Painting, architecture, interior design, evolving from the Baroque to an elegant Rococó style, and having at the end of the century another transformation to the Romantic style. That is the 18th century Art. From the amazing creations of the artists of the image...

 ...until the music played into the luxurious ballrooms of the Imperial courts:

Schönbrunn Palace ballroom, Vienna; summer residence of the Archdukes of Austria.


Mozart, Bach, Haendel, Haydn, Rameau, Vivaldi, Albinoni, Scarlatti,were the big masters of the symphony, of the concert, and of the opera, at that time. Albinoni, Vivaldi, Bach, Haendel, Rameau and Domenico Scarlatti were contemporaries and had influence on the music of Haydn and Mozart, who were posteriors. All of them were supported by wealthy patrons,like princes, dukes and aristocrats. it was the resource, at that time, for a talented musician, to achieve position and acknowledgment. Laws of copyrights didn't exist, nor protection to the intellectual rights of an author, thus, it was custodied by their patrons. The music of this century derived from the Barroque of the 17th century, and Vivaldi was the first one doing important modifications to the concert, giving predominance to the orchestra, which, until that time, was only a musical accompaniment; he transformed the Concerto Solli, played by one only instrument performing the main melody, giving participation to the entire orchestra. Bach continued with his example, developing a wonderful technique of counterpoint, and and a masterful handling of the organization of harmony. Haydn, who was a personal friend of Mozart, capitalized all these progresses and he transmitted them to newer generations. Mozart developed a magistral work, an endless source of creativity, and, together with Haydn they had as a disciple the young Beethoven, who later switched his work toward the Romanticism, the new borning style at the end of the 18th century and the main one at the 19th century.




Literature at that time was so strong and influent on the social and politic transformations of the world, that it's possible that it was the origin of the horror to the books of all of those governments which tried years later to impose despotic regimes. The whole transformation of the world, which ended in the American and French Revolutions, and the posterior process of democratization of all the countries, started with a revolution of ideas at the beginning of this century. And its expansion was, precisely, transported by the literature. The literature of the Western World showed at that time a devastating power, based in two main facts: first, it was the power and deepness of the ideas themselves, and the other one, was the extensive spread and dissemination of all the printed material from the first decades of the century. The multiplication of printed books, the opening of new editorials, the circulation of newspapers, journals and pamphlets, the popularity of coffeeshops where all the social classes were blended, the literary salons; all of this supported by an every day faster and more efficient process of paper making with cotton and line fibers, contributed to expand the literature over the society in general, arriving, for the first time in History, to those who didn't belong to noble classes. Literature entered to every homeland by the main gate, allowing that all the possible topics were analyzed, critiziced, racionalized and investigated under the light of the conscience of a powerful social class, until that moment with no public voice: the burgeoisie, the working class growing unceasingly, sustained by the power of their labour and projects. it allowed that, in the European continent, a complete sinthony with the situation in England was achieved. In England relations between social classes were more flexibles, they had more religious tolerance and they had a principle of democracy in the parlamentary monarchy. The middle and upper class of the burgeoisie, benefited by the trips to America and the new steam machines industry, and metallurgy, started then to structure their thought in their own concept of how the society should be, and at its turn, also started to over mine the basement of the governant authority, based in traditional values which at that time, were loosing their meanings. This class of new-rich hard workers, which already had conquered an important position in several countries, now was launched to the adventure of the conquest of the political and social power, and the continuous distribution of books, spreading the sowing of new ideas everywhere, was the best resource to unify the critic and the transformation of all the continent. It was a real social net of thoughts, transmitted by the same printed material read by everybody at the same time.

The literature of that time was, therefore, more critic and didactic than simply narrative. This literature was the one who led to the construction of a new world.

