The Enlightenment

Important Enlightenment Ideas:

  • Belief that humanity and its institutions could be reformed and perfected
  • Proposed equal rights to all white men
  • Free men and women could be expected to act morally and rationally
  • Belief that the purpose of humanity was to pursue their own happiness and fulfillment
  • Purpose of the state was to facilitate this pursuit

Joseph Wright of Derby, A Philosopher Giving a Lecture at the Orrery, c. 1763 - 1765.














Characteristics of Vermeer:
Quiet interior scenes
Contemplative quality
Low-key color
Light from window
Meticulous observation of light
Highly controlled brushwork
Vermeer, Allegory of Painting, 1665.











Rentesses of the Old Men's Alms House
Woman Holding a Balance
Frans Hals, Regentesses of the Old Men's Alms House, 1664.
Jan Vermeer, Woman Holding a Balance,
c. 1664.






















still life = from the Dutch "stilleven", a painting of artfully arranged objects on a table


Market Stall

Frans Snyders, Market Stall, 1614.












vanitas = an image in which the objects symbolize the transience of life and remind the viewer of their own impending doom. Vanitas paintings are usually still lifes or genre subjects

"breakfast piece"
Clara Peters, Still Life with Flowers, Goblet, Dried Fruit and Pretzels, 1611.











Maas at Dordrecht

Aelbert Cuyp, Maas at Dordrecht, c. 1660.