7Qudo-7XFAnE-oa5sCT-5huUnU-27yKNQC-2jcVzai-2jcWUy2-2jcVzbW-573ixV-hGbY6p-573iy8-j3j3hM-573ixD-77kuCM-j3g5Cr-5eYkfD-j3kWPS-LwnQr3-E3zKNH-EZXw22-xYipq4-3UZcW-EPZtbV-EYbEUi-77pq85-5m9pYe-5eYfmn-28zTypG-sQs75-LwtbDN-7RNNSb-7RKz3F-7RKxWt-5mdGrh-5m9pYM. Accessed 19 March 2022.
The founding father of the U.S.A., George Washington inspired a classic Roman sculpture, showing the president as a Greek god.
In the 1800s Romanticism broke free from the structure of Neoclassicism. Jacques-Louis David taught Antoine-Jean Gros, Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, who fictionalized their paintings in enchanting, exotic and erotic style . Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, by painting the Odalisque, displays the romantic crafting of art well.
Antoine-Jean Gros added romanticism to Napoleon, painting him as a compassionate healer, visiting a house for the sick, with alluring Arabic arches as a backdrop.
The novel Atala by Chateaubriand in 1801 inspired paintings of a similar romantic discourse and introducing ghostly forms. Fig. 26 is on example of this, showing Atala dying from poisoning herself after a Romeo and Juliet style plot of tragic foiled romance.
Fig. 26. Últimos momentos de Atala [The last Moments of Atala] by Luis Monroy: 1871, oil on canvas, INBA Acervo Constitutivo [INBA Constitutive Collection], Museo Nacional de Arte [National Museum of Art], Mexico City. Museo Nacional de Arte, munal.emuseum.com/objects/413/ultimos-momentos-de-atala?ctx=b580d2a9-388a-4cdd-af5b-eb77864e248b&idx=0. Accessed 20 March 2022.
Neoclassicism takes on a romantic, Gothic quality in La Marseillaise, the densely packed massive sculpture on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, to allegorize French empire victory using the symbology of the Roman goddess of war and personification of liberty.
Fig. 27. The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 (“La Marseillaise”): creator François Rude (French) 1833-1836; view in situ, group from right side of east face, Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France; sculpture, relief, 42 x 26 ft.: from Allan T. Kohl, 1990, photograph; 2048 x 3072 px, MCAD Library, Minneapolis. Image_Filename: RMS012, flickr, 25 Jan. 2012, flickr.com/photos/69184488@N06/11891328224/in/photolist-2eXWww-qoy6vt-cJP6t7-7nDYdS-2jvQD-j7NaAq-5LeV77-fT58z-fT56j-fT5aH. Accessed 20 March 2022.
Delacroix, at the same time as painting scenes of the French revolution produced art illustrating scenes from Faust, the lengthy tragic hero, existentialist poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This work is then full of Romanticism with archetypes of spectres, spirits and spooks.
Fig. 28. L’ombre de Marguerite apparaissant à Faust [Marguerite’s Shadow Appearing to Faust] by Eugène Delacroix: from 1828, lithograph fifth of six states, Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University, Middletown. Wesleyan University, second edition, 1843 (?), Villain, dac-collection.wesleyan.edu/objects-1/info?query=Disp_Title%20has%20words%20%22Marguerite%E2%80%99s%20Shadow%20Appearing%20to%20Faust%20(L%E2%80%99ombre%20de%20Marguerite%20apparaissant%20%C3%A0%20Faust)%22%20or%20sort_artist%20contains%20%22Eug%C3%A8ne%20Delacroix%22%20or%20User_Def_7%20contains%20%22French%22%20and%20Disp_Maker_1%20%3D%20%22Eug%C3%A8ne%20Delacroix%22&sort=9&page=34&objectName=Marguerite%E2%80%99s%20Shadow%20Appearing%20to%20Faust%20(L%E2%80%99ombre%20de%20Marguerite%20apparaissant%20%C3%A0%20Faust). Accessed 20 March 2022.
During the 1800s Romanticism bloomed with artists such as Friedrich and his many paintings about wandering in wilderness, musing and existentialism.
Napoleon’s guard was romanticized by Gericault depicting guard soldiers in mounted majestic glory.
Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy where a man visits souls in hell, purgatory and paradise, from c. 1321, inspired William Blake to create prophetic and religiously profound art full of key archetypes.
The Spanish artist Francisco Goya was highly expressive of the shadow side of humanity facing the brutality of conflict. In Fig. 32 he criticized the entire Enlightenment Age of Reason with illustrations of demons and spirits.
Fig. 32. Plate 43 from ‘Los Caprichos’ [‘Whims’]: El sueño de la razon produce monstruos [The sleep of reason produces monsters] by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes: 1799, etching aquatint; plate: 21.2 x 15.1 cm sheet: 29.5 x 21 cm, The Met, New York City. The Met, metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/338473. Accessed 20 March 2022.
