Anonyme, (18th Century), France

Title: Sibyl ou Sabine, L’École de David

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This red chalk image is quintessentially art of the 18th century in its quest for ideal form and contour. This sheet was likely drawn in Rome by an artist studying the classical art of Michelangelo. The face and headdress are reminiscent of Michelangelo’s Sibyls drawn and painted for the Sistine Chapel.

The Age of Enlightenment (from the German word Aufklärung, meaning “Enlightenment”) referes to either a period during the 18th century in European and American philosophy, or the longer period including the 17th century and the Age of Reason. It can more narrowly be referred to as the historical intellectual movement, The Enlightenment, which advocated Reason as a means to establishing an authoritative system of aesthetics, ethics, government, and logic, to allow philosophers to obtain objective truth about the universe.

Inspired by the revolution in physics commenced by Newtonian kinematics, Enlightenment thinkers argued that the same kind of systematic thinking could apply to all forms of human activity.  Hence, the Enlightenment is often closely linked with the Scientific Revolution, as both emphasized empiricism, reason, science, and rationality.  The intellectual leaders believed they would lead the world into progress from a long period of doubtful tradition, irrationality, superstition, and tyranny, which they imputed to the Dark Ages.  The movement helped to create the intellectual framework for the American and French Revolutions, the Latin American independence movement, and the Polish Constitution of May 3rd; and led to the rise of classical liberalism, democracy, and capitalism.  The Enlightenment is matched with the Neoclassical period in the arts.


Year: c. 1730
Medium: Red chalk drawing
Image size: 15 ¾  x 20 ½ 
Signature: Unsigned