FROM CLASSICAL TO ROMANTIC: It's important to remark that at the beginning of the century the literature was read in salons, before an audience, and it had a social and not individual feature; in general, its contents were addressed to the noblesse or the high burgeoisie. At the last years of the century, literature became more intimate: it speaks about the personal problems of individuals, their feelings and emotions,which is a consequence of the fact that books start to be read in privacy, into the houses, and not only in public, because of the increase of the editorial production and the less expensive prices. Then, with this literature referred to the secret inner life of men, their hidden dreams, desires and hopes, -all that belonging essentially to men as individuals and not as members of a society-, the word Romanticism is started to be used. This literary current will predominate on the entire next century.

So far, these are the coincident points of literature in all European and American countries. However, there were important differences because of the particular situation of every country.

In England, for instance, which from the beginning of the century was already the United Kingdom of England and Scotland, several of the most brilliant writers of this century were Irishmen, as Jonathan Swift or Oliver Goldsmith. After the death of the Queen Anne, the last of the Stuarts, in 1714, and followed by the Hanover dynasty, (George I, George II and George III), Great Britain lived a time of complacency and tranquility, after the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688, which had left very well established a parliamentary monarchichal system. This environment favored the development of sciences and the Industrial Revolution, as well as a more open society with more religious tolerance. Voltaire, who was an admirer of Britain, used to say that "it has fifty religions and one only sauce". Literary movements were influenced by the German philosopher Leibnitz, who suggested that they were living in "the best of all possible worlds". The French writers, like Voltaire, did not accept that smug position, and together with Rousseau they played a significant role influencing the English writers.

The first important novel of the century was Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719, by Daniel Defoe (1661-1731), who had the ability to persuade readers that fiction is literal truth. The heroic survival of the shipwrecked sailor was, no doubt, a Defoe's reference to the triumph of a meritory working class, arising, brilliantly, for their own efforts. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) who published The Gulliver's Travels, tried to satirize, through this novel from the King to all mankind, although today this book is looked on by most people as a book for young readers. Alexander Pope (1688-1744) was the poet of his day, a close friend of Swift, who wrote Eloisa to Abelard and The Rape of the Lock, and he did the first English translation, from the Greek, of Homer's Iliad and Oddyssey. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), was the "literary dictator" of his time; he founded a famous Literary Club, whose members were the actor David Garrick, the painter Joshua Reynolds, the economist Adam Smith, and the poet and novelist Oliver Goldsmith. He gained recognition from his Dictionary, in which he tried to rule the spelling and pronuntiation of English words, and he wrote The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, and essays like The Rambler and The Idler , in which he critized the political and social establishment. Henry Fielding (1707-1754) wrote many novels, being the most famous Tom Jones and Amelia. Oliver Goldsmith ( 1730-1774) was the only writer who cultivated three styles: poetry, The Desserted Village, comedy, She Stoops to Conquer, and novel, The Vicar of Wakefield.

France. Where more strict was the oppression of the ruling authority, was where most were imposed the ideas of the Enlightenment, that, as an European movement, was in France where it was most notably expressed. France experienced a century of absolute monarchy and religious intolerance. The ideas of freedom and equality of the Enlightenment would not have a peaceful development within that environment, which eventually lead to the outbreak of the Revolution of 1789. French literature of the time, focused more on the prose and poetry, had a strong philosophical -and especially sociological- content; was harshly critical about the system and tried to put France in line with the liberalism of the northern countries, like England and Netherland. But while in England the authors mainly criticize the political system, France, instead, claims by a complete change of the system itself, with an openness to parliamentarism and to religious tolerance, by a redistribution of wealth and by a new property law. In this approach are the works of Charles Louis de Secondat, Sieur de la Brède et Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755), who, in his The Spirit of the Laws, published in 1748 proposes the theory of separation of political powers and helps to the inspiration of the constitutions of the new American and French republics; François Marie Arouet, dit Voltaire (1694-1778), addresses strong criticism toward the religious intolerance, fanatism, superstition, and slavery, in works like Candide (1759), where he attacks the passivity inspired by Leibniz's philosophy of optimism; Essay on the Manners of Nations (1756), Sept Discours en Vers sur l'Homme (1738), Zaire (1732) and Zadig (1748). Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), a permanent opponent of Voltaire, but focused in the same Enlightenment philosophy, said that the man is born free and innocent, but the social system corrupts him; he proposes a new contract with the society, under a republican system, in his The Social Contract (1762), and a new philosophy of education in Emile (1762) and Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men (1755).

