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Article

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

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 ...

Article

(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 ...

Article

Howard Caygill

(b Königsberg, Feb 2, 1700; d Leipzig, Dec 12, 1766).

German philosopher. He was the first of the philosophers influenced by Johann Christian von Wolff (1679–1754) to establish a place in Wolff’s system for the fine arts. He attended the universities of Königsberg and Leipzig in the early 1720s, where he wrote theses on Wolffian topics. In 1730 he published his enormously influential Versuch einer critischen Dichtkunst. This essay brings together traditional poetics, the theory of taste and Wolffian philosophy. Although he employed the traditional framework of commenting on Horace’s Ars poetica, Gottsched focused on the relation between taste and perfection: perfection is rational, the unity of a manifold, but may be ‘obscurely perceived’ by taste. His relaxation of the stern rationalism of Wolff was insufficient for the Zurich critics Bodmer and Breitinger, generating a controversy that rumbled on into the 1750s. It was also unacceptable to the later generation of romantic aestheticians, notably Goethe, who found his compromise between the rules of art and the demands of taste still too restrictive....

Article

Howard Caygill

(b Königsberg [Kaliningrad], Aug 27, 1730; d Münster, June 21, 1788).

German philosopher and theologian. After travels that included sojourns in London and Riga, he based himself in his native city from 1759, occupying minor posts and acting as a Christian gadfly to the German Enlightenment. He separated himself from Kant with the esoteric Sokratische Denkwürdigkeiten (1759), which spurned the philosophy and recondite style of the Enlightenment. His differences were further developed in the first, and perhaps most influential riposte to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, the Metacritik über den Purismum der Vernunft (1784), which questions how it is possible to criticize reason without assuming its validity, and claims that reason was already abstracted from language.

A similar argument informs Hamann’s main work in the philosophy of art, the ‘Aesthetica in Nuce’, one of the Kreuzzuge des Philologen (1762). This essay, subtitled ‘a rhapsody in cabbalistic prose’, attacks the abstract theories of imitation proposed by German ...

Article

Patrick Gardiner

(b Stuttgart, Aug 27, 1770; d Berlin, Nov 14, 1831).

German philosopher. From 1788 until 1793 he was a student at the university at Tübingen where he read philosophy and theology. He held academic posts at Jena between 1801 and 1806, but his career there was cut short by the Napoleonic occupation of the city. After a period as a newspaper editor and then as rector of a gymnasium at Nuremberg, he returned to university teaching, holding a chair of philosophy at Heidelberg in 1816 and one at Berlin two years later. The works he published during his lifetime fell mainly within the spheres of metaphysics, epistemology and political theory; while at Berlin, however, he also gave extensive lecture courses on other branches of philosophy, including aesthetics. The lectures on aesthetics, which Hegel delivered on various occasions during the 1820s, were edited and published posthumously in 1835.

In developing his philosophical system, which was formidable in its scope and daunting in its complexity, Hegel assigned to aesthetics a position of great importance. He considered art, along with religion and philosophy, one of the fundamental modes of consciousness whereby human beings acquired a profound comprehension both of themselves and of the world they inhabited. Thus he felt obliged to undertake a careful investigation of its nature and significance. But the close attention he paid to it also had a more personal source: Hegel was deeply responsive to, and knowledgeable about, certain forms of artistic achievement....

Article

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....

Article

(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....

Article

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 ...

Article

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...

Article

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 ...

Article

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....

Article

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 Füssli family §(3)). 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 ...