Art and the Enlightenment

Ref: C2226783

The art of the 18th century explore and reflect enlightenment ideals of progress and the power of reason in many different ways. Artists turned to science as a subject matter, the rediscovery of the Classical past evidenced the possibilities for the art and society in the present and new academies contributed to the establishment of rules for art making. This is a wide-ranging course covering a variety of artists such as Simeon Chardin, Jacques-Louis David, Joshua Reynolds, Joseph Wright of Derby and many more. We will discuss the impact of the discoveries of Roman material culture at Herculaneum and Pompeii, analyse the educational aims of the Grand Tour and unpick the creation of Neo-Classicism.

Additional information about this course

Half term 18/02/2020

Course aim

This course provides an overview of art in mainly France and England in the 18th century; exploring the different ways art production relates to enlightenment ideals of progress and the power of reason.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Analyse the relationship between art and the concept 'enlightenment'.
  • Discuss how art theory was developed in the new academies.
  • Analyse paintings in their historical context.
  • Reflect on the 18th century understanding of the past and how it influenced the art of the present.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • There will be a number of tasks appropriate to your course such as written work, creating art or craft, video, photography or small projects. Some of these may be marked to help you progress

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

Art and the Enlightenment

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has started and there are no online enrolment places available.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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