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Essay on Baroque Art

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Baroque art can be described as a “distinctive new style” in which artists embraced “dynamism, theatricality, and elaborate ornamentation, all used to spectacular effect, often on a grandiose scale”. Baroque art encompasses a vast range of art from the dramatic and theatrical Italian pieces, as the quote suggests, to the more simple and every-day life but still fabulous Dutch pieces. Baroque art can hardly be contained in one description because it describes so many types of art, in great part due to the religious, socio-economic, and political scenes of the time. Religiously, the Catholic Church was responding to the Reformation by creating dramatic pieces to invoke piety and devotion. Politically, monarchies and rulers were using commissioned art to emphasize their authority and their given right to rule. Socio-economically, the middle class was rising and therefore wanting to buy and commission pieces of art to boost their reputation and validate their status in the social scene. These three changes were extremely significant but can by no means generalize the entire historical context of Baroque art. Instead, they stand as specific examples of important reasons for the range and breadth of Baroque art.
Throughout the 17th century and the Baroque period, the Catholic Church was launching a Counter-Reformation in retaliation of the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church received a setback in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia recognizing religious freedoms and seemingly validating Protestant beliefs. They continued to be staunch supporters of the arts, perhaps even more so than before, in order to restore the validity and supreme authority of the Catholic Church. In the mid 17th century, Gianlorenzo Bernini r...


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...t they are because the Baroque period encompasses so many different types of art with very few similarities. These religious, political, and socio-economic aspects, along with many others, facilitated the breadth of Baroque art. Baroque art can range from the theatrical, dramatic, and ornate to the simple and monochromatic, simply based on the artist, the commissioner, and the context. Baroque art varies so greatly because it encompasses so many countries and areas in one small time frame. While the countries included in the Baroque label share many qualities and characteristics, each is different and was working through its own setbacks and successes. Because the failures and successes varied from country to country, so did the art as each country chose to represent this time period in a way that they felt would preserve their ideals for future generations.




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