Love of the Physical World: Beyond Moral and Religious Disdain


In the eighteenth century, pictures of physical objects, for example, in Dutch painting, had a moral and religious message - people had become too obsessed with material things.

In the nineteenth century, in contrast, people came to love material things for their own sake and the moral and religious detain lost its sting.

Paintings such as this one attempted to trick the eye with the loving attention and detail provided by the artist.

William Harnett, Emblems of Peace, 1890, Metropolitan Museum of Art