At that time, Literary Salons become fashionable in Paris. Under the guidance of Mme. Geoffrin or Mme. de Tencin, philosophers, writers and cultivated people assisted to these gatherings to exchange their ideas about the philosophy of the Enlightenment. From this movement, growing like an uncontrollable avalanche on the system, arises the most paradigmatic work of the century: The Encyclopédie .

By initiative of André Le Breton, a book's editor, was made the French translation of the Cyclopaedia, by Ephraim Chambers, published in London in 1728. The work is entrusted to two old friends, Denis Diderot (1713-1784) and Jean Le Rond D'Alembert (1717-1783). From a simple translation they develop a monumental work, which far exceeds the previous one translated, and the new work is called l’Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, published between 1751 and 1772, with 35 volumes, 71.818 articles and 11 volumes of illustrations. In that amazing work were involved 139 men of letters and science; physicists, physicians, chemists, botanists, zoologists, economists, politicians, theologians, musicians, mathematicians, painters, sculptors, experts in mechanical arts, historians, etc. All of them will be called the Encyclopedists. It is developed from this work a true encyclopedic spirit of the culture, which will feature a clear bourgeois profile, fundamentally critical of all traditions, a spirit which loves the science and defends the reason, and a morality based on the philosophical spirit of the laws of nature, with a huge rejection to absolutism, to inequalities and all forms of intolerance.

Diderot also wrote an essay, Pensées sur l'interprétation de la nature (1751) and a novel, Jacques le Fatalist (1771). Dalembert, in turn, who was an extraordinary character of the Enlightenment, developed an important work as a mathematician, and he published in 1743 his famous Traité de dynamique, and he was the author of the Encyclopédie's Preliminary Discourse.

In comedy, was notable Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732-1799) who was the author of Le Barbier de Séville and Le Mariage de Figaro, which were later famous operas.

The Marquis of Sade, or Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, (1740-1814) is a case quite apart from all the literary genre of the Enlightenment, but impossible to forget into the atmosphere of the 18th century. Sade, perhaps a precursor of the existentialism of the twentieth century, breaks all the possible schemes of the time, with audacious and unlimited freedom of expression. His works are of extreme freedom, unrestrained by morality, religion or law; some of them with a notorious sexual and pornographic content, and morally provocatives. His most famous work, Justine, was entirely censored at that time, but it was a success of clandestine circulation, even in later centuries. The 120 Days of Sodom or The School of Libertines and his novel Philosophy in the Bedroom, or his short tale Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man are others of his known works. If his writing is amazing, it was still his life, and probably more.

The German literature of the 18th century, was developed within what at that time was the Holy Roman Empire. It is a clear reflection of an era in which the Kingdom of Prussia became the leading exponent of enlightened despotism. The constant rivalry in the Empire was always between Austria, ruled by the Habsburgs and Prussia, ruled by the Hohenzollern. From the reign of Frederick II the Great of Prussia, in 1740, this nation reaches a predominant role on the empire and on Europe. Frederick II was an admirer of the ideas of the Enlightenment, and a friend of Voltaire, who was hosted several times at his court. In synthony with the French Enlightenment, Frederick -who set the French language as the official language of his court-, ensured the independence of the judicial power, codified the laws and protected the arts, the sciences, and the education; heinstalled the first obligatory elementary school and simultaneously, helped to the develop of the Prussian industry. All of this caused an increase in the population -from 3 millions to 6 millions at the end of his reign- and the general feeling of being proud of their nation; and this feeling was favoured by Frederick's brilliant military conquests. But the slogan of the Enlightened Despotism was "all for the people, but without the people"; that is, the monarchy retained its independence of decisions without consulting anyone, though it was for the benefit of its people, according to the ideas of freedom and equality of Enlightenment.

