The Art of the Eighteenth Century:
Connapte and Artist
AE 675 American Architectural History
- MAJOR CONCEPTS OF THE 18TH CENTURY
a) Despotism in Europe and Boroque Rationalism
b) Neoclassicism and Romanticism.
c) Spirit of Revolution.
d) Neoclassicism in Literature
- SURVEY OF THE ARTS OF THE 18TH CENTURY
- CONCLUDING STATEMENT
In writing an essay on a subject such as art, and
specially when dealing with a particular period of time,
one has to be aware of the limitations that such a time
restriction imposes on the essay. I am one to believe that
art is a process that deals with human expression, a con-
tinous process influenced by socio-political, economical and
media development. I believe that art is a reaction to
a reaction, a visual or audible expression of an individual
influenced by his time as well as the time before that.
It is hard to analyce a particular period of art history
without going back to a previous age to study the influences
that contributed to the growth and development of the period
in question. Again, we can go back and study the influences
of teh influence and so forth. The point is that art can
not be studied in a series of selected segments bur rather in
a continuum. However, it would be impossible to deal with
art if every time we were to discuss the subject, we would
do it on an unrestrective way. Every essay then would
have to cover all of the art starting from the particular
period in question and going back to the very beginnings of
art. Thus, we face a conflict between the continuous nature
of art and the necessity to select and restrict our discussion
to a particular subject for the purpose of didactics.
Another problem that arises from doing a chronological
report on the arts, results from the fact that art does
not conform itself to a time table. Traditionally, art
historians have divided the study of art history into periods
of one hundred years, this seemed a good and efficient way
to organize the subject matter, however, we find that in many
occasions, a major development in the arts would occurr
in the middle of a century and continue into the next century.
thus, if we limit our discussion to one particular century,
we are bound to cover only a segment of a particular movement
or style due to our chronological limitations.
I have study the previously mentioned limitations and
I have decided to organize the following essay in such a
way so as to deal with the art of teh eighteenth century
in terms of influences and reactions. In the first part
of this essay, I intent to deal with those concepts which
I feel are of major importance to the development of the
art of the eighteenth century. Later, I will write a
survey of the arts; painting, and sculpture, where I will
cover the main artist of each of these fields along with
their major works.
It is my goal to capture the artistic spirit of the
eighteenth century by composing the major works of art of
this period with the events and situations that influenced
MAJOR CONCEPTS OF THE 18TH CENTURY.
In this section of the essay, I will deal with those
concepts that proved to be of consequence to the art of the
It is iMportant to note that the art of the 18th century
either continued, modified or departed from the artistic
ideals of the High Baroque.1 The lack of cohesiveness in
the arts during this period, resulted from social and political
changes which affected the artist as well as the patrons of
Social and political changes, such as; the decline of
the aristocracy in Europe and the rise of the bourgeoisie
to economic power as well as the American and French revolu-
tions, accelerated a shift of audiences from an aristocratic few
to a new growing middle class. A middle class which was
wealthy enough to commission and pay for a great deal of
the art which was done during the 18th century. "Not only
did wealth put the menas of patronage in the hands of the
rising bourgeoisie, but education let the middle class
speak more and more in a cultured accent."2 Thus, we find
that a wealthy and educated middle class, inspired by the
ideas of freedom and equality which the American and French
revolutions helped to expound, becomes the main supporter
of the fine arts for most of the 18th century.
A vestigial aristocracy; the upcoming afluence of a
middle class, combined with concepts of freedom, equality
and political revolution, one factor which contributed to
shape the arts of the 18th century. In terms of a historical
perspective, all these ideas and occurrences are hard to
understand due to the fact that in many instances, they
overoped and occurred con-currently with each other. Thus,
it is best to isolate the major concepts of this period and
to study them individually so as to fully understand their
impact on the arts of the time.
Despotism in Europe and Baroque Rationalism
The first important concept that we will deal with is
tha tof despotism in Europe. This concept expressed itself
in the form of Baroque art during most of the 17th century
and later it expressed itself in the form of Rococo art
in the early parts of the 18th century.
