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From Reason to Revolution: Art and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain

The numerous paradoxes of the so-called ’Age of Reason’ are explored through highlights from the Fitzwilliam Museum’s eighteenth-century collections: paintings, prints, drawings, rare books, ceramics, sculpture - many from the Founder’s original bequest.

The influence of the antique on professional artists and architects is clear from countless architectural drawings and landscape views produced on the Grand Tour. These are juxtaposed with sketches, caricatures and souvenirs characterising the mundane aspects of continental travel.

The social climate in Britain is examined through artworks relating to prominent individuals, working people and rising professionals. Scientific and industrial advances are documented alongside representations of the fundamental human conflicts that they brought to the fore.

A century of enlightenment, inspired by increasingly far-reaching international exploration, also witnessed the peak of transatlantic slavery. The slave trade, and the dramatic campaigns against it that culminated in its abolition in Britain in 1807, are explored alongside works that show responses to the revolutions in America and France.

From Reason to Revolution is accompanied by an illustrated guide, which provides visitors with the exhibition’s historical context.

With support from Cambridge University Press | The Marlay Group

Tue 23 October 2007 to Sun 27 January 2008
Mellon Gallery (Gallery 13)
Free Admission

Related Links

Podcast - From Reason to Revolution: Art and Society in Eighteenth Century Britain

with Duncan Robinson

In this podcast Duncan Robinson, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge provides a personal introduction to the Museum's exhibition 'From Reason to Revolution: Art and Society in Eighteenth Century Britain'. The Director gives a fascinating insight into his own enthusiasm for the Eighteenth Century, before inviting the listener to 'enter the gallery' itself for a guided audio tour around the exhibits, accompanied by a slideshow of images from the exhibition.


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