Works of art and the built environment were of interest to Enlightenment intellectuals, who sought to comprehend connections between perceptions of beauty and human nature.
Celebrated architects and painters created some of the defining works of the 18th century, and the Enlightenment was also a period for promotion of classical works.
In this themed section, visitors can view decorative works as well as items charting the development of ideas around the understanding and promotion of good taste.
Recently digitised early volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica can also be seen. View digitised Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Art and architecture highlights
Printed Homer's 'Iliad'
In Glasgow, the Foulis brothers produced fine printed editions of classical works.
More about printed 'Iliad', 1756
Letter promoting Foulis Academy
The Foulis Academy in Glasgow taught art and design. It was recognised as having great potential by prominent minister Alexander Carlyle (1722-1805).
More about Alexander Carlyle's letter, 1759
Adam brothers' architecture
Robert Adam and his brother James produced some of the finest architectural engravings of the 18th century.
More about 'The Works in Architecture', 1778
'The Gentle Shepherd' artwork
The Foulis Press edition of Allan Ramsay's 1725 pastoral comedy was illustrated by David Allan.
More about 'The Gentle Shepherd' illustration 1788
More section highlights
Among the items in the 'Art and architecture' section are:
- First few volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Alexander Gerrard's 'An Essay on Taste', 1759
- Allan's Ramsay's Neapolitan passport
- Letter from Rome written by Robert Adam
- Bookbinding by James Scott of Edinburgh.