Despotism in Europe can be best associated with the
reign of Louis XIV. During the reign of this monarch, most
social institutions, as well as the arts, where sponsored
and closely supervised by an autocratic minority which
dictated at will the destiny of such affairs. The effects
of such control on the art can be best seen in painting and
music where a highly structured system of rules was laid out
by a few artist, (those who had the favor of the ruling
class), and these rules become the guidelines by which to
judge the arts of the time.3 The visual arts gained a new
dimension during this time in that they become a tool by
which to glorify the king and the official royal style.
Along with the autocratic rule, the 17th century and
the early 18th century experienced a change in the scientific
thoughts of the age as well as a new conceptualization of man
and its relationship to God and the universe. This new way
of perceiving man and the universe has been called Baroque
Rationalism and it resulted from the many scientific
discoveries that took place during this period of time.
Baroque Rationalism proposed that there was a "dynamic
universe"5 which could be understood in logical, mathematical
and mechanical ways. It also porposed man's supremacy due
to man's uncanny ability to understand nature and desipher her
upmost kept secret. Baroque Rationalism proposed a universal
governed by mathematical lows which was waiting to be
understood and eventually conquered than intellectual discipline
by men of logic. The ultimate goal of these men would be
to fully comprehend nature and control it for the benefit
The best example of the effects of Baroque Rationalism
can be seen in the pleasure gardens of Versailles where
the landscape is design to herald man's ability to control
and shape nature to his own desire.
Neoclassicism and Romanticism.
We will deal next with the concepts of Neoclassicism
and Romanticism. This concepts are important to the 18th
century in that they served as the boses for much of the
art of this time.
Traditional, the 18th century has been classified by
art historians as a period of Neoclassic Romanticism.
However, these two concepts (Neoclassic vs. Romanticism)
refer to total different idias. Neoclassicism refers to
the revival of classical antiquity where as Romanticism
refers not to a specific style but rather to a state of mind.
The occurrence of Neoclassicism during the 18th century
resulted from an interest in the past aroused by a general need
to establish an order in the social and religious ideas
of the time. The rediscovery of Green art as the original
source of classic style and the archeological excavations
of Pompei and Herculaneum which first revealed the daily life
of the ancients and their art, helped to promote the
development of Neoclassicism. Neoclassicism was supported
by teh aristocracy thus becoming the "royal style".
Romanticism in the 18th century occurred as a reaction
to Baroque Rationalism. Romanticism was expressed as the
worship of emotions. Emotions as an ene to itself. The
declared aim of the Romantic was to "return to nature",
nature the sublime and the picturesque. According to the
Romantic, if man behaved natural, all eveil would disappear
since eveil was an unnatural condition of man.7 Romanticism
advocated the revolt against established values of any kind. At
an extreme, romantic ideas could not be recorded thru works of
art since pure emotion can only be expreienced thru action.
"Therefore, no artist can be a total romantic since art
demands detachment and self-awareness, at best, the artist
"recollects in tranquility" the emotions experienced in
action. This attitude of recollection led to an interest
in the past which was expressed in art in the form of
stylistic revivals.9 Neoclassicism, as an aspect of
Romanticism, became the most important of the revivals,
thus, the term Neoclassic Romanticism developed.
The Spirit of Revolution; the American and the French Revolution
The true importance of the American and the French
revolution lies on the ideology that was developed as a
result of the revolutionary spirit.
The implementation of concepts such as; democracy in
government, equlaity among men and the undeniable rights of
individuals to pursuit a peaceful and happy life,0 helped
to shake the foundation of the old establishment and force
the way for the development of anew system of government as
well as a new way of thinking with regards to the social and
political roles of man.
The American revolution (1775-85) served as an inspira-
tion for the later French revolution (1789-97) In general,
the American revolution was much more successful than the
French revolution since the American managed to gain their
independence from Great Britain, design and establish a new
form of government and maintain a level of political and
economical stability which enable them to establish themselves
as a nation. The French were not quite as lucky as the
American. The French revolution although inspired by the
same principals which guided the American revolution, failed
to establish a permanent government based on such principles.
Instead, the government created as the result of the French
revolution, degnerated into a tyranical alegarchy under the
leadership of Robespierre (1793), the famous French revolu-
tionary who's government has often been called a "rign of
It is important to note that the success of the American
revolution resulted from such factors as the geographical
independence of America from the mother country, the
economical independence of the colonies which allowed them to
withstand a war with England. and the fact that America
was anew country not burden by a long tradition of government
nor a native nobility. However, the French revolution
took place in a country that had a long tradition of govern-
ment, as well as an established nobility. France stood at the
geographical heart of Europe surrounded by warring nations
willing to take advantage of a weak divided government.
