During the 18th century, the political and cultural complexion of Europe changed considerably. Russia became a European power, the central Germanic provinces remained disunited and Britain was a colonial and sea power. France was an absolute monarchy, and under Louis XIV became the most powerful nation in Europe until the French Revolution (1789).
It is the century of "The Enlightenment", where humanitarian and secular beliefs flourished. Intellectuals sought the betterment of humanity through proper education, science, rationalism, and freedom. Humanitarian ideals were embodied in the American colonies' Declaration of Independence. Great artists such as Gainsborough, Fragonard, Boucher, David, and Canaletto reflected these ideals in their art.