Goya was Painter to the King of Spain and painted the Spanish royal family in naturalistic style.
Napoleon’s invasion of Spain led to the execution of Spanish prisoners, which Goya answered with graphically shocking paintings of these executions.
Fig. 34. Executies van gevangen die staand aan palen gebonden zijn [Executions of prisoners tied to stakes standing] by Francisco Goya: from 1810 – 1820, paper, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Google Arts & Culture, artsandculture.google.com/asset/executies-van-gevangen-die-staand-aan-palen-gebonden-zijn/IwF8SpJf-_xmLA. Accessed 20 March 2022.
Fig. 35 represents devils or demons and is Goya’s antithesis to angels. His “Black Paintings,” expressing his disillusionment and pessimism later in life, continue the use of heavily dark symbology and archetypes related to the evils of humanity.
Géricault painted the 1816 shipwreck created by political incompetency and made this the first modern example of creating a current events news story, in July 1816, from a painting. He added dramaticism and macabre qualities to the art work; when it was exhibited in the 1819 Salon it was the first grand example of Romanticism.
Romanticism was interested in exploring irrational and mentally variant states of mind as illustrated in Fig. 37.
Géricault’s picturesque work of Gothic (Medieval) architecture reflects romantic period interest in the beauty of travel and historical nostalgia.
Fig. 38. The Church of St. Nicolas, Rouen by Théodore Géricault: from 1823, lithograph mounted down on white wove paper; image dimensions: 34.1 cm x 23.7 cm, sheet dimensions: 54.4 cm x 33.9 cm, Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University, Middletown. Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans l’ancienne France, vol. II: Normandie [Picturesque and Romantic Voyages in Ancient France, vol. II: Normandy], dac-collection.wesleyan.edu/objects-1/info?query=mfs%20any%20%22Th%C3%A9odore%20G%C3%A9ricault%20The%20Church%20of%20St.%20Nicolas,%20Rouen%22%20and%20Disp_Maker_1%20%3D%20%22Th%C3%A9odore%20G%C3%A9ricault%22&sort=0&page=9&objectName=The%20Church%20of%20St.%20Nicolas,%20Rouen. Accessed 20 March 2022.
Often considered one of the greatest paintings of the Romantics, Delacroix’s painting of the death orgy of the last Assyrian ruler, Sardanapalus, was inspired by Lord Byron’s 1821 narrative poem “Sardanapalus”. Fig. 39 shows a detail of the original painting at the Louvre.
Fig. 39. Delacroix, Der Tod des Sardanapal (Louvre) [Delacroix, The Death of Sardanapalus (Louvre)] by Peter H. Feist (photographer, 1958): from 1827, slide (photograph) detail; 5 x 5 cm, Mediathek des Instituts für Kunst und Bildgeschichte der Humboldt-Universität [Media library of the Institute for Art and Visual History of the Humboldt University], Berlin. europeana, europeana.eu/en/item/626/item_PC4Y52F3QRJ7624QEQI2NODMCZLSD5FN. Accessed 18 March 2022.
Delacroix travelled in North Africa and was awed by the fierce romantic beauty of animal attacks, leading to paintings of Lion hunts in Morocco.
Another French sculptor, Barye, brought to life wild animal attacks in well-crafted bronze.
Natural or human monuments from rocks or cathedral ruins, with gnarled oak tree knots and often snow, were transformed into archetypal existentialist paintings by Friedrich.
John Constable is one of the great landscape painters of the Romantic era, portraying the beauty of the English countryside with Realism and great detail, and with works that captured moments of traditional rural countryside life.
Another landscape painter of the mid-1800s became skilled in crafting great marine paintings such as the depiction of boats of Venice in Fig. 44.
A sailing ship of the French navy being taken to be broken up is accompanied by J. M. W. Turner’s other subjects of old ships and wrecks, in a series of paintings, some referring to the American slave trade.
“The Oxbow” is a feature of a Cole painting where the American artist is faithful to the European romantic landscape painter traditions of contrasting the beauty of wilderness with the pastoral peace of cultivated land, using dramatic diagonals and two sets of shades of green.
A particularly spectacular realist romantic landscape was completed by Bierstadt in 1868.
The famous landscape painter Church travelled much in South America and documented landscapes there including the Colombian houses in Fig. 48.
Fig. 48. Colombia, Barranquilla, Two Houses by Frederic Edwin Church: from 1853, brush and oil paint, graphite on paperboard; 31.6 x 44.6 cm, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York City. Google Arts & Culture, artsandculture.google.com/asset/colombia-barranquilla-two-houses-frederic-edwin-church/GAG4wp85YnLEEg. Accessed 21 March 2022.
The grim reaper, the classic archetype of death, is an expression of the losses from the American civil war in Fig. 49.
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