Thus we can see that the failures of the French revolution
resulted from an environment that was less than favorable for
the development of a new government which favor such idiols
as freedom, equality and democracy."
Eventhough the success of the American revolution was
greater than that of the French revolution, it was the French
revolution that had an impact on the fabric of the late
eighteenth century. The American revolution took place
in a country which was to far removed from the realties of
Europe for it to disturb the long established traditions
and social stratification of the European continent. America
and its revolution never constituted a threat to the govern-
ment of the European countries. However, the opposite can
be said of the French revolution which took place in a country
that was geographically located in the center of Europe,
thus, the French revolution become an instant threat to
all the monarchs and despots of France's neighboring countries
and the realities of the revolution affected every living
soul in the Continent of Europe.
The impact of the American and the French revolution can
be measured in terms of immediate and long term effects.
The long range effects of the American and the French
revolution are such that along with the Industrial Revolution,
it constitutes the two principal forces which determined
the beginning of what is now known as the modern world.
The immediate effects of the American and the French
revolution on the people of its time, was that of
contributing to a general feeling of insecurity and ambi-
volence as to the value of society in general, "having cost
off the framework of traditional authority which confine
and sustained him before,"2 man was left ot his own, trying
to find the meaning of human existence, searching constantly
for his own identity. No longer would these be the
cohesiveness of the past. Modern civilization would never
again proceed again by readily identifiable periods. Instead,
we have continuity of movements and counter movements.
The impact of the American and the French revolution
on the arts can similarly be measured in terms of immediate
and long range effects. In terms of its long range effects,
it can be said that the American revolution and specially
the French revolution have served as an unending source
of inspiration for painters sculptors and musicians of later
With regard to the immediate impacts of the American
and the French revolution on the art of its time, we can
say that these revolutions serve to bring a new purpose to
art, specially in the visual arts, where art become the
medium by which to expound the concepts of a revolutionary
society. Art become to love "...a manifesto like message
pointingin the direction of political and social action".1
Social philosophers such as Diderot proclaimed that the function
of art was to "make virtue adorable and vise repugnant."
In search of new symbols, the artis of the time turned to
Neoclassicism once again, but this time, the concept of
Neoclassicism took on a whole new different meaning.
Ancient Rome become the ultimate symbol of revolutionary
protest and Neoclassicism become the proper way by which
to expressed the revolutionary spirit. Painters such as
Jeon Jacques David become famous by depicting in his paintings
scenes of classical Rome which were relevant to the social
and political occurrences of the time.15 In many instances,
the audience could readily identify the subjects of the
paintings with individuals or events of contemporary signifi-
The major difference between the Neoclassicism of the
early eighteenth century as opposed to the Neoclassicism
generated by the idiologies of teh American and the French
REvolution consist of a difference in context. The early
Neoclassicism dealt with a frivolous content and it become
the means by which to glorify the ruling class. The Neoclassicism
of the late 18th century become a tool by which to deal with
the social and political issues of the time. Content was
important to teh overall composition of the works of art of
The effects of the American and the French revolution on
the western world, have greatly influence the direction of
civilization and culture. These two revolutions change
teh course of history by implementing new concepts of govern-
ment, social stratification and personal liberty. The pro-
found effect of the implementation of such concepts can
still be felt in our social and governmental institutions as
well as in our art.
NEOCLASSICISM IN LITERATURE.
For the most part, the writers of the eighteenth
century come under the influence of Neoclassic ideas as the
result of their great admiration for the literature produced
under the Roman Emperor Augustus. The majority of the eigh-
teenth century writers deliberately followed the form and
content of Ancient Greek and Roman models. It was not
until the end of the eighteenth century that writers began
to break away from these Neo-classical influences and move
into a Romantic period.
Most of the people, and specially teh intellectuals
of the early eighteenth century were pleased with themselves
for they thought that they were living in the best of all
possible worlds. "The complacency of the eighteenth century
was due partially to the works of scientist and philosophers
who really belonged to the previous century. This age
idolized the mathematician philosopher Sir Issac Newton
(1642-1727) whose Mathematical Principals of Natural Philosophy
(1687) provided the framework of a system that seemed
capable of explaining everything in the universe. So great
was Newton's influence that Alexander Pope, one of the
greatest poet of the age, was prompt to write, "God said,
Let Newton be! and all was light'."1 However, it was the
work of other writers and philosophers beside Newton that
truly contributed to the intellectual climate of the age.
