The Enlightenment is known as a time of great advances in science, political theory and individual rights. What is often not given proper consideration are the advances made in the fine arts. Out of this time period came the Hudson River Valley School of painting, a return to Greco-Roman architecture, and the explosion in popularity of the performing arts. In each of these cases, the historically secretive organization known as the Freemasons had a role in the patronage of these artists, architects and composers. Most people are aware of the Masons through popular media and although countless conspiracy theories surround this fraternity, they actually played a very tangible role in the dissemination of the arts during the Enlightenment. Many of the most popular artists, composers, architects, and play writers were members of this international order. This paper will examine basic Masonic ideology before identifying examples of the influence of “The Craft” on works of art from this time period. After an analysis of primary sources in the form of paintings, architectural sketches, city planning and plays, the actual role the Masons had in artistic patronage will be identified, such as holding art exhibitions in Masonic Lodges, the networking offered by membership in the organization and financial support between brothers.
First Advisor Department
Second Advisor Department
Money, Jacob, "Freemasons: Patrons of the Enlightenment Arts" (2019). Honors Projects. 436.