Art in the Enlightenment Era

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The Enlightenment Era: All over the Map With the great leaps that were made in the areas of math and science during the 1600’s by such great names as Isaac Newton, a new era was ushered in called the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment predominated during the 18th century in England and France, although its ideals also held power in the rest of Europe and into America. Enlightenment thinkers borrowed their ideas of evidence-based rationality from Newton, who conducted his scientific experiments with a focus on evidence and concrete data. His focus was on the tangible natural world with an avoidance of the supernatural and unproven. (Kleiner 589) John Locke was also an important influence on Enlightenment thought as he focused on the goodness of the individual and his natural rights. (589) Thus the Enlightenment was characterized by the ideas of rationality and reason applied to all facets of life. Man was free from the restrictions of the church and despotic governments. The major revolutions that occurred in America and France at this time were all spurred on by Enlightenment principles. Some of the key players in the Enlightenment were Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau, David, and Jefferson. The increased interest in science and reason inspired by the Enlightenment gave rise to the Industrial Revolution in England that would begin to take shape in mid-1700. New technologies that made use of coal and steam fascinated the people. One artist who held just such a fascination and who gave science and discovery a prominent place in his artwork was Joseph Wright. He favored dramatic scenes that displayed “the wonders of scientific knowledge” to an enthralled audience. (Kleiner 591) His ideas reflected the beliefs of Voltaire, often considered the epitome of the Enlightenment. Voltaire was convinced that mankind could not advance forward until people could expand
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