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The contribution of the Salon and the Masonic Lodge to the circulation of enlightened ideas in eighteenth-century Europe

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The extent to which the Masonic Lodge and the Salon contributed to the circulation of enlightened ideas across Europe.
    1. The Salon and the Lodge's promotion significantly the Enlightenment across Europe.
    2. The Masonic Lodge and the Salon as an exhibition of paintings.
    3. Places that gave a physical expression to enlightened ideas.
    4. A particular characteristic of the Masonic Lodge.
  3. The Masonic constitutionalism.
    1. The new enlightened society.
    2. The appearance of very popular artists.
    3. The ideal society called for by the freemasons.
  4. The Salon.
    1. An enlightened education for most citizens.
    2. The lodge: Considered as a school.
    3. The education provided by the Salon.
    4. The final aim of the critics.
    5. Originally created by the Royal Academy of Painting.
    6. The dependence of te exhibitions on the Directeur's goodwill.
  5. The Masonic Lodge.
    1. Equality between 'brothers' in an ideal society.
    2. Socially exclusive.
    3. Hostility towards the world of 'profanes'.
  6. Conclusion.
  7. Bibliography.

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)[34]. 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. [...]


[...] More generally, the Masonic Lodge and the Salon were conveyors of enlightened ideas. The Masonic Lodge created a new model for society, and thus it was also a noteworthy promoter of many progressive ideas. The Salon played an important part as well in the circulation of enlightened ideas, mainly through education and the reduction of social division. The ideal society called for by the freemasons assumed the equality and the fraternity between men. Within the lodge, there was a ?brotherhood of equals[13]?. [...]

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