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Frank Felsenstein

(b Milston, Wilts, May 1, 1672; d London, June 17, 1719).

English writer and politician. He was educated at Charterhouse School and Queen’s College, Oxford, receiving his MA in 1693. Between 1699 and 1703 he travelled on the Continent; in his Remarks upon Several Parts of Italy (1705) he noted that Italy was ‘the great school of Musick and Painting’, and a primary purpose of his tour was ‘to compare the natural face of the country with the Landskips the [classical] Poets have given us of it’. His Remarks became a vade-mecum on artistic matters for 18th-century British travellers.

Although he was active as a politician (he was appointed Under-Secretary of State in 1706 and was an MP, 1708–19), Addison’s greatest influence was as an educator and popularizer of ideas on taste and culture, which he achieved through the periodical essay. He contributed to The Tatler, a thrice-weekly half-sheet founded by his friend Richard Steele (1672–1729), which ran from ...


Howard Caygill

(b Berlin, June 17, 1714; d Frankfurt an der Oder, May 26, 1762).

German philosopher. He was educated at Halle University where he taught philosophy between 1735 and 1740; he then moved to the University of Frankfurt an der Oder, where he taught until his death. He is remembered for the invention of philosophical aesthetics (he introduced the term ‘aesthetics’), based initially on Cartesian principles. His writings also include works in logic, metaphysics, ethics and political philosophy. With the development of a philosophical aesthetics in the Meditationes philosophicae de nonnullis ad poema pertinentibus (Reflections on Poetry; 1735) and the incomplete Aesthetica (1750–58), Baumgarten revolutionized both the dominant early Enlightenment philosophy of Christian Wolff (1679–1754) and the philosophy of art. In contrast to Joachim Christoph Gottsched’s reduction of the judgement and creation of works of art to the Wolffian notion of reason, Baumgarten extended the bounds of reason to include the experience of art. He did so by identifying beauty with sensible perfection, defining this as an aesthetic perfection that differs from the rational perfection of logic but is no less valid....


(b Paris, Nov 1, 1636; d Paris, March 13, 1711).

French writer. His influence on art was indirect: although he made no claim to knowledge of art, he unwittingly played a part in the development of historical painting during the second part of Louis XIV’s reign and particularly in the development of the theory of art in the 18th century. At the beginning of the personal reign of Louis XIV he was at first excluded from the distribution of pensions awarded through the mediation of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, the particular function of which was to lay down the iconography to be used in works that the King had commissioned; through Charles Perrault, it to some degree dominated the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. In 1683, after Boileau had finally obtained admission to the Académie des Inscriptions, it ceased to deal with iconography, and from then on artists working for the King enjoyed greater freedom.

However, Boileau’s main influence on French art was through his didactic poem ...


Angelica Goodden

(b Langres, Haute-Marne, Oct 5, 1713; d Paris, July 31, 1784).

French writer, philosopher and critic. He was a man of the most wide-ranging talents: novelist, dramatist, philosopher and writer on science, mathematics and music. In his lifetime he was probably best known as editor of the Encyclopédie (1751–65)—an encyclopedic dictionary of the arts, sciences and trades—and came comparatively late to art criticism. Characteristically determined to express a personal view on art and to attempt to justify his judgements, he had his only noteworthy precursor in Etienne La Font de Saint-Yenne; periodical journalism devoted to the arts in 18th-century France yielded no commentator to match Diderot in vigour and independence of mind. He was early acquainted with the writings of Leonardo da Vinci, Roland Fréart, Jean Cousin (i), Roger de Piles and Charles Le Brun, and the theory of drama he published in 1757, the Entretiens sur ‘Le Fils naturel’, reveals a keen interest in the relations between the visual arts and the theatre. Diderot was convinced that taste is the product of experience and observation, a notion he developed in his ...


(b Beauvais, Dec 21, 1670; d Paris, March 23, 1742).

