The history of art has for a long time been criticized for its subjective nature since the definition of beauty varies from one person to another. The art of learning to assess the relevance of art pieces form an artistic form usually develops an individual's understanding of the arts aesthetic value.

The enlightenment age refers to the 18th century according to the European philosophy and it has been thought to be a part of a larger time that sometimes includes the Age of Reason. The term specifically refers to a movement of historical intellectuals that advocated for rationality as a means of establishing authoritarian ethical, aesthetical and knowledge systems. The leaders in this intellectual movements believed they were courageous and elite and regarded their   purpose as one that leads to global progress out of traditions that are full of doubts, superstition and tyranny.


From a political history angle, the movements provided the American and French the framework during the earlier years' revolutions leading to the rise of capitalism and socialism. The concept has been matched by high classical and baroque eras of music and the neo-classic art periods receiving contemporary applications in the unity of sciences revolutions that include logical positivism. Europe as well as North America saw the onset of religious wars in early 16th and 17th centuries and the European situation only stabilized after the signing of the Peace of Westphalia and the halt of the English Civil War. There were upheavals that toppled the notions of faith and mysticism in people revelation as the core source of wisdom and knowledge. The Age of Reason sought the creation of philosophies that were axiomatic and absolutism as the fundamentals of stability and knowledge. In this case, epistemology deduced from René Descartes and Michael de Montaigne was based on inquiries in knowledge's nature and extreme skepticism. The goal behind this age was to build axioms that were self-reliant that saw their heightened accomplishment in Baruch Spinoza's ethics.   

Neoclassicism was a major definer of enlightenment with regard to art both in North America and in Europe. The concept was idealized through the harmonization of the great Greek art forms where neoclassicists were working on a grand scale. The balance and order reigned as preferences turned to antiquity scenes.Jacques Louis David's exemplified the heroic sensibilities of Greco-Roman encounters through a balanced composition. Through neoclassicism, people were able to use myth and patriotism scenes in challenging the social and political order at the time. Neoclassicism literature was also used as a powerful voice in poetic literature where it devoted neoclassicists to both deism and reason.

According to Immanuel Kant (1784),enlightenments is the man's abandonment of his self acquired immaturity that can be defined as the incapacity to utilize ones intelligence without directions from others. From such a context, enlightenment is viewed to have started in belief, comprehensive and orderly universe that is preceded by stages like those found in the concept of Deism. This begins through the assertion that law governs heavenly and human affairs.

In France, the Encyclopedistes coined the enlightenment thinking where the premise of the enterprise was primarily found on the basis that  knowledge had some moral architecture within itself. The thinking was then suffused with two varying strains where one was characterized by faith and intense spirituality with regard to church and religion. In opposing such moves, there was the growth in anti-clericalism that was seen to mock the perceived relationships between the ideals of priesthood and church.

With regard to architecture and art, the enlightenment concepts led to the spread of cultures that primarily resulted from colonization. For example in the 19th century, theatre designs were explored based on conventions where in North America they were established in the Baroque era. In this case, theatre was viewed more than a place to perform plays, opera and representations in drama. It was changed into a focal point where the society displayed its fashion and in most cases, it showed its latest tastes and styles. Through different dramatic expressions and interpretations theatre mirrored trends in culture where it captured the social changes and moods.

The German's advent of romantic operas coined the establishment of a new theme that was found within the first half of the century defining the term "romantic" as the quest for a cultural vision that encompassed all in the society. The Festspielhaus founded by Richard Wagner in 1876 introduced an innovation series on both decorative levels and narratives that represented two inherent aspects of art that were interlinked. In this context, balconies and galleries were abolished and were replaced by the fan-shaped stalls that were appreciated by the audiences since they provided a more comfortable lateral stage view. The orchestras were hidden between the stage and the stall where the audience space was left in darkness when the performances were in progress. The dramatic realism trend later brought a revision of the way presentations were done for performances. More attention was paid on the accuracies of historical reconstructions, even details, costumes sets and lighting that meant that in future no lone theatrical aspects of production would be peripheral-judged again.

