Pompeo Batoni, Italian, Tuscan, 1708-1787, Portrait of Sir Humphry Morice, 1762, Oil on canvas, The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1936.43The Age of Pleasure and Enlightenment
August 10, 2013 – February 23, 2014

European art of the 18th century increasingly emphasized civility, elegance, comfort, and informality. During the first half of the century, the Rococo style of art and decoration, characterized by lightness, grace, playfulness, and intimacy, spread throughout Europe. Painters turned to lighthearted subjects, including inventive pastoral landscapes, scenic vistas of popular tourist sites, and genre subjects—scenes of everyday life. Mythology became a vehicle for the expression of pleasure rather than a means of revealing hidden truths. Porcelain and silver makers designed exuberant fantasies for use or as pure decoration to complement newly remodeled interiors conducive to entertainment and pleasure.

As the century progressed, artists increasingly adopted more serious subject matter, often taken from classical history, and a simpler, less decorative style. This was the Age of Enlightenment, when writers and philosophers came to believe that moral, intellectual, and social reform was possible through the acquisition of knowledge and the power of reason. The Grand Tour, a means of personal enlightenment and an essential element of an upper-class education, was symbolic of this age of reason.

The installation highlights the museum’s rich collection of 18th century paintings and decorative arts. It is organized around four themes: Myth and Religion, Patrons and Collectors, Everyday Life, and The Natural World. These themes are common to art from different cultures and eras, and reveal connections among the many ways artists have visually expressed their cultural, spiritual, political, material, and social values.

IMAGE CREDIT: Pompeo Batoni, Italian, Tuscan, 1708-1787, Portrait of Sir Humphry Morice, 1762, Oil on canvas, The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund, 1936.43

From Our Collection

Neel, 1963 1650, Stella Ruff, 1990 1749, Panini

Upcoming Events

Sep
19
Fri
7:00 pm Film: Middle of Nowhere
Film: Middle of Nowhere
Sep 19 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Film: Middle of Nowhere
Film: Middle of Nowhere: When her husband is sentenced to eight years in prison, a woman drops out of medical school in order to focus [...]
Sep
20
Sat
all-day Envisionfest Community Day: The View from Here
Envisionfest Community Day: The …
Sep 20 all-day
Envisionfest Community Day: The View from Here
Envisionfest Community Day: The View from Here: Explore a new point of view at the third annual Envisionfest Hartford – a citywide family-friendly festival that [...]
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Sep 20 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Tour: Highlights: Join a docent for an exploration of the collection. Meet by The Museum Shop. Highlights Tours are offered daily at 1 pm, Wednesday [...]
2:30 pm Tour: Portraiture in the Collection
Tour: Portraiture in the Collection
Sep 20 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Tour: Portraiture in the Collection: Free with admission, meet outside the Museum Shop.
Sep
21
Sun
11:00 am Jazz Brunch: Sting to Swing
Jazz Brunch: Sting to Swing
Sep 21 @ 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Jazz Brunch: Sting to Swing: Join us for a brunch buffet while listening to some of Hartford’s best live jazz music during our Sunday Jazz [...]

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Hours:
Wednesday – Friday: 11 am – 5 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm
First Thursdays: 11 am – 8 pm

Admission:
Members: Free
Adults: $10
Seniors (age 62+): $8
Students (age 13 & over or with college ID): $5
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First Thursdays (from 5-8 pm): $5