French historian, critic and diplomat. He served as a diplomat under Louis XIV and the Régence; having been rewarded with an ecclesiastical benefice, he devoted himself to writing. His principal work, Réflexions critiques sur la poésie et sur la peinture (1719), was important for aesthetics in France and remained in use as a popular textbook until the 19th century. It owed much of its success to the way in which it echoed some of the conflicts in the Ancients and Moderns, Quarrel of the, in which Dubos largely took the side of the Ancients. He did not, however, put forward a unified theory of imitation of antiquity but offered a collection of discussions of the diverse manifestations of artistic genius. He considered a work of art as an object of instinctive judgement by perceptive individuals, whose response is based not on a reasoned knowledge of the rules of art but on a ‘sixth sense’ possessed by everyone....


Werner Szambien

(b Paris, Sept 18, 1760; d Thiais, Dec 31, 1834).

French architect, teacher and writer. He was one of the most influential teachers of his time, and his radically rationalist approach, which emphasized priority of function and economy of means, was expressed in analytical writings that remained popular into the 20th century. He studied under Pierre Panseron (fl 1736) and from 1776 in the office of Etienne-Louis Boullée. He also took courses with Julien-David Le Roy at the Académie d’Architecture and participated in competitions under the guidance of Jean-Rodolphe Perronet. He twice came second in the Prix de Rome: in 1779 for a museum and in 1780 for a school. During the 1780s he worked as a draughtsman for Boullée and for the engraver Jean-François Janinet. In 1788 construction began in the Rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, Paris, of his Maison Lathuille, a building with Néo-Grec decoration but with a layout characterized by its extreme simplicity. About 1790 he executed a series of drawings entitled ...


(b Frankfurt am Main, Aug 28, 1749; d Weimar, March 22, 1832).

German writer, statesman, scientist, historian and theorist. By virtue of his prodigious literary output, his writings on art (notably in collaboration with Friedrich Schiller), his patronage as chief minister of Weimar, the extraordinary variety of his interests, and his sheer longevity, he had a profound influence on European culture.

Goethe began writing in the late 1760s, when the Romantic reaction against Neo-classicism had already started. The Rococo view of the Classical heritage, which stressed the formal elegance and rationality of the Greeks, was being dismantled by such writers as Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Joachim Winckelmann and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, all of whom influenced Goethe. Herder’s study of folk art, Homer and the Bible concurred with Goethe’s celebration of Shakespeare—in Rede zum Shäkespears Tag (1771)—and of Gothic art—in Von deutscher Baukunst (1772)—in acknowledging the role of passion and daemonic energy in art. These elements, it was claimed, were also present in Classical art; this contrasted with the Neo-classical emphasis on its rationality. This period of Goethe’s life produced such characteristically Romantic poems as ...


Howard Caygill

(b Mohrungen, Aug 25, 1744; d Weimar, Dec 18, 1803).

German theorist. He was the most consistent and influential critic of German Enlightenment philosophy and aesthetic theory. His impeccable Enlightenment pedigree as a student of Kant at the University of Königsberg in the early 1760s and his acquaintance with Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert during his visit to Paris in 1769 were combined with a friendship and sympathy for the person and works of Johann Georg Hamann and other professed opponents of the Enlightenment. His insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the Enlightenment enabled him to offer an alternative theoretical basis for the work of the younger Sturm und Drang writers of the 1770s, headed by Goethe. In 1776 he was appointed at Goethe’s behest to the post of General Superintendent of the Lutheran Church in Weimar, where he remained until his death.

Although Herder published in several fields, ranging from the philosophy of language and epistemology to aesthetics and theology, all he wrote revolved around a critique of the ahistorical character of the German Enlightenment. His thought combines two main elements: the recognition that reason is grounded in sentiment, a position later described as ‘metacritical’; and the perception that the grounding of reason is the product of a specific history, and cannot be understood apart from it....


(b Berwicks [now Borders Reg.], 1696; d Edinburgh, Dec 27, 1782).

