British art: 18th century

The British avoid a revolution, engage in the slave trade, build a global empire, and begin the industrial revolution.

1700 - 1800

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Wren, Saint Paul’s Cathedral
Wren, Saint Paul’s Cathedral

Like a phoenix, this church rose from the ashes. Wren’s enormous dome was the first of its kind in England.

Joseph Wright of Derby, <em>A Philosopher Giving a Lecture at the Orrery</em>
Joseph Wright of Derby, A Philosopher Giving a Lecture at the Orrery

This scene resembles a religious conversion, yet the central planetary model is only miraculous in its mechanics.

Thomas Gainsborough, <em>Mr. and Mrs. Andrews</em>
Thomas Gainsborough, Mr. and Mrs. Andrews

With its relaxed poses and outdoor setting, this portrait exemplifies the “conversation piece.” But is it finished?

William Hogarth, <em>A Rake’s Progress</em>
William Hogarth, A Rake’s Progress

This satirical series charts the fall of a womanizer whose decadent lifestyle lands him in debt, then bedlam.

William Hogarth, <em>Marriage A-la-Mode</em>
William Hogarth, Marriage A-la-Mode

Smooth talkers, vain aristocrats, disreputable doctors, unfaithful lovers—Hogarth’s moralizing takes no prisoners.

Sir Joshua Reynolds, <em>Lady Cockburn and Her Three Eldest Sons</em>
Sir Joshua Reynolds, Lady Cockburn and Her Three Eldest Sons

What’s with the parrot? Balancing the composition, Reynolds added his own feathery pet to this handsome family.