The most important Prussian philosopher who developed a transcendent thought about the Enlightenment was Immanuel Kant, (1724-1804), a man who spilled his thought throughout the world and along the centuries without ever leaving his home or his village. He is the creator of the Idealism, a movement opossed to materialism. Idealism remarks the knowledge of the reality as a phenomenon of the conscience and of the subjective experience, saying that it's impossible to achieve the essence of things, but only what we perceive of them. His main work -and one of the most important works in philosophy, in general- was the Critique of Pure Reason, published between 1781 and 1787. It tries to combine the theoretical rationalism of the 18th century with the empiricism of ancient times. He was famous for his work, published in 1784, called Was ist Aufklärung? (What is Enlightenment? ).

The 18th century was the beginning of the most brilliant time of German literature. Near 1770 starts a literary period called Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress), which was one of the typical movements of the Enlightenment, questioning traditional values ??and expressing the discomforty of individuals within the society they lived; its most notable representative was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), whose greatest dramatic work was Faust, (1793); he also wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther, and a treaty of Metamorphosis of Plants. He was a predecessor of Romanticism. Another notable author of the century was Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805), a poet and dramaturgist who, together with Goethe, founded a movement called the Weimar Classicism. He was called the Poet of Freedom, and, amongst his most important works are Don Carlos, Prince Royal of Spain, William Tell and Turandot. Schiller was a strong supporter of the ideas of Enlightenement; he attacked the absolute oppression of the monarchy clamoring for the rise to power of the new class, the bourgeoisie.

In Spain, the political and social status were marked by the reign of Charles III of Bourbon, since the half of the century. He was Duke of Parma and King of Naples and Sicily (from 1734 to 1759) and King of Spain (1759-1788). He was a representative of the enlightened despotism, along with Frederick II of Prussia. He made important reforms in education and social assistance, providing social benefits to the gypsies, and promoting the obligatory elementary education. In 1767 he expulsed the Jesuits from all the territory of the Spanish crown. Early in 1713, the influence of the Enlightenment was notorious in Spain with the foundation of the Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy), under the slogan "limpia, fija y da esplendor" (it cleans, sets and casts splendour). The ideas of French philosophers were severely controlled by the authorities and the Inquisition, but nevertheless they were able to penetrate the Peninsula anyway. Fray Benito Jerónimo de Feijóo, (1676-1764) was a Benedictine Friar who in his 8 volumes of Teatro Crítico Universal y sus Cartas eruditas y curiosas, introduced the thought of the Enlightenment rationalism into the Church. Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (1744-1811) wrote important essays about political trials, agriculture, economy and philosophy, based in the ideas of the Enlightenment. It was famous his Informe sobre la ley agraria in 1784, and his tragic comedy El Pelayo and his comedy El delincuente honrado. José de Cadalso y Vázquez de Andrade (1741-1782) left important works in prose, like Cartas Marruecas and Eruditos a la violeta. Nicolás Fernández de Moratín (1737-1780) was the author of poems like Fiesta de Toros en Madrid and theatre: La Petimetra, Lucrecia and Guzmán el Bueno. In what was the Salamantine School, Juan Meléndez Valdéz (1754-1817) wrote Batilo, Las enamoradas anacreónticas and Los Besos de Amor. Amongst the Grupo Madrileño, were remarkable Félix María Samaniego (1745-1801) with his Fábulas en verso castellano para el uso del Real Seminario Bascongado, and Tomás de Iriarte (1750-1791), with his Fábulas literarias (1782).

