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

1594, Caravaggio 1731, Canaletto 1749, Panini 1773, Wright

Upcoming Events

Dec
18
Thu
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Dec 18 @ 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 [...]
Dec
19
Fri
12:00 pm Gallery Talk: Rembrandt Peale’s Portrait of Raja Ram Mohun Roy
Gallery Talk: Rembrandt Peale’s …
Dec 19 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Gallery Talk: Rembrandt Peale’s Portrait of Raja Ram Mohun Roy
Rembrandt Peale, Raja Ram Mohun Roy, 1833, Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA Gallery Talk: Rembrandt Peale’s Portrait of Raja Ram Mohun Roy: [...]
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Dec 19 @ 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 [...]
Dec
20
Sat
1:00 pm Hartford City Ballet’s The Nutcracker Suite
Hartford City Ballet’s The Nutcr…
Dec 20 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Hartford City Ballet’s The Nutcracker Suite: The Hartford City Ballet performs its popular annual holiday classic The Nutcracker Suite. For tickets and more info visit hartfordcityballet.org [...]
1:00 pm Tour: Highlights
Tour: Highlights
Dec 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 [...]

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Hours & Admission

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
Children (age 12 & under): Free
First Thursdays (from 5-8 pm): $5