Baroque Art Essay

Baroque Art Essay

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After the Protestant Reformation began to take hold, the Catholic Church responded with their own Counter Reformation. To combat the spread of Protestantism, the Church developed a new style of art that was dramatic, full of emotion, and very realistic. This new style, which came to be known as Baroque, contrasted with the genre paintings of the Protestant North that were often used to teach moral lessons (Sullivan). Originating in Italy in the 16th century, it was used by the Church to retain followers by depicting religious scenes that were expressive, visually interesting, and interactive (Fiero 203).
The most noticeable characteristic of Baroque was the sense of movement, energy, and tension artists created in their artwork (Sullivan). Strong contrasts of light and dark shadows, with light sources appearing to come from beyond the canvas, in addition to the posing of the figures, gave viewers the feeling they were viewing a theatrical performance taking place within the painting. Unlike their Renaissance predecessors, Baroque artists strove for a realistic interpretation of nature, rather than an idealized idea of perfection (Fiero 203).
One of the first artists to make a clear break from the Renaissance style was Michelangelo Merisi, or better known as Caravaggio (Sullivan). Considered the leading artist of the seventeenth century, he readily rejected the artistic conventions of dignity, beauty, and perfection from the Renaissance era (Fiero 203). Working primarily from Rome, he favored subjects from the New Testament. He would create his narrative by placing religious figures in the local streets of his modern day Italy (Varriano). This can be seen in is painting The Calling of St. Matthew, the second painting from a...


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...assionate Art
Lovers. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2013. .

Fiero, Gloria. "Renaissance Artists: Disciples of Nature, Masters of Invention." Intercultural Humanities: Medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation. Unknown: McGraw Hill, 2013. 202-223, 227-228, 261-263, 277-284. Print.

Sullivan, Edward. "Baroque." Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. Microsoft,
2001. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. .

Palmisano, Blair. "The Baroque Period of Art." The Baroque Period of Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. .

Varriano, John. "Baroque (1600-1750)." Scholastic. Scholastic, n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. .

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