In Italy, where from the 13th century the Tuscan dialect had already shown a tendency to be used as the language of literature, (becoming later the same Italian language), the literature suffers a declination due to the seventeenth-century Spanish rule, but it has a reborning in the 18th century. During the century, Sardinia is assigned to Piemonte, ruled by the Duke of Savoy, who obtained his independence from France in 1706, and Victor Amadeus is crowned as King of Sardinia; Sicily and Mantua and all the South of Italy go under the rule of Naples, which was, at its turn, under the Spanish rule, and the Duchy of Milan is under the rule of the Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria.The Grand Duchy of Tuscany, with Florence, traditionally ruled by the Medici, is submitted in 1737 under the rule of Francis Stephen, Duke of Lorraine, the husband of Maria Theresa of Austria. The Most Serene Republic of Venice, independent, was ruled by a Dux under the control of an organized parliament. So, in this way, most of Italy was under the control of the enlightened despotism of the time (Maria Theresa of Austria, Frederick the Great of Prusia, king of Naples and Sicily, and the Duke of Lorraine), with exception of Venice, and Savoy (Piemonte) which were much more traditional and conservative. However, it is in Venice where there is the biggest cultural change in literature and theater. Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793) was the father of the Italian Comedy. He made deep reforms in the Commedia dell'Arte, eliminating the use of masks on the actors and making them act natural, and with a script. It transforms the theatre into a true literary genre. Goldoni abandoned the prototype character expression typical of the Commedia dell'Arte to obtain particular characters, with real situations of everyday life, and focuses especially on the representation of bourgeois society. Among his works, written in Venetian dialect, are The Servant of Two Masters, The Mistress of the Inn, The Shrewd Widow and The Chioggia Scuffles. Ludovico Antonio Muratori (1672-1750) was a Jesuit who wrote La Filosofía Morale, where he defended the values of the Enlightenment with regard to education and reformism. Giuseppe Parini was born in 1729, he died in 1799 and he lived all his life in Milan; was a relevant figure in 18th century with his satirical The Day, which contains a great historical and sociological value.



The best testimony of the customs, modes of dress, gestures and expressions of the people of the time are preserved in art: paintings, draws, gravures. Although in the eighteenth century there is a classification of styles such as baroque, rococo or neoclassical, much more interesting than to observe the styles is to receive the personal message that each artist put in each of them; still framed, or maybe not, in styles, each one of them has a particular mark of their talent and their individual needs for expression.

After the death of Louis XIV in France, the court moved from Versailles to Paris and the royal palace was redecorated with the emerging style of the time. Modifying the classical and symmetrical forms of the baroque -circle-line-, in the new style of the early century are predominant delicate "S" curved shapes, and a strong asymmetry, emphasizing the contrast. It is the style "Rococo," which will influence the art of almost the whole century until the last decades, the moment in which everything is turned towards the neo-classical line, with a greater austerity and simplicity in the forms. The Rococo is imposed by its brilliance and dymnamism; forms are not static: they play and are integrated in a harmonious and elegant movement. In painting, architecture, sculpture and interior design the rococo will spread from France to the rest of Europe, with variations, according to the characteristics of each country. It is the time when France dictate the fashion, the manners of the European courts are French-style and even the language of the courts of other countries is French. In painting, the rococo displaces the baroque; with its pastel colors, soft colors and with those lines edging the figures that are not as sharp as in the Baroque. The painting evolves until showing the inner feelings of the characters; shows more mundane expressions, their psychological states; is more a painting of intellect and reason; it tends to a greater range of expression of the human being. The Rococo interior design will spread rapidly throughout Europe, where it will be called "Louis XV" Style. In England there are customized variants such as Chippendale and Sheraton. In countries in northern France, the style is more austere and less overloaded. In architecture rococo is imposed on all the constructions at the time, being one of the best examples the Sans-Souci Palace de Frederick the Great of Prussia in Postdam. In England, however, is mmost common the Palladian style, with a classical Greek or Roman architecture, with sobriety and symmetrical shapes .






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