The Masonic Lodge embodied the new type of private societies with public effects that developed remarkably over the eighteenth century in Europe. On the contrary, the Salon, as an official exhibition of paintings, was the representation of the influence of the monarchy on artistic matters during the same period of time. Its main characteristic being to be totally opened to the population could make it join the Masonic Lodge as an alternative social space within a monarchy still claiming its complete monopoly over the public sphere. The effect of such a development of social networks was the diffusion of different ideas about society, namely to create the “Enlightenment”. Jürgen Habermas talked about the birth of a new “public sphere” in the eighteenth century, for these networks encouraged the formation of a public opinion different from the monarch's.
[...] The contribution of these two institutions to the circulation of enlightened ideas resides in how they participated to the creation and definition of some of these ideas, and in how they helped their diffusion in Europe. The Masonic Lodge and the Salon were places that gave a physical expression to enlightened ideas. The Lodge, in England first, established a new political and social model for society. The monarchical institution of the Salon paradoxically became the place for artistic innovation thanks to the influence of progressive critics. [...]
[...] However, the “sisters” lacked of autonomy because women were regarded as indiscreet (so they were excluded from Masonic secrets) and corrupters of men (the introduction of love in the lodge would violate the harmony). Lodges of adoption depended on masculine lodges and meetings were chaired by men; women were excluded from Masonic practices and had special sessions for them. The freemasons' mission of enlightening the others was thus indisputably weakened by their scornful attitude towards the “profanes”. The Salon, apart from being dependent on the monarchy, had other features that contrast its participation to the Enlightenment. [...]
[...] The education praised by the lodge could circulate over Europe thanks to a universal language and a cosmopolitan nature: all symbols could be translated, and the lodge was a democratic country of the great republic, which was the Earth. Besides, there was an extensive publication of orations, sermons and almanacs; the Free Mason's Pocket Companion was largely published every year from 1735. By the 1780s, there was a significant interest for these private lodges across Europe, and revolutionaries would be influenced by their desires for republics. [...]
[...] The extension of the Masonic Lodge from Britain to Continental Europe in the early eighteenth century enabled it to spread its constitutional model for society and many other enlightened ideas. Even if some features of the Freemasonry lower its influence upon the development of the European Enlightenment, the masons showed a much greater willing for the progress of equality and knowledge than the Salon. The latter developed into a place where art innovated and highlighted social issues. Yet, even though the Salon participated to the creation of a more enlightened public, it was only because it had been incessantly challenged by educated critiques writers. [...]
[...] Greuze was said to ennoble the rustic genre without altering its truth ibid. p Thomas Munck, The Enlightenment: a comparative social history 1721- 1794, Arnolds p.69. M. C. Jacob, ibid. p T. Munck, ibid. p.64. Thomas E. Crow, ibid. p. 82-88. M. C. Jacob, ibid. p J. A. Leo Lemay, Deism, Masonry and the Enlightenment, Associated University Presses M. C. Jacob, ibid. p Ibid. p Thomas E. Crow, ibid. p [...]
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