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The Art of JAMA
December 15, 2015

Le Discret (The Silence): Joseph Ducreux

JAMA. 2015;314(23):2482-2483. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.12147

The Enlightenment was an era of broad cultural shifts and was witness to upheavals of long-entrenched paradigms from the mid to late 18th century. New revolutionary ideas like the separation of church and state, the practice of reason over faith, and the application of natural law began affecting all facets of life. Most notably, in many European capitals the validity of governments and the sovereignty of royal families was thwarted. In art, these ideas engendered a new concentration on empiricism combined with didactic messages of morality and nationalism. Large-scale and highly detailed history paintings revived scenes from classical subjects to focus its audience on republican values and created a new style called Neoclassicism. A close witness to these changes was the painter Joseph Ducreux (1735-1802).