Mary Wollstonecraft, author of Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)
The enlightenment was a movement of people that wanted to separate the past from the newer scientific principles, such as natural laws and improvement to human life into society. It applied to social behaviors and to make practical applications to science. One of the authors of this movement was Locke, his book Tabula Rasa was on how you were born with a clean slate and without sin. His belief in “progress,” the upward mobility and success, was a contribution toward the individual vs. absolutist government. The visual art was a move towards Neoclassical in art and literature. This was to get rid of medieval exaggeration and put an emphasis on clean lines and purity. The Romanesque revival also happened, this was an emphasis on light and height, stained glass and cathedral revival. With new art submerging new literature emerged as well. Reading clubs and weekly gatherings or salons became popular. These salons and gatherings were used to discuss literature and political developments. The enlightenment age was a time to define relationships of humanity and nature/universe such as the divine. The salons were a great was for people to pass ideas and views about certain subjects, it was a way for people to express their beliefs in a logical manner. Although this was a time for new political views and beliefs to pass the subject of women was still a subject up for debate. There were many books written on the ideas of how women might have affected the man’s role as well as “natural balance.” This gave an opportunity for writers to express their viewpoints in literature, such as Mary Wollstonecraft who wrote Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), this book focused on how to obtain a character as a human rather than their sex, as well as how virtue is greater than elegance. The enlightenment period was a time for a vast scope of different beliefs in their social, economic and political views. This was an immense change from the previous beliefs that were based mostly on religious views. Although women were expected to be better mothers and wives with the increase in education, they succeeded in both public and private life. Women exceeded in the number of collegiate students as almost half of the institution.
The Elephants and Roses website was one that focused on the arts during the Enlightenment period and the role that the French had on it. This was a great way to see how the arts during this era changed from the medial exaggeration to the cleaner lines. The arts showed the ideas of the new world featuring the gain in scientific knowledge focusing on plants and animals. This was shown in a fossilized mastodon tooth sent by Thomas Jefferson to the black swan that was stuffed by empress Josephine. These were used to display the exotic animals and plants to show the glory of France. The improvement in agriculture productivity and diversity helped with economic prosperity. The painting of different trees showed this by leading to the discovery of oak, this helped economically by becoming quite useful in the future for the shipbuilding industry. Exotic plants like sugar cane, dahlias and lilies were all transported to France, the Empress Josephine had a painter recreate these exotic blossoms. All of these discoveries were used to help France become a very diverse and cultured place for the submergence of the enlightenment era to continue to thrive.
The MIT exhibit showcased the technology of the enlightenment and how Diderot’s work impacted this period. The frontispiece is a composition of females the represent Reason and Philosophy and unveil the figure of Truth. This is a representation of how this period was working to improve the image of women. The “Tree of Knowledge” appeared in the first volume of this and contradicted Locke’s views of having been born with a blank slate. The “Tree of Knowledge” was broken up into three branches that were the branches of the human psychology. The Encyclopedists also included sources and images from paper making and mining, these both showcased the improvements in the mechanical arts with manual skills to produce these products. It also showcased the French Academy of Sciences publication, this was focused on the art and trade of it. The concept of mechanical arts was new to this period, it focused on the manual labor of the art rather than the mental ability.
The Ottoman Empire was the strongest Muslim power in the region and resulted in the end of the Byzantine Empire. The government ensure the imperial writ of the Ottoman lands, their art reflected this mentality. Their art had inspiration from the centralized system as well as the cultures that became incorporated. They decorated palaces, mosques and even created products for trade. The centralized system showed in the art by the uniform style shown in both the architecture and craftsmanship of the palace. This organization was also shown in every dish that had a different chef, they followed in a traditional order and were very ordered. The trading of the Islamic art made it very popular and appreciated in the West, this was the start of the world economic system. The trading of the art as an export was to fulfill the worldwide need in the craft industry. This link was one that really showcased the impeccable artwork of the Islamic world. The art was one thing that expressed their culture, the clean lines and organization was one reason that the artwork was in such a need during this time. This reflects the enlightenment period as the artwork began to be expressed in ways other than religious purposes.