The Baroque Style of Art Marked the End of the Renaissance

As the Renaissance waned in Europe, the Counter Reformation had finally run its course. The struggle for power and dominance in Europe between Catholicism and Protestantism had not ended, however the Catholic Church was steadily regaining strength again, and was back in a position to influence society and culture. Its power to monopolize society, however, was not re-granted, as Protestantism remained a challenging force that retained its own followers. Those who had been leaders in the Counter Revolution, Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Theresa of Avila, Filippo Neri, and Isiforo Agricola, were sainted. (Janson & Janson, 2004, p. 558). After this honor they left Europe to lead the wave of international colonization in Africa and the Americas.�¯�¿�½

The Baroque style of the arts should deviate its relationship from the Counter Reformation at this point, as it was tethered to Italian society as Mannerism was. It did not limit its influence to religious art, nor did it remain as a local flavor of style. Instead it spread North and West to Protestant artists who used this style to interpret more secular subjects. (Janson & Janson, 2004, p. 558).�¯�¿�½

The time period that was dominated by the Baroque style was a turbulent one. It was an age of shifting alliances, changing world views, and demographic disbursement. Almost every country in the world experienced the turbulence of warfare, slavery, and brutal piracy. The Thirty Year War waged between France, who wanted to expand their European Empire, and the Hapsburgs, who ruled over the Germanic Provinces. (Janson & Janson, 2004, p. 558). The Treaty of Westphalia, finally brought this bloody and brutal war to an end in 1648, permanently granting the United Provinces freedom from France, however a series of smaller battles with England and France continued on for another 31 years. (p. 558).�¯�¿�½

The development of science was also an important revolutionary element during this time period, especially in regards to the development of the Baroque style. Scientists like Kepler, Galileo, Copernicus, Descarte, and Newton helped to separate the supernatural and the natural physics of the world. Instead of relying on religious ideas to government the rationality of an art subject’s depiction, scientific calculations and relationships were used to form accurate perspectives of objects, their placement in a composition, size, intensity of color, and lighting. (Janson & Janson, 2004, pp. 558-559). The Baroque style gained insight through these new sciences, and the developments and advancements in optical physics and physiology further enhanced it. (p. 559).Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½

The combination of political revolution, scientific revolutions, and the personal independence from absolutism allowed artists in the Baroque era to interpret the Baroque style in a variety of different ways. Each region was influenced by different political, social, and religious elements, that gave Baroque performing arts, painting, sculpture, and architecture region flavor and diversity that sets it apart from the other stages of the Renaissance that relied heavily on imitation of other geniuses’ works, and the classical rebirth of ancient Greek and Roman creations. In this era, for the first time in centuries, individuality was making a come back. It is here that artists like Coravaggio, creator of St. Matthew and the Angel, and The Calling of St. Matthew (Janson & Janson, 2004, pp. 559-561), Artemisia Gentileschi, creator of Judith and Her Maidservant (pp. 561-563), and Pietro Da Cortona, creator of the ceiling frescos in the great hall of the Barberini Palace in Rome (p. 567), were able to demonstrate the illusionary powers of the new sciences and perspectives of the world.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½


Janson, H.W. & Janson, Anthony F. (2004). History of Art: The Western Tradition. (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall.

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