Works such as; John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding
(1690), David Hume's, Treatise of Human Nature and Jean
Jacques Rousseau's idias on the "social controls" and the
"noble savage", forged the literary spirit of the eighteenth
It was the work of Newton as well as other scientist
and philosophers that led to a philosophy which conceived the
universe as a smoothly running machine first set in motion
by a vaguely benevalent deity. So long as man understood
the workings of this machine, he could be said to be the
master of it.17 This philosophy become the prevailing force
for much of the literature of the eighteen century.
The literature of the eighteenth century was basically
a public literature, that is to say, a literature written
for the enjoyment of a small and compact society of important
and influential persons. This was a literature that could
be enjoyed in a theater or read out loud in a drawing room
or some other public space. Now, an atmosphere of this kind
encourages comedy, satire in both verser and prose, pleasant
little essays and criticism, but it was bad for poetry.
Shakespeare's sonnets or Keat's odes would have seemed
embarrassing to this society, which did not expect from
literature anything so private or intimately revealing. This
was very much a public literature, not representing the deeply
felt impressions, hopes, or fear of one individual but the
outlooks and values of a limited society.
During the later part of the century the direction of the
literary world changed. Readers were no longer confined to
a small selective class. The new middle class, specially
its women members, took to buying and reading books. Soon
thereafter, the dependence of authors upon patronage from
the aristocracy siezed and the authors began to depend more
and more on the financial gains obtained from a wide ranging
public. The novel, a comparatively new literary form,
gained great popularity. Comedy and fiction become the mot
popular themes of the literature of this time.
The later part of the eighteenth century was marked
by a change in the literary mood of the time. Romanticism,
sparked by social and political events such as; the develop-
ment of the American and the French Revolution, as well as,
the desintegration of old established values, led to a
breakthrough in the content and expression of most literary
works. This breakthrough was most obvious in poetry, for
it is in the poetry of this time that we find poems dealing
more and more with the personal and private experiences of the
The art of the eighteenth century was influenced by the
literature of its time in that literature become the means
by which the society and specially the middle class, become
educated as to the wasy of art and its propoer expressions.
Literature exposed the public to the art of th ancients,
their way of life and their appreciation for the arts.
Sometimes, literary works served to inspire artistic creations
by painters and sculptors. Sometimes a work of art would
inspire a literary composition.
The literature and the art of the eighteenth century
went hand in hand, each one influencing the other and in their
own turns, reactigg to the spirit of the time.
SURVEY OF THE ART OF THE EIGHTEEN CENTURY
In this section of the essay, I will deal with the
paintings and the sculpture of the 18th century. I have
chosen to give a general introduction to the topic at hand
followed by an outline that briefly discusses the major
artist of the 18th century in their respective fields.
THE PAINTINGS OF THE 18TH CENTURY.
The paintings of the 18th century clearly reflect the
spirit of its time since it is the nature of painting, the
most flexible and independent of the arts, to be of all the
arts the one that reacts more quickly to the influences of its
environment.18 The paintings of the 18th century showed
a great variety of style, content and expression, from the
decorative paintings of its early parts to expressionism and
surrealism of Francisco Goya at the very end of the century.
During this century, painting was used as a medium for
propaganda for the aristocracy as well as a way by which to
expound the needs for social change. The subjects for the
paintings of this century range from the most frivolous
subjects to the most sublime. It has been said that the
art of the 18th century produced some of the best and some
of teh worst art of all time,, painting is no exception.
For purposes of classification, we can divide the 18th
century into three stages, the first stage is that of the
decorative painting of teh early part of the century, followed
by a period of change in content and spirit that was greatly
influence by the upcoming middle class which culminated
in the last stage. that of a military neoclassicism inspired
by the revolutionary spirit of the end of the century.
