Art and Literature

Portraits in the Characters of the Muses in the Temple of Apollo by Richard Samuel, oil on canvas, 1778. © National Portrait Gallery. NPG 4905. Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Elizabeth (Robinson) Montagu

Called the ‘Queen of the Bluestockings’ in her own time, Elizabeth Montagu was perhaps the best-known salon hostess during the second half of the eighteenth century.
Erasmus Dawin

Erasmus Darwin

DAUPHIN Caroline
Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) was the author of The Temple of Nature, in which he considers the concept of sociability as one of the keys to the evolution of species: love and sympathy guide the species toward perfection through the multiple changes caused by transformism.
Horace Walpole

Horace Walpole (and the English Garden)

LE PAPE Isabelle
Par la richesse de ses relations sociales dont on connaît les retentissements grâce aux correspondances échangées avec ses compatriotes et des personnalités françaises influentes, comme Madame Du Deffand, Horace Walpole contribua largement à la diffusion du modèle du jardin anglais en France durant la seconde moitié du XVIIIe siècle.
James Boswell

James Boswell

After a restricted childhood, Boswell as a young man broke out to become a hard-drinking womaniser and dedicated socialiser. He also devoted considerable time to seeking out the company of great men, not least the famous Samuel Johnson.
Jane Austen

Jane Austen

DILLE Catherine

As a novelist of manners and an acute observer of human interactions, Jane Austen analysed the implications of late Georgian and Regency sociability with regard to gender and social rank. Critiquing earlier notions of polite sociability, her fictions recognise new sites of provincial recreation and explore the intersection between sociability and courtship while also probing sociability’s power to unify communities.

Portrait of Joseph Addison (1672-1719)

Joseph Addison

Joseph Addison was an important theorist of sociability best known for his essays published in The Tatler (1709-1711) and The Spectator (1711-1712, 1714). His essays promoted and exemplified an ideal of polite sociability that became extremely influential in the eighteenth century and afterwards.