Classical Era: Art and Scientific Discoveries in the 1700’s

In the early Classical Era, English physicist and mathematician, Isaac Newton published Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Principia). In the book Principia, Isaac Newton described universal gravitation and three laws of motion in mathematical way. It was a whole new idea that Newton discovered and his scientific discoveries played a big role in the Enlightenment and influenced many artists. The Enlightenment caused people to look for importance of reason and individualisms, instead of following traditional ideas and views. Today, I would like to analyze the work titled A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery by Joseph Wright of Derby. I’ve chosen this painting because this is a great example of how people or artists in the classical period were influenced by scientific discoveries.

Wright_of_Derby,_The_Orrery
A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery (Joseph Wright of Derby, 1766, Wikipedia)

 

Joseph Wright was an English landscape and portrait painter. He had a strong curiosity in science and he created many works under the influence of science. Public science lectures became popular as the Enlightenment spread across the Europe. The work A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery was created when Joseph Wright of Derby attended to a lecture of John Whitehurst. I can see that A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery shows a great appreciation on science. The peoples in this painting seem curious about the scientific instrument on the table. To the left, a man taking notes looked very desirable to expand his knowledge of science. A boy and a girl looked wondering about what this lecture is all about. I especially enjoy this painting because it includes all ages and genders. This explains people were very fascinated the scientific discoveries of the Classical Era. The characters in the picture also represent that increased in power of middle class and women. The middle class gained accessibility for better education and women were allowed to educate in same place as boys.

pianoforte_vis-a-vis (1)
The First Piano (Bartolomeo Cristofori, 1709, PBworks)

The science discoveries played a big role in classical era. There was a big change in musical world. The piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori in Italy in 1709. The piano was evolved from the harpsichord and clavichord. Cristofori discovered that hammers must strike the string but not stay in contact with it. As results, the vibration of strings at the specific frequency creates different notes.The innovation of the piano has brought the revolution in music during the classical era as well as Today’s music.

The following link shows Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op.13. 2nd Movement. Beethoven wrote this song in 1798 and published in 1799. This is one of my favorite on the piano songs from the Classical Era.

In conclusion, I represented the painting titled A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery as well as the influence of science with this painting. I spent some time analyzing this work and I concluded this is the most influential work of the Classical Era. A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery by Joseph Wright of Derby clearly described people’s curiosity of science and increased in power of middle class and women. This is what made me find this painting so interesting.

Cites

PBworks. “Instrumentation of the Classical Period.” Wolfswiki. 2008. Web. < http://wolfswiki.pbworks.com/w/page/12430900/Instrumentation%20of%20the%20Classical%20Period >.

Smarthistory. “Wright of Derby’s A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery.” Khanacademy. Web. < http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/wright-of-derbys-a-philosopher-lecturing-on-the-orrery.html >.

Wikipedia. “Isaac Newton.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. 06 October 2014. Web. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton >.

Wikipedia. “Joseph Wright of Derby.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. 11 October 2014. Web. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Wright_of_Derby >.

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3 thoughts on “Classical Era: Art and Scientific Discoveries in the 1700’s

  1. hkr11 says:

    From the other blogs that I have read thus far it was a refreshing sight to see that you chose to write about the scientific happenings during the Classical Era. I thought that it was quite interesting. I like that you talked about the piano. I get the same sort of reaction from the painting that you used as well. The people do look really interested in what is happening and I like the fact that you point out that people of all ages and both genders are represented as finding it appealing. I think that you did a nice job!!

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  2. First, I have to say how much I appreciated that you tied the invention on the piano to the scientific revolution. I hadn’t given much thought to when the piano was invented just because it has always existed in my mind when it comes to music (silly I know). I also really liked the painting you chose “A philosopher lecturing on the Orrery.” While at first glance I didn’t find it aesthetically pleasing, I did appreciate the subjects in it so intrigued and intent on learning whatever is being taught to them. I think your examples were very well connected to each other and the idea of the scientific revolution.

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  3. Sorry I forgot one part of my comment so I am just going to re-post the original and add on the rest.

    First, I have to say how much I appreciated that you tied the invention on the piano to the scientific revolution. I hadn’t given much thought to when the piano was invented just because it has always existed in my mind when it comes to music (silly I know). I also really liked the painting you chose “A philosopher lecturing on the Orrery.” Your comments on why you were drawn to the painting caused me to give it another chance. While at first glance I didn’t find it aesthetically pleasing, I did appreciate the subjects in it so intrigued and intent on learning whatever is being taught to them. I think your examples were very well connected to each other and the idea of the scientific revolution.
    Here is a link to some information about the piano in general. They are just some random facts but I thought you might be interested. http://blog.sheetmusicplus.com/2012/06/06/top-10-little-known-facts-about-the-piano/ . What an important advancement for the world of music!

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