The Age of Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was a movement in the 18th century based on knowledge and philosophy. Enlightenment included ideas centered on reason as the main source of legitimacy and authority, and advocated ideals such as freedom, tolerance , the separation of church and state , constitutional governance, and fraternity. The period of the Enlightenment was associated with the redefinition of European communication, politics and art. The movement was also characterized by individuals (known as “thinkers”) who tried to find logical explanations for unexplained phenomena. The Enlightenment movement is one of the most important in history as it has stimulated other movements such as the 19th century Romanticism movement.
The movement can be traced back to 17th century Europe when Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, John Locke among others were making discoveries that altered the theological beliefs and doctrines of the time. While previous beliefs and artistic expressions were often inspired by theology and mythical beliefs, the Enlightenment movement believed that knowledge was obtained with greater precision through accumulated experience and experiments.
While the Enlightenment is used to define the movement that has spread throughout Europe, individual European countries have had their only variation of movement. The Illumination movement is said to have occurred in three distinct phases with key figures during each phase. These phases include the Early Enlightenment Period (1685-1730) in which Isaac Newton and John Locke were some of the key figures. The other stage is the Enlightenment Period of 1730-1780 which was highlighted by despots like Frederick the Great of Prussia and the American Thomas Jefferson. The last period is the Late Lighting Periodof 1780-1815 which was highlighted by the French revolution led by Napoleon. This gave way to the rise of the 19th century Romanticism Movement.
Architectural styles during the age of enlightenment
Columns are a popular feature of neoclassical architecture.
The architectural projects developed during the period of the Enlightenment were inspired by scientific studies and presented ideal proportions and geometric shapes. This form of architecture is generally known as Enlightenment rationalism or neoclassicism . The architects of the period based their projects on science and opposed projects based on “archaic” beliefs and traditions. Spheres, cylinders and cubes are the primary geometric shapes used. Some of the architects of the period include Claude Nicholas Ledoux and Quatremere de Quincy.
Visual arts during the age of enlightenment
Just like architecture, visual artists based their works on science and philosophy during the Enlightenment period. Most works of art are influenced by philosophical ideas related to reason. The paintings of this period are characterized by their simplicity and lack of religious themes.
Music during the age of enlightenment
During the Enlightenment period, many musical compositions were created and inspired by philosophical ideals, including pieces by George Frideric Handel whose music gained national popularity in his native country of Great Britain, where it was played extensively as speakers and operas. The period also led to the simplification of the trade which saw the rise of many amateur musicians who were able to learn the new compositions.
Critics of the Age of Enlightenment
Many critics have expressed their criticism of the Enlightenment movement and have argued that the scientific ideas of the movement were out of touch with emotion. They also saw the movement as sacrilegious.