18th century

The 18th century is sometimes referred to as the early modern period, the century in which modern man was born. In stylistic terms, 18th-century painting moved in several directions.

In the first part of the century, the style known as Rococo was dominant. Paintings were private and intimate in nature, with a bright, cool palette. Motifs were still drawn from antiquity, but the emphasis was on the sensual and erotic rather than the heroic.

Classicism and nature

In the late 18th century, two main movements predominated. From Rome and Paris came a classicizing ideal with a cool palette and a fondness for classical mythology. The other movement emphasized art’s emotional content and drew inspiration from the new-found interest in nature, which had originated in England.

The art of the 18th century also includes paintings that can be seen as realistic depictions of simple everyday objects and domestic interiors.

Carl-Gustaf Tessin

Nationalmuseum has one of the world’s finest collections of 18th-century French art, thanks to Carl Gustaf Tessin (1695–1770), ambassador and royal art dealer. The works he acquired included The Triumph of Venus by François Boucher, direct from the artist’s studio.

With the Enlightenment, more and more people began to take an interest in educating the masses. Education, literature and art were discussed in the drawing room. Church and clergy began to lose their power. The first museums were built, again for educational purposes. Sweden gained its first museum in 1793: Gustav III’s museum of antiquities in the Royal Palace.



Nationalmuseum Design
@ Kulturhuset Stadsteatern
Sergels torg, Stockholm 

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