OUTSTANDING PAINTERS OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
1. Antoine Watteau (1683-1721)
2. Francois Baucker (1703-1770)
3. Jean Honore Trogonard (1732-1806)
4. J.B.S. Chordin (1699-1779)
5. Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)
6. William Hogarth (1697-1762)
7. Jean Baptiste Greuge (1725-1805)
8. Jacques Louis David (1748-1825)
9. Francisco Goya (1746-1828)
ANTOINE WATTEAU (1683-1721)
The first great French painter to come out of the
eighteenth century. He found the bases for his art in the
works of Peter Paul Rubens the Flemish painter.
Deprived from the official recognition and the financial
patronage of the aristocracy, Watteau lived in poverty conscious
of the artificial world of the court of Louis XV. A world
to which he did not belong.
The frivolous entertainment of the aristocratic society
of his time become Watteau's special subject matter. Time
and time again, he portrayed the fashion and manners
established by the Court and the artificial life that resulted
from such absolutism. Eventhough he recorded teh entertain-
ment of a gay society, his painting seemed to be ditached
from the action. His way of showing his separation from this
type of world.
Watteau's paintings show a dynamic life force and a
sensitive orchestration of colors which he learned from studying
Ruben. His greatest painting, The Embarkation for the Island
of Cythera (1718) was directly inspired by Ruben's painting,
the Garden of Love. This painting shows Watteau graceful
handling of color as well as his imaginative settings.
Where as the paintings of Ruben belong to the real world,
Watteau paintings portrait a world of the imagination. His
paintings expressed the best of the Rococo art. The superb
decorative quality of his paintings, serve as a inspiration
for the next generation of painters.
1. Embarkation for the Island of Cytherta
2. Study of Figures
3. Music Party
4. Le Champ Elysees
FRANCOIS BOUDER (1703-1770)
The favorite painter of Mme. de Pompadour, worked in a
gayer vein than Watteau. His paintings show all the ideals
of femenine charm and all of its artifecialities. Bouder
was also influenced by Ruben but his expression are different
from Ruben in that Bouder expressed love in his painting
not as a strong passion but rather as a sophisticated
flirtation. Voluptious mature womanhood is replaced by a
Bouder was the predecessor of Tragonard and his influence
can be clearly seen in the works of the later painter.
1. Toilet of Venus.
2. Diana Bathing
3. Madam Bergeret
4. Venus Consoling Love
JEAN HONORE TRAGONARD. (1732-1806)
Tragonard was a creation of his time. His art best
exemplifies the hedonistic society of the early eighteenth
century. Unlike Watteau, where paintings capture the cele-
brations of the aristocracy with some degree of detachment,
Tragonard happily expresses the artificial pleasantries
of the privilidge few of a monarchial system. In paintings
such as; The Lover Crowned and The Swing, Tragonard portrayed
cultivated palace grounds, a light that glows among the
trees with a theatrical glow warms and color and the drama
of love, not real but artificial.
Tragonard reached his zenith of popularity during the
early part of the eighteenthe century, but his inability to
adapt to the new spirit of art which grew out of the French
revolution caused him to be rejected by the artistic circles
of teh late 18th century.
1. The Lover Crowned
2. The Swing
4. Storming of the Citadel
J.B.S. CHARDIN (1699-1779)
Chardin, much like Watteau, was influenced by seventeenth
century Dutch masters. His bourgoeis life knew very little
of teh cosmopoliton sophistication of such painters like
Tragonard. He painted only the most familiar objects;
homely utensils, bunches of vegetable or fruit. Chardin's
realitees where those things which he could touch or smell
and in his paintings he treed to capture the texture of common
things. An honest craftman, Chardin painted slowly and with
scrupulous application. The proper arrangement of balanced
masses and the integration of space and color in a harmonious
design are qualities always present in the work of Chardin.
He is definitely one of the greatest master of pictorial art.
The House of Cords
Kitchen Still Life.
THOMAS GAINESBOROUGH (1727-1788)
He is considered primarily for his portraits of the
wealthy classes. He capture with superb taste the elegance
and nobility of the aristocracy. Paintings such as the
Honorable Mrs. Graham and Mrs. Siddons showed his peculiar
skill of setting forth the pride and charm of the woman of the
The Honorable Mrs. Graham.
Robert Andrew and his Wife.
