The Age of Enlightenment
Toward a rational art: reshaping rhetoric and splendour
The equivalent artistic style to the enlightened idea of reason is the noble antique classicism of the Louis XVI style.
The equivalent artistic style to the enlightened idea of reason is the noble antique classicism of the Louis XVI style. Named after the French king who was on the throne at the time (1774-92), the style was able to manifest visually rational relations of ornamental composition and architectonics as well as the cultural dimensions referring back to the age of venerated antiquity. Paradigmatic, therefore, are the monumental church buildings such as the Hungarian cathedrals of Vác or Szombathely, which combine severe classical exteriors with fine noble interiors in the Louis-XVI style, or as a monument, also in Vác, the quasi-antique triumphal arch erected for the empress Maria Theresia. Corresponding with this attitude in painting and sculpture was the official academic handling of anatomy and composition to guarantee the standard of quality.
Vác Cathedral

1761–1777; 1792
Vác, Pest County, Hungary
Architect: Isidore Ganneval (c. 1730–1786); stonemason: Matthias Chmelik; sculptors: Joseph Bechert, Carlo Adami, Joseph Minich; painters: Franz Anton Maulbertsch (1724–1796), J. M. Schmidt (alias Feigel Georg Kremserschmidt), Balthasar Fischer, Valentin Steiner; Marbling: Martin Karl Keller; Joiner: Joseph Regele; master blacksmith: Johann Georg Birbaum; Bell founder: Adam Wieland; Glazier: Jakob Peziak
The exterior of Vác Cathedral is an outstanding example of an austere Neoclassicism typical of the enlightened era. The combination of the portico motif (which was borrowed from antiquity) and simple block-like geometric shapes was intended to re-introduce rationality to church architecture after it had waned during the heyday of the Baroque.