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The Age of Enlightenment.

The spirit of Elightenment appeared in Spain with the Bourbon dynasty. Indeed, the dynastic change in Spain ushered in extraordinary progress in political thought, science and culture. The 18th century, introducing the Age of Eligtenment, brought about advances in education, science, public works and a rational conception in both politics and life in general.

The creation of new cultural institutions began during the reign of Philip V with the founding in 1714 of the Libreria Real which would become the National Library and the Royal Spanish Academy of Language. Twenty years later the Academies of Medicine, History, Pharmacy, Law, and that of Arts of San fernando were founded.

There was great stimulus in science. The Cabinet of Natural History, the Botanical Gardens, the School of Mineralogy, the Cabinet of Machines of the Retiro, the Royal Laboratory of Chemistry and other Schools of Engineering were soon created.

New minerals and zoological and botanical specimenes were continually being brought back from America thanks to the many scientific expeditions that were organized, also a number of eminent scientists emerged: Lagasca, Mutis, Gomez Ortega, Cavanilles, the Elhuyar brothers, Azara, etc.

In the literary field, political, satirical, cultural and scientific publications began to flourish. The work of Spain's literary figures did not reach the heights of the preceding two centuries, however there were a few prominent names: Leandro Fernandez de Moratin, Diego de Torres Villarroel, Melendez Valdes, Quintana, the fable writers Iriarte and Samaniego, and the extraordinary and playwright and 'costumbrista' (a depiction of regional customs and manners) Ramon de la Cruz. The most outstanding poets included Cadarso Nicasio Gallego and Alberto Lista. The two great figures of the age were Father Feijoo and Jovellanos.

In architecture, the Baroque style gave way to Neo-Classicism. The Bourbons imported a number of foreign artists and Carlos III initiated important public works. Ventura Rodriguez and Juan de Villanueva were the two most important Spanish architects of this epoch during which by the Royal Palace, the Prado Museum and the Gate of Alcala were built.

Painting, on the contrary, declined. Both the Spanish and the foreign painters commissioned with decorating palaces were mediocre. The situation did not change until, at the end of the century, one of the world's greatest painters emerged: Francisco de Goya. Considered as the precursor of all the 'isms', his paintings run the gamut of expression and subjects, from his cheerful cartoons for the Royal Tapestry Factory, the macabre 'Desastres de la Guerra', the nightmarish humour of 'Los Caprichos' (Caprices), his 'Disparates' and bullfighting scenes of 'Tauromaquia' to the dramatic 'Shootings of May 3rd 1808' or the frescos in the chapel of San Antonio de la Florida in Madrid. There is the exhibition of Goya's art in the Prado Museum, where the famed 'Majas' are among his most well-known masterpieces.