Mrs. R.B. Sheridan
WILLIAM HOGARTH (1697-1762)
The greatest of the English painters of his time. His
art was indicative of the new forces that were developing
in Europe. His painting made a comment on the life and
mannners of the English society. Where Gainsborough portrayed
the beauty of the aristocracy, Hogarth employed a humorous
didactic art to reveal the flows of the English social
system. In paintings such as; the Countess Dressing Room
and the Orgy, Hogarth showed the chaos of the British social
system. His art took the form of criticism and become an
instrument of social reform. This method of using art
was original and unprecedented.
The Countess Dressing Room.
The Orgy. Scene III from Rake's Progress
Marriage Contract Marriage a la Mode
JEAN BAPTISTE GREUZE (1775-1805)
The painter of "the picture that tells a story". He
expounded on the natural goodness of the rustic life in
detail dramatic paintings like the Village Bride. His
exaggerated sentimentality went beyond Chardins expression
of the domestic life. Greuze paintings showed a conscious
effort to promote the virtues of the rustic and homely life.
The main importance of Greuze works lies on the fact
that his art become popular as the result of teh need of a
society that was tire of the trivialities of a restrictive
His technical influences of his painting come from the
works of Dutch and Flemish painters.
The Village Bride
JACKQUES LOUIS DAVID (1748-1845)
Winner of the Prix de Rome, David ultimately become
the artistic dictator of France. His training in the Romon
Acodemy directed him towords a classical style that was model
after the works of Paussin, the Florentine painter of the
David paintings where hailed by the revolutionary
society of the late eighteenth century as a symbol of the
newly established republic. In his painting The Oath of the
Horatii, David depicts the three sons of Horatious swearing
to take up the arms in the defence of their republic. The
highly expressive style of his paintings dealing with heroic
social qualities were quite removed from the superficial
decorativeness of the painting of the aristocratic art.
David become the official state painter under the Consul-
ship of Napoleon and his style become the dominant mode of
expression of its times.
The exactitude by which David painted gave his composition
a tremendous feeling for sculptural form. The clarity and
content of his paintings were very well accepted by the
military caste that required a symbol of itself dignified
by history and legend.
The Oath of teh Horatii
The Death of Socrates
The Death of Marat
View of the Luxembourg Gardens
Francisco Goya (1746-1828)
A great romantic, Goya's earlier works belong to the
rococo decorative tradition but his individualistic nature
led to an art that would influence the major pectorial
development of the century.
Goya was appointed court painter but this event did
not hamper his artistic development. Goya's work is highly
personal and moralistic in nature, his greatest ability was
that of a suggestion and appealing to the imagination of
the receiver. Late in his life, Goya witnessed the horrors
of teh French invation to Spain and he made it his task to
capture the horrors of this event. In paintings like the
Third of May 1808, Goya described the brutality of the war
and the senseless waste f life of such an event.
Goya has become one of the greatest painters of all
time due to the expressive quality of his paintings and his
ability to convey the fatia of war.
1. The Third of May 1808
2. Why etching
3. Stanuly of Charles the Fourth
4. Saturn Devouring his Son
5. Infanta Maria Josefa
6. The Colossus.
The Sculpture of the 18th Century.
Unlike painting, the sculpture of the 18th century is
not truly representative of its time, and this is due to
the nature of sculpture which is subject to patronage and to
inherent limitation of the media it uses.
The sculpture of the 18th century never fully developed
as a sculpture of its own becuase of the many influences
that limited the sculptors of this time in the creation of
original work. The influences of the baroque sculpture of
Bernini and Borromini were so strong, that the sculptors
of teh 18th century were never able to liberate themselves
from such influences. Thus, their work seen in a historical
perspective seems to be a combination of classical and
Another problem affecting the sculpture of the 18th
century resulted from the very small scale of the work. Unlike
classical times, the sculpture of the 18th century dealt
with small decorative objects that were meant to be appreciated
along with other objects.
Consequently, much of this work has been lost or stolen
during the many political and economical revolutions that
have affected Europe since the 18th century.
OUTSTANDING SCULPTORS OF THE EIGHTEEN CENTURY
1. Jean Baptiste Pigalle (1714-1785)
2. Etienne Talconet (1716-1791)
3. Clodion (Claude Michael) (1738-1814)
4. Jean Antoine Houdon (1741-1828)
5. Antonio Canova (1757-1822)
6. Bertel Thorwaldsen (1770-1844)
Etienne Maurice Talconet. (1716-1791)
This French sculptor was greatly influenced by the
tradition of Bernini. Talconet demonstrated in his sculp-
tures a dazzling vertuosity, emotional unrestrain and pic-
torial reality in images and textures that made him one
oflthe greatest scuptors of his time. He was also influenced
b Puget the great French representative of the Baroque
tradition. Thsu her sculptures showed a brutal physical
anguish and an interpiercing diagonal composition which
associates his works to the Baroque tradition.