Scottish philosopher, lawyer and judge. He wrote on a wide variety of topics including literary criticism, rhetoric, philosophy, law, natural history, education and agriculture. He played a significant role in the Enlightenment discussions of aesthetic feeling and judgement, especially the analysis of beauty and Sublime, the. His wide-ranging work also contributed to 18th-century debates about value and differences in the fine arts (see also Ut pictura poesis) and the development of taste. The Elements of Criticism (1762), his most famous work, deals with such topics as emotions and passions, beauty, grandeur, the sublime, novelty, narration and taste, and it was widely used as a textbook on criticism and rhetoric. While covering painting, sculpture, music, gardening and architecture, his views on the hierarchy of the fine arts led him to devote most of his attention to drama and the artistic use of language. The work as a whole investigates the ‘sensitive part’ of human nature....


Alan Code

(b Edinburgh, April 28, 1711; d Edinburgh, Aug 25, 1776).

Scottish philosopher and historian. Although he studied and became well known in France, he lived mostly in Edinburgh and is regarded as a leading figure in the Enlightenment in Scotland. His work was influential in the development of theories based on empirical knowledge, contributing in particular to 18th-century debates about beauty, taste and judgement. In his Treatise of Human Nature (1739, II.i.8), Hume held that beauty is a form, or structure of parts, that produces pleasure, and can be discerned only through the operation of a sense of beauty or a faculty of taste. His Essays Moral, Political and Literary address, among other topics, the cultural conditions of the production of art (‘Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Science’), the connection between art and morality (‘On Refinement in the Arts’), taste (‘Of the Delicacy of Taste and Passion’) and also the technique and style of writing. The problem as to whether taste can be right or wrong, first raised in ...


Alan Code

(b Drumalig, Co. Down, Aug 8, 1694; d Dublin, Aug 8, 1746).

Irish philosopher. He attended the University of Glasgow, after which he headed a Presbyterian youth academy in Dublin for about a decade, and then held the chair of moral philosophy at Glasgow from 1730 until his death. He was best known as a moral sense theorist, and was heavily influenced by the theory of perception formulated by John Locke (1632–1704), as well as by the idea of a disinterested, moral sense conceived by Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury. His writings give a central role to sensation and feeling in their account of morality and aesthetic value, and as such constitute an important moment in the formation of Enlightenment views about the relation between emotion and rationality. Human nature, in Hutcheson’s theory, involves both such external senses as sight and hearing, and internal senses including the moral sense and those connected with beauty, harmony, grandeur (Sublime, the...


Patrick Gardiner

(b Königsberg [now Kaliningrad], April 22, 1724; d Königsberg, Feb 12, 1804).

German philosopher. He spent most of his adult life as a member of the University of Königsberg; he enrolled as a student there in 1740 and was accepted as a Privatdozent in 1755, becoming professor of logic and metaphysics in 1770. His contribution to aesthetics and the philosophy of art, which forms one part of the far-reaching enquiry he pursued into the fundamental conditions of human thought and experience, is contained in the last of the three famous Critiques he published between 1780 and 1790. The first of these, the Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Riga, 1781), was primarily concerned with establishing the status and scope of theoretical knowledge, while the second, the Kritik der praktischen Vernunft (Riga, 1788), was addressed to investigating the nature and foundations of morality. In the third, his Kritik der Urteilskraft, Kant undertook the task of providing an account of what was involved in, and presupposed by, judgements of ...


David Rodgers

(b Wormsley Grange, Hereford & Worcs, Feb 11, 1751; d London, April 23, 1824).

English writer, connoisseur and collector (see fig.). He was the son of a clergyman from a wealthy dynasty of iron-masters. His father died in 1764, and shortly afterwards he inherited a considerable estate from his uncle, which ensured his financial independence. He was a sickly child and was educated at home, becoming well versed in Classical history, Latin and Greek. In 1772 he travelled in France and Italy and was abroad again in 1776, touring Switzerland with the landscape painter John Robert Cozens. The following year he travelled to Sicily on an archaeological expedition taking with him the painters Philipp Hackert and his pupil, the amateur artist Charles Gore (1729–1807). Knight kept a detailed journal (Weimar, Goethe- & Schiller-Archv) illustrated by his companions and on his return to England commissioned Cozens and Thomas Hearne to paint watercolours (London, BM) from Hackert’s and Gore’s sketches (London, BM). It seems probable that the journal was intended for publication and that the expedition may have had an entrepreneurial aspect, as archaeology was a fashionable subject and the Sicilian sites largely unexplored....


