Art movements come and go. Some last only a short time while others remain
only to be developed into a fresher, more modern style with new philosophies,
techniques and goals. For many art movements they are born out of rebellion:
rebellion of the world's social, cultural and economical changes.
The artists who so passionately despise these changes will immediately abandon
their current style to boldly pronounce that these changes are inappropriate,
unwarranted and in their hearts, unneeded.
Thus, is born a new art movement, a movement that expresses their distaste for
any current or future changes. Critics and patrons alike, in the hope that the
new style of self-expression will succumb to the negative pressures will
ostracize more often than not the new movement and the artisans involved in its
Although the critics and patrons will freely and openly criticize that which
they wish not to acknowledge as "appropriate" art, the condemnation is usually
expressed from the public sector. However, in the early sixteenth-century we
find that the religious sector sought to influence the artistic community.
At they beginning of the sixteenth-century there was a great degree of religious
tension as the Protestants had decided to secede from the Roman Catholic Church.
In response to the Protestant Reformation the Roman Catholic Church initiated
the Counter Reformation Program.
As part of their reformation program the Catholic Church had decided to use art
on a grandiose scale in attempt to reach the largest possible audience. However,
the Council of Trent determined that the church follows certain protocol and
parameters pertaining to their use of art.
The Council of Trent stipulated that any art used by the Roman Catholic Church
must be of clear, intelligent subject matter that would be realistically
interpreted as reference to piety. Also, any works of art were to depict the
subject matter of grandiose visions, intense light and be powerful,
psychological renderings that would invoke deep emotions and intense
Thus, the response to the Protestant Reformation led to the style of art know as
Baroque, with its subject matter of grandiose visions, religious ecstasies and
conversions, martyrdom, death and powerful psychological renderings.
Since the Baroque style was not limited to artisans of painting only, the same
parameters applied to sculptors and architects as well, which was evident from
the fountains and sculptures that were erected throughout the streets of Rome.
Also evident in the European architectures were the use of grand ornamentation
and lines that consisted of curves instead of being straight or angular. Keeping
with the tradition of the baroque, spaces were made to look a lot larger than
they actually were by using vibrant lines that expanded and contrasted.
The Baroque Movement was highly encouraged by the Catholic Church, the most
important patrons of the arts during this period, in hopes of influencing the
people to return to the traditional values of spirituality.
Although the Baroque Movement actually started in Rome, it eventually had its
influence on the artisans of France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain where
the branches of the movement actually branched off into 2 additional forms, but
retaining the basic philosophies.
The Baroque style which dominated the Roman Catholics and practiced by artists
such as Pietro Bernini (1562-1629 Italian Sculptor) and Peter Paul Reubans
(1577-1640) tended to be doctrinally correct, and visually stimulating as well
as emotionally inspiring. The Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610)
style, on the other hand was considered to be revolutionary and contradictory of
the traditional ideas of interpreting religious objects as he often chose as
subject matters; people from the street.
The third and final development of the Baroque style were the paintings depicted
by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) and JanVerneer (1632-1675) which
emphasized the daily life of people in the Flemish countries. With exception to
painters Rembrandt, Sir John Thornhill (1675-1734) and architect Sir John
Vanburgh (1664-1726), the Protestant countries such as Holland and Britain
adamantly resisted the Baroque Art Movement due to it ties with the Catholic
Although predominately a European art movement, Baroque did spill over into
Colonial America where there was an explosive economic growth that made it
possible for the large and prosperous middle-class families to invest in large,
ornate houses and palaces.
The Baroque movement continued until roughly 1750, although some of its
characteristics continued until the 18th-century. However, by the end of the
18th-century "baroque" was coined as a phrase to criticize the style that many
critics deemed too bizarre or outlandish for any serious studies.
While Swiss Cultural Historian Jakob Burchardt considered baroque to be the end
of the Renaissance, his student, Heinrich Wolffin declared that the movement was
neither a rise nor a decline from the classic, it was just a different style of
Despite its intended purpose and it lengthy run, Baroque would soon step aside
for a more modern movement and the moniker "baroque" would eventually, perhaps
incorrectly, be used to describe any style of art, architecture, music or
literature for the entire period from 1600-1750.
The 17th-century, by many historians has been called the Age of Enlightenment.
During this time there were many discoveries taking place that brought the world
to a higher intellectual level. Galalileo and his investigation of the planets,
the realization the earth was not the center of the universe and the development
of the press expanded the world's views on many matters.
Perhaps, with what must have seemed to be a host of dramatic changes during this
time, the fear of religion becoming lost in the shuffle may had been the
Catholic Church's motivation for wanting to keep the religions from separating.
However, as the world changed to keep up with the new discoveries, so did the
ideas and philosophies of her people.
Despite the gallant effort to keep everyone with in one religion it was a
fruitless attempt. As the Protestants moved forward to other countries they
basically denied any association with the Catholic Church, which sings loud and
clear in their refusal to accept the baroque art movement.
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