In America, the influential figure in molding of the American classicism through architecture was the then third president Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) who was  scholarly in his approach. The architecture developed by Thomas was to express the republican ideals of the new America. The architecture adopted the Palladian style in the design of the house that saw the rejection of the English style. After independence, the president found the principles and style in roman architecture that he had seek for many years. This was made possible owing to his posting as a foreign minister in France between the year 1784 and 1789. The designs were discovered in the Provence ruins and was used in the design of State Capitol at Richmond in 1785 becoming one instance of classical buildings that was then applied in building of monumental buildings. This later coined the vocabulary for the democratic architecture globally. The beginning of 19th century witnessed the ascent of two architectural trends that were, Adam also called the federal and the revival style of the Greeks. The Adam derived its identity from the year 1789-1830 when the US federal government came into place but it was more rooted in the British neoclassicism where French influences were discerned and they reflected the pro-sentiment of the revolution. The Greek revival reached its popularity peak in the year 1820 following the archeological discoveries that were made in Europe.  In the design of Harrison Gray Otis house in 1806  by Bulfinch, exemplification were made of  the federal house style within its composition and harmony.

Artistically, the enlightenment concept led to the criticism of the monarchy hence the onset of many revolutions in Europe. The monarchy and aristocracy was accused of corruption through the Rococo art in France under Louis XVI that was seen as indecent and immortal and it  called for the establishment of a new art that would be moral and that taught  the people what was right and what was wrong. Following this kind of thinking, French citizens were left angry and hungry and in the year 1789, the French revolution started. The first stage saw the revolutionaries ask for a constitution that was to limit the powers of the king. The idea did not succeed and it  led to the radical stage where in 1792 the French king was beheaded together with his wife along many aristocrats who supported the monarchy. From this revolution, the enlightenment philosophy was represented through a messianic and violent lens. The rationality desires led the government to attempt ending the Catholic Church and in that case Christianity in France.

II).impressionism and various arts characteristics derived from its visual qualities


The art of impressionism did not rise from any manifesto or theory. It is seen more of an artistic sharing of the same idea at a particular time in the art history. The movement of impressionism led to the evolution of art in a complex way where its first developmental signs were identified in the early 1860s. Collective conscious was not witnessed until the year 1867 and 1869 .The motivational force aiding impressionism is the desire by many small artists to view painting in a way that is completely opposed to what is practiced in sacrosanct environments of a salon. The artists in this case, were having different personalities and from different schools. They embarked in different ways coming up with different and new artistic styles.

The first steps of systematic impressionism were done in France in the years 1866 and it chose a subject that overly used a palette full of primary colors. The decisive advancement took place in the year 1869 where Monet and Renoir worked together at the la Grenouillere resort. The resulting picture produced by the two artists showed that Monet had used brushstrokes bringing the picture to light tonality whereas Renoir had recreated the delight of ordinary people. The impressionism movement was first started through painting that later was translated into music. The impressionistic paintings usually comprised of works that were done between 1867 and 1886 by artist having the same techniques and approaches. A conspicuous impressionism characteristic is the attempt to objectively and accurately record realities in the visual sense through transient effects of color and light.

The dissatisfaction of the early painters led to the rejection of conventional idealizing and imaginative treatment. In the year 1860, many artist were producing artwork that reflected new value in aesthetics that later become the leading guiding force in works of impressionists where the traditional core matter was downgraded and more attention was given to the artists' manipulation of tone, color and texture. In Manet's painting, this became a subject that was used by other many painters as a vehicle in the composition of artful paintings that had depth perspectives and flat color minimized allowing the viewer to look at these relationships and surface patterns rather than looking at the three dimension illusions created by the picture. The impressions created by Eugene Boudin acted as an inspirations to Monet where they displayed the fleeting effects in sea vessels through sky and sea combinations where colors were highly applied to bringing out the textually varied painting through varied paint applications. In this setup, Monet was able to adopt the practice allowing painting to be done out-of-doors where the actual scenes were viewed rather than using sketches that were formerly a common practice.