Some of Talconet's sculpture become so popular that his
contemporaries demanded small reproductions of these works
in every medium.
Talconet was not very prolific but the range of his work
was extraordinary since he was ablt to handle projects from
diminutive to monumental scale as well as a wide variety
of topics. His lost and greatest commission, a huge statue
of Peter the Great, symbolizes two centuries of sculpture.
In this statue Talconet re-concele elements of Baroque and
Neoclassical sculpture by providing a graphically picturesque
setting and slowing the strenous motion of the horse all
of which was combined with a classicism inspired by an
imperial image that recalls the authority of antiquity.
Equestrion Monument to Peter the Great
Pygmalion and Galatea
Clodion (Claude Michael) 1738-1814
Clodion, a winner of the Gran Prix de Sculptura at
the Royal Academy in Rome, was not an innovative sculptor
but rather he took Baroque sculpture to its ultimate
The subject for his sculpures were typical of the favorite
topics of the time; nymphs, fauns and bacchonts. Clodion's
favorite medium was terra-cotta and in this .medium, he
copture the elegonce and hedonism that was so characteristic
of the 18th century. He worked better at a smaller scale
where his works seemed to come alive.
After the French revolution, Cloidon adopted the Neo-
classical style of Conova. This was mainly due to the pressures
that were excerted on him by the new society.
Nymph and Satyr
Jean Baptiste Pigalli (1741-1828)
Historically, the work of Pigalli stands at the threshold
of Neoclassicism due to his tendencies towards a strongly
defined contours and relief like arrangements. But the
main importance of Pigalli works lies in his persisting
realism and the power of his characterization.
In the sculpture of his Mercury Pigalli reconciled
Rococo groce with the idealism of Neoclassicism. This statue
shows tremendous realism and anatomical details. He was
also very much in demand for small scale work of decorative
or sentimental nature. He was also in demand as a portraitist.
Patronized by Mme Pompadour and later by the King himself.
Pigalli serve as court sculptor for Louis the XV although he
was not entitled so officially.
The French Revolution brought to destruction most of
his works including the monument of Louis XV in Reims
considered to be his most powerful sculpture.
The Citizen (Monument to Louis XV)
Antonio Conova 1757-1822
Italion sculptor born in Venice, perhaps no artist has
been more exalted in his own age than Canova. During his
time he was considered the supreme arbiter of taste. His
works were subject ot the influences of the time showing
traces of Neoclassicism as well as Romanticism in his
sculptures. His statue of Psyche and Cupid is a prime example
of this conflict that existed in his work. Historically
Conova has been greatly criticize by this compromise that
was inherent in his art.
Cupid and Psyche
Apollo and Morpessa
It is obvious that there are a lot of elements that
contributed to the art of the 18th century which have not
been thoroughly covered in this report. However, the nature
of the topic in hand, makes it difficult to totally analyse
and deal with this subject. At best, I have tried to capture
the spirit of the arts of the 18th century as it was expressed
by the paintings and sculptures of its time. I have given
special emphasis to the socio-political and economical
factors that affected the art of this time since I believe
that by knowing these factors, one can readily understand
the reasons why the arts developed the way they did. Also,
I believe that art needs to be understood in the context
of its time. It is possible to recognize an unfamiliar
work of art an associating it with a particular period of
history by observing the qualities that are expressed by
the work of art itself and associating them with the social
environment of a particular historic time. I sincerely
hope that this report has shown the deep interrelationship
of art and its environment and the necessity to understand
both in the light of a historical perspective.
Art, Music and Ideas.
Holt Rinehart and Winston Inc. @ 1975
Art in the Western World
David M. Robe
Harper and Brothers Publishers @ 1935
A History of Western Art
John Ives Sewell
Henry Holts and Co. @ 1953
Transformation in Late Eighteen Century Art
Princeton University Press @ 1967
Key Monuments of the History of Art.
