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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 ...

Article

Baroque  

Gauvin Bailey and Jillian Lanthier

Term used to describe one of the first genuinely global styles of art and architecture in the Western canon, extending from its birthplace in Bologna and Rome to places as far-flung as France, Sweden, Russia, Latin America, colonial Asia (Goa, Macao), and Africa (Mozambique, Angola), even manifesting itself in hybrid forms in non-European cultures such as Qing China (the Yuanming yuan pleasure gardens of the Qianlong Emperor) or Ottoman Turkey (in a style often called Türk Barok). The Baroque also embraced a very wide variety of art forms, from the more traditional art historical media of painting, sculpture, and architecture to public spectacles, fireworks, gardens, and objects of everyday use, often combining multiple media into a single object or space in a way that blurred traditional disciplinary boundaries. More so than the Renaissance and Mannerist stylistic movements which preceded it, Baroque was a style of the people as well as one of élites, and scholars are only recently beginning to explore the rich material culture of the Baroque, from chapbooks (Italy) and votive paintings (central Europe and Latin America) to farm furniture (Sweden) and portable oratories (Brazil). Although its precise chronological boundaries will probably always be a matter of dispute, the Baroque era roughly covers the period from the 1580s to the early 18th century when, in places such as France and Portugal, the ...

Article

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....

Article

Edward Chaney

(b Dysart Castle, Kilkenny, March 12, 1685; d Oxford, Jan 14, 1753).

Irish bishop, philosopher, writer, collector, and traveller of English descent. He established the basis of his reputation as a philosopher while still a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, with An Essay towards a New Theory of Vision (Dublin, 1709) and the Principles of Human Knowledge (Dublin, 1710), in which he introduced his theory that material reality exists only in as much as it can be perceived by the mind, and that God is the omnipresent perceiver and the originator of our sense experiences. Early in 1713 he visited England. There he met the writers Joseph Addison, Jonathan Swift, and Alexander Pope; with their help and encouragement, by October he had arranged to travel as chaplain to Charles Mordaunt, 3rd Earl of Peterborough on his embassy to Sicily; but Berkeley only reached Tuscany on this occasion. He returned to Italy in 1716, however, as tutor to St George Ashe, son of the Bishop of Clogher. Over the next four years Berkeley conducted his frail pupil on what was an exceptionally extensive (and intensive) Italian tour for the time. Though underestimated in the history of aesthetics, Berkeley’s value to art history lies largely in what he recorded in his travel journals and letters home from Italy. Cumulatively these represent a fascinating landmark in the history of taste and indicate how successfully a truly independent mind can resist the pressure to conform to contemporary opinion. In early ...

Article

(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 ...

Article

David Rodgers and Lin Barton

(b Dublin, Jan 12, 1729; d Beaconsfield, Bucks, July 9, 1797).

British statesman, philosopher and writer. Following studies at Trinity College, Dublin, he enrolled in 1750 at the Middle Temple, London, but soon abandoned the study of law and devoted the rest of his life to politics and writing. In 1765 he became MP for Wendover, and his eloquence and ability enabled him to rise rapidly in the Whig party; his political writings were widely admired. In 1756 he published, anonymously, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful. The major influence on writers on taste during the 18th century was Longinus’ Greek treatise On the Sublime (1st century ad). Longinus defined the Sublime as differing from beauty, and invoking more intense emotions by vastness, a quality that inspires awe. The term came into general use in the 18th century and was used particularly in relation to landscape painting, the works of Salvator Rosa being considered the foremost examples among the Old Masters. The Sublime was discussed by, among others, Jonathan Richardson sr, the Abbé Jean-Baptiste Dubos and John Baillie. Burke was the first to examine and substantiate the link between terror and the Sublime; he also drew a distinction between beauty and the Sublime (for a fuller discussion ...

Article

(b London, Feb 26, 1670/1; d Naples, Feb 15, 1713).

English philosopher, aesthetician and patron. Shaftesbury has been described as the first great aesthetician that England produced, and his writings were both original and influential. His education was entrusted to the philosopher John Locke, who had him instructed in Greek and Latin from an early age. So quickly and thoroughly did he learn these languages that by the age of 11 he could read and discuss the Classics, an interest he was always to maintain. During his three years of travel in Holland, France and Italy he learnt French and developed his taste for modern and Classical sculpture, architecture, painting and music. He served in Parliament for three years and succeeded to the earldom and a seat in the House of Lords in 1699. Shaftesbury’s interest in art and aesthetics developed considerably in his final years, after he moved to Naples for his health in 1711.

Shaftesbury’s dialogues, letters and miscellany do not form a systematic doctrine, for he despised philosophical systems; rather they stand as elegantly composed and passionate topical essays. His posthumously published treatises on art, ...

Article

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 ...

Article

(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....

Article

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 ...