Painterly Enlightenment

The Art of Franz Anton Maulbertsch, 1724-1796

By Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann

Painterly Enlightenment

206 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 36 color / 52 b&w illus., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1480-9
    Published: February 2014

Bettie Allison Rand Lectures in Art History

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Franz Anton Maulbertsch (1724-1796) was an Austrian fresco painter known for his bold use of color. Although he has been recognized in the Central European regions where he worked, Maulbertsch has remained outside the general canon of art history. With Painterly Enlightenment, Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann recovers the story of Maulbertsch, offering the first comprehensive English-language study of the long-neglected artist.

Kaufmann situates Maulbertsch as a fresco painter at a time of transition to easel painting, a colorist at a time when color was not fully appreciated by contemporary observers, and an interpreter of religious themes at a time when secular subjects were becoming more popular. In this analysis, he is shown caught between the intellectual forces of the Enlightenment and the waning power of the traditional church, thus helping to illuminate the relationship between the Enlightenment and the arts. Kaufmann provides a thorough foundation for the fresh recognition of one of the great painters of eighteenth-century Europe, a leading fresco painter who is a colorist worthy of comparison to the best of his contemporaries, including the celebrated Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

About the Author

Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann is professor in the department of art and archaeology at Princeton University. He is author of many books, including the award-winning The School of Prague: Painting at the Court of Rudolf II; Court, Cloister and City: The Art and Culture of Central Europe; and Towards a Geography of Art.
For more information about Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, visit the Author Page.


"[Painterly Enlightenment: The Art of Franz Anton Maulbertsch] is an elegant and illuminating volume in which the author presents several possible ways of interpreting Maulbertsch as an Enlightenment painter."--H-German

"A splendidly lucid study that finally gives the great fresco painter his due. Scholars have never quite known how to fit the idiosyncrasies of Maulbertsch's corpus into the broader canon of art history. Kaufmann does just that and more, establishing Maulbertsch's artistic distinctiveness but also his complex relationship to the emergent Enlightenment culture of Habsburg Austria."--James Van Horn Melton, Emory University