Prentice Hall Inc. @ 1959
History of Art
Prentice Hall Inc. @ 1962
1. See Art Music and Idea by William Flemming pag 279
2. See Art Music and Idea by William Fleming pag 274
"the Bourgeois Influence"
3. Charles Lebrum, the court painter during the time of
Louis XIV commanded such power that for all practical
purposes, he was the dictator of the arts in France.
4. "Baroque invention led to refinements in navigation,
to improvements in the telescope and microscope for
the exploration of distant and minute regions of space,
the barometer for the measurement of air pressure,
the thermometer for the recording of temperature changes
and the arenometer for calculation of the forces of the
wind. Astronomers were preoccupied with the study of
planetary motion..." This quote from Art, Music and
Ideas by William Fleming, pag 268, best exemplifies the
scientific spirit that led to Baroque Rationalism.
5. The concept of a "dynamic universe" proposed by the
Baroque Rationalism was of great significance to the
arts. The idea of a universe in motion circling the
sun influence painters and sculptors to create master-
pieces that expressed this concept of dynamics. The
wirlwind effect of the Baroque art resulted from such
6. The word Romanticism derive from the word romances
which refers to tales told in the romance language,
not in latin. The adventures of King Arthur and the
Holy Grail is an example of such a tale.
8. See History of Art by H.W. Janson pag 448
9. The Romantic concept has some inherent contradictions
in that romanticism advocates the revolt against
established values, thus, the revolt against style.
However, remanticism sparked an interest in the post
which resulted in the revival of previous styles.
10. It is important to note that these are not new concepts.
However, the idia of using these concepts to form a
governing structure was indeed a new concept in the
development of world governments.
11. Th new government of France under the direction of
Robespierre suffered from internal strife and total
political and economical unbalance. Not until the
Consulate of Napoleon of 1799 did France manage to
regain some of its rpevious stabelety. However, at
the end of the Napoleonic era, France was once again
ruined politically and economically.
12. See History of Art by H.W. Janson pag 447.
13. The heroism of the music of Ludwig Van Beethoven and
the romanticism of the music of Piotr Ilich Tchaikowsky
are prime example of the effects that the idios
generated by the American and the French revolution had
on these two great composers of a later age. Other
work of art literally inspired by the American and the
French revolution are Eugene Delacroix's painting
"Liberty Leading the People" and Francois Rude's
sculpture "Deporture of the Volunteers", (right stone
of the Arc of Triumph.)
14. Art, Mucis and Ideas William Fleming pag 285
15. Jacques Louis David Oath of the Horatii 1784 and
Lictors Bringing Back to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons
16. Quote from "Adventures in English Literature" pag 270
17. The concept is the essence of Baroque rationalism.
18. Often, sculpture and architecture are faced with the
problem of patronage and the need to satisfy public
aspirations. Architecture specially, being the most
public of the arts. Painting is much more flexible
in that the expence of the canvas, oils and pigments
have allowed through time even the poorest of painters
to pursuit their own style, if not publically at least
List of Slides.
Painting. Audiovisual NO.
Painter; Antonie Watteau (1685-1721)
1) Le Champs Elysses
2) The Embarkation to Cythere
3) The Music Party
Painter; Francois Bouder (1705-1770)
1) Madame Bergered
2) Diana Bathing
3) the Toilet of Venus
4) Venus Consoling Love
Painter; Jean Honore Pragonard ( 1732- 1806)
2) The Swing
9 A ^?roqp!1ned
4) Love Letter
Painter; J.B. Chardin
1) Bread and Wine
2) Day Meal
3) The Grace
4) The Kitchen Maid
Painter; Thomas Gainborough (1727-1788)
1) The Honorable Mrs. Graham
2) Lady Innes
5) Blue Boy
Painter; William Hogar'th(1697-1762)
1) Marriage Contract
2) Rakes Progress
3) Early in the Morning
Painter; Jean Baptiste Greuze ( 1775-1805)
1) Dead Bed
2) Village Bride
3) Twelth Cake
Painter; Jacques Louis David(1748- 1845)
1) The Oath of the Horatti
2) Socrates Drinking the Hemlock
3) Death of Marat
4) Napoleon at St. Bernard Pass
Painter; Francisco Goya (1746-1848)
1) Flying Kites
2) The Family of Charles the Fourth
3) Infanta Maria Josefa
4) The Colossus
5) Executios on May 1808