Andrea M. Kluxen

(b Zurich, Nov 15, 1741; d Zurich, Jan 2, 1801).

Swiss cleric, writer and theorist. He studied with the Anglophile scholar Johann Jakob Bodmer, who also taught his friend Henry Fuseli (see Fuseli, Henry). After travels in northern Germany with Fuseli, in 1769 Lavater became a deacon and in 1775 a pastor in Zurich, where he subsequently remained. His collection of paintings (chiefly portraits) and drawings was much admired, and he was frequently consulted on artistic matters. He published poetry such as Christliche Lieder (1776–80) and several volumes of religious reflections.

Lavater’s most influential work (to which his friend Goethe also contributed) was Physiognomische Fragmente zur Beförderung der Menschenkenntnis und Menschenliebe (1775–8), a book which popularized physiognomics both within the German-speaking world and beyond. Physiognomics, the art of judging character from facial features, was part of a tradition stemming from Aristotle and the pattern books of Charles Le Brun. It was concerned not with mimicry and the expressive movements of the face but with the traits laid bare by the enduring features. Lavater, influenced by the art theorist Johann Georg Sulzer’s view of the body as the mirror of the soul, equated physical beauty with moral goodness. The majority of the illustrations in the ...


Howard Caygill

(b Kamenz, Jan 21, 1729; d Brunswick, Feb 15, 1781).

German philosopher, critic and playwright. He was the leading representative of the German Enlightenment in the theatre and in criticism. Lessing studied theology at the University of Leipzig from 1746 to 1748, changing his faculty to medicine shortly before moving to Berlin. He was in Berlin intermittently until 1760, when he became secretary to the Prussian General von Tauentzien in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland), remaining there until 1765. In 1767 he went to the liberal trading city of Hamburg in the hope of founding a German national theatre, and from 1770 until his death was the librarian to the Prince of Brunswick at Wolfenbüttel.

During Lessing’s first stay in Berlin he contributed a series of brilliant articles to the Vossische Zeitung, a journal of popular philosophy dedicated to the propagation of Enlightenment ideas. His first major critical works were his contributions to Briefe, die neueste Literatur betreffend (1759–65), along with Moses Mendelssohn (...


Martin Postle

(b 1747; d Yazor, Hereford & Worcs, Sept 14, 1829).

English landowner and writer. He was one of the leading promoters of the Picturesque, a quasi-aesthetic theory concerning the codification of types of landscape; this enjoyed a brief popularity in England at the end of the 18th century. In 1794 Price published An Essay on the Picturesque. The book was written to expand and redefine observations on the nature of Picturesque Beauty made during the 1770s and 1780s by the Rev. William Gilpin. In his essay of 1794 Price employed the term Picturesque to describe a category of landscape that evoked sensations that were not contained within the existing polarities of Sublime and Beautiful, established earlier in the century by Edmund Burke (A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful; 1757). According to Price ‘the two opposite qualities of roughness, and of sudden variation, joined to that of irregularity, are the most efficient causes of the picturesque’. Price loved systems and organized objects in nature—trees, animals and dwellings—into tables according to their level of picturesqueness. Thus in his view hovels are more picturesque than cottages, cows more picturesque than horses, idle peasants more picturesque than working ones, and so on. Price’s theories inspired, among other things, Thomas Rowlandson’s satirical illustrations to ...


(b Paris, Oct 28, 1755; d Paris, Dec 28, 1849).