In the 1860s, impressionist painters were able to record dispassionately the forms and colors as they naturally appeared during given times of the year. Here, the traditional landscape palette was abandoned where more lighter and brilliant pictures were produced. The new method of paining was based on painting the reflected play of light upon water where reproduction was done through animated effects and manifolds of shadows and sunlight and of the reflected and direct light that was observed.

As painting advanced, challenges were generated where the likes of Georges Seurat decided to move from the traditional impressionistic standpoint to a technique that was referred to as pointillism. This was a deliberately designed form of painting and consisted of tiny dot usage, brush stroke dabbing that had more characteristics of impressionist mainstream painting. The technique also entailed the juxtaposition of colors on the canvas and it went against the traditional mixing of canvas colors directly rather than doing it on the palette. In this technique, the tiny unmixed colors were placed close to each other where they seemed to blend and mix when the painting was observed from a proper distance. The technique provided one with an optical effect that was special. Through such special effects the figures and landscape were played on moving light, shadows and color where they shimmered. To achieve this, the canvas were made vibrant through vibrational movement and energy. The paintings thus represented the viewer standing in front of them with a new kind of observational challenge. This called upon the viewer to reassemble and process all the tiny points of color on the canvas where they should juxtapose the isolated hues into new compositional shades. The viewer was finally implicitly asked to reflect and register throughout the impressions color and light fleets. This was in many cases in motion thanks to the fostered optical illusion portrayed by this pointillist method.       

In the quest to reproduce the immediate impressions recorded on the retina, the use of gray and blacks shades  was abandoned in representation of shadows where they were termed as inaccurate. For these reasons, the use of complimentary colors was advocated for where objects were created out of flecks that were discrete and through the harmonization of contrasting colors that evoked the brilliance of the broken hue produced by reflections of sunlight. In this kind of painting , the picture form ended up loosing their outlines where they became dematerialized, vibrating and shimmering due to the recreation of outdoor conditions. Traditional composition of forms was abandoned to pave way for the less contrived and casual object disposition found within the picture frame.


Camille Pissarro is another painter in the impressionist era whose paintings were not dramatic. However, his leading motifs of 1870 and 1880 paintings were outstanding where forms that were painted did not dissolve rather they remained firm and colors were strong. This characteristic painting was attained through use of the comma-shaped brushstrokes that recorded the sparkling light scintillations. Pissarro later embraced the theories of fellow neo-impressionist such as Georges where he did his paintings through a technique that meticulously consisted of juxtaposed small painted dots. This was referred to as the divisionist style and it proved to be unpopular among painting dealers.     

In the musical field, Claude Debussy has been considered as an impressionist. Though impressed and influenced by impressionist painters and their attitudes Claude made no attempts in composing his music through techniques that were similar to those used in painting. The characteristics of Claude's music varied considerably from the first to the last composition where impressionistic traits were absent. Some of renowned impressionistic musical works are the " nuages" and the opera "pelleas et melisande". In this context, music impressionism has always been thought to refer to amorphous passivity, subtle fragility and vague music moods. The characterization of impressionistic music can be accurately defined through understatement and restraints, quality statics and colorful effect that is provocative resulting in fascination of the composer where pure sound are made beautiful throughout the music. From a technical point of view, these characteristics usually result from the use of ambiguous tone, static harmony use of less formal contrast coupled by an  rhythmic drives where blurring of differences in accompaniments and melody are done. Impressionism has always been considered as a move from the romanticism excesses where most of its characteristics can be found in composers' works that are considered expressionists and precursors of romance.

Other impressionist music composers of the past considered themselves as classicist. They used the traditional techniques in expressing their innovative harmonies. Such musicians included Joseph Maurice Ravel whose music was unique in that the transition between one section to the other was hidden making the audience blurred in cracking the motif. This kind of music based on a tonal center has been viewed by many as classy and innovative. Ravel's music like many contemporary music, had modal melodies used in minor and major bends such as in Aeolian and mixolydian. They are marked by unresolved complexity and appoggiaturas and they were influenced by different styles of dancing where the most predominant was the minuet. With time, the music style was revisited where it was revised to be later produced in a complex and meticulous way.


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