I wanted to concentrate on two subject matters the growing economic power of the Middle Class which I feel has a huge impact on art and scientific discovery in the 1700’s.
The Middle Class was growing! Their size and wealth however only affected the economic growth of nations and not politically. The Middle Class wanted a bilateral influence – meaning they wanted a say in politics which in turn would affect the cultural and economic power evenly. They wanted reforms that the Monarchy’s are reluctant to accept. The discontent of the middle class leads to revolutions, in particular the French Revolution. The Revolutions would change Europe as a whole. This would allow the Age of Reason to flourish in the art and science communities.
The portrait above is by the official portraitist of Marie Antoinette, Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, 1788 Marie and Her Children. This would be the last portrait of Marie by LeBrun. Despite the reputation the French had bestowed upon Antoinette, Le Brun showed that Antoinette was devoted to her children and that she did not just lead a lavish style that she could be simple. The main reason why appreciated this portrait, simple elegance.
However, the people had enough. The King and Queen would meet their faith at the guillotine. Eventually this decline in the monarchy led to one of the greats, Napoleon Bonaparte. He is responsible for establishing the Code Napolean. The codes are still a form of civil law today that allows liberties to its people.
Another huge influence for me is the advocacy of the science community. Sir Isaac Newton established the Laws of Motion. These theories are still used and taught today. Isaac had several achievements one that would be the beginning to cinema photography. He discovered the telescope by developing optics and the refraction of light. The portrait below depicts how Newton captures the refraction of light.
One of the biggest controversies that I saw in the arts was the effort to control the theaters. The Age of Reason allowed for the people to speak their minds through art. The Theater was infamous for showing what the monarch did not like the truth. Producers got away from rules and regulations by not charging for their work, however made up the cost by charging for popcorn! An excellent example of the satirist comedy was the Provoked Wife by John Vanbrugh an English architect and play writer. His works were deemed problem plays by the Restoration society. This plays were most likely always very outspoken presenting arguments in defenses to women’s rights. However, notice in the picture that the woman is being played by a man. Ironic! Since this was the age that women really began to show on the stages more. One of the key attributes that caught my eye!
I realize that our history books do not even begin to touch the basics of the history of ages. There are so many influences. With the rise of the Encyclopedia, spreading the wealth of knowledge not only to the upper and middle classes but to the lower class, this is one major contribution to the growth of middle class. By expanding the knowledge base of its people, I believe allowed for Europe to prosper.