French writer and theorist. Born into a wealthy Jansenist family, he abandoned his law studies in order to train as a sculptor, entering the studio of Guillaume Coustou (ii), where he was taught by Coustou’s pupil Pierre Julien. Between 1776 and 1780, and again in 1783–4, Quatremère lived in Rome (where he met Antonio Canova); in 1779 he visited Naples in the company of Jacques-Louis David. In Italy he was struck by the survival of the Baroque style, despite the continuing archaeological discoveries of Classical remains. He became interested in the early Classical style of Greek sculpture and contemporaneous architecture, upon which much of his later aesthetic theory was to be grounded. Convinced that a revival of the arts depended on a wider knowledge of Classical civilization, he used archaeological research throughout his life to educate and so promote a return to the antique style.

During the 1780s Quatremère concerned himself mostly with architecture, winning a competition organized by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres for his essay on the origins and nature of Egyptian architecture (...


David Mannings

(b Plympton, Devon, July 16, 1723; d London, Feb 23, 1792).

English painter, collector and writer. The foremost portrait painter in England in the 18th century, he transformed early Georgian portraiture by greatly enlarging its range. His poses, frequently based on the Old Masters or antique sculpture, were intended to invoke classical values and to enhance the dignity of his sitters. His rich colour, strong lighting and free handling of paint greatly influenced the generation of Thomas Lawrence and Henry Raeburn. His history and fancy pictures explored dramatic and emotional themes that became increasingly popular with both artists and collectors in the Romantic period. As first president of the Royal Academy in London, he did more than anyone to raise the status of art and artists in Britain. His Discourses on Art, delivered to the students and members of the Academy between 1769 and 1790, are the most eloquent and widely respected body of art criticism by any English writer.

Although Reynolds’s father, a fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, and master of Plympton Grammar School, had intended that his son train as an apothecary, Joshua chose instead to seek fame as a painter. In ...


Maurice Cranston

(b Geneva, June 28, 1712; d Ermenonville, July 2, 1778).

French writer of Swiss birth. He was the son of a watchmaker in Calvinist Geneva and served unhappy apprenticeships, first with a notary and then with an engraver. An autodidact, he achieved fame in Paris in the 1750s as one of the writers associated with Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie (1751–75), but was a critic of most of the principles of rationalism and scientific progress that that work proclaimed. He developed his theory of art most systematically in the course of a controversy with the composer Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764) about music, but some of his ideas were made more widely known in his novel Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse (1761) and his treatise on education Emile (1762). Rameau was a Neo-classicist in the sense that he developed a modernized version of the classical doctrine that the purpose of art is to discover and disclose the hidden forms that lie behind the chaos and flux of human experience. Art, he claimed, was a science, and as such must rest on the same mathematical principles that govern the natural universe, and must obey analogous rules of rational order. Rousseau agreed that art was a science, which must seek to be true to nature. However, he saw nature not as part of the Newtonian universe of predictable regularities observed through telescopes and microscopes, but as the world everyone could see with his own eyes, something that surrounded man and of which man was himself a part....


(b Stendal, Dec 9, 1717; d Trieste, June 8, 1768).

German art historian. His writings on the sculpture of ancient Greece and Rome redefined the history of art and provided a theoretical apologia for Neo-classicism. Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums (1764) was a standard reference on the art of the ancient world until well into the 19th century. Winckelmann revolutionized archaeological studies by providing a framework for stylistic classification of antiquities by period of origin, whereas previous antiquarian scholars had concerned themselves almost exclusively with questions of subject-matter. His analysis of the aesthetics of Greek art and his account of the conditions that encouraged its flowering, which highlighted the importance of climate and the political freedom of the ancient Greek city states, had a major impact in the art world of his time. His scholarly celebrations of masterpieces of ancient sculpture were particularly popular and were widely quoted in travel books and artistic treatises.

The son of a cobbler, Winckelmann studied Greek and Latin, as well as theology, mathematics and medicine, at the universities of Halle and Jena. After five years as a Classics teacher in Seehausen, he was employed in ...