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An examination of the characteristics of baroque art

On the other side were those who wanted reform: The former actively used painting and other artistic disciplines to impress their congregations and subjects with the truth of their message. So Church authorities built magnificent churches, decorated with illusionistic fresco painting on the ceilings and walls, using the latest quadratura techniques and trompe l'oeil methods, in order to stimulate piety and convey an impression of the splendour of the divine.

And they commissioned an endless stream of Biblical artdesigned to illustrate important parts of Catholic theological dogma. Meantime, Emperors and Kings proclaimed their own authority by hiring architects to build palaces, embellished with murals, oil painting and other forms of decorative art. Reformers typically disapproved of this type of religious artpreferring instead to whitewash the interiors of churches. However, among the nations and provinces of northern Europe, a new breed of patron began to emerge - the middle class professional, merchant or office-holder - who began buying small-scale artworks in order to celebrate their growing affluence and promote their own cultural values.

In France, the same trend was evident in the demand for realist works by the Le Nain brothers and similar artists. Curiously, in Italy, where realist 'low brow' content had first emerged in works by Caravaggiothe Church authorities had cleverly exploited it for their own ends, to make Saints look more human. Thus almost all Caravaggio's paintings were religious. Baroque painting - in this case landscape painting - was also influenced by the general widening of human intellectual horizons, triggered by developments in science and by geographical explorations of the globe.

  • Reformers typically disapproved of this type of religious art , preferring instead to whitewash the interiors of churches;
  • In fact, he was the model sculptor for all those that followed him in the historical timeline;
  • Le Brun used his position as Director of the French Academy to exert total control over French painting 1663-83.

These two factors produced a new sense both of human insignificance and of the mysterious complexity of the natural world. Thus in the landscape painting of the period we see humans often portrayed as tiny figures in a vast natural setting. Characteristics In addition to the two main characteristics of Baroque painting outlined above: Classicism and Naturalism in Italian 17th Century Painting. In addition, 5 Baroque architects made full use of the mural painting skills of painters like Andrea Pozzo and Pietro da Cortona, whose trompe l'oeil fresco ceilings continue to inspire to this day.

Illusionist Architectural Murals and Ceiling Paintings It is appropriate to begin an account of Baroque painting with its favourite genre and characteristic function: Obviously the idea of using a wall to display a painted scene was as old as art; what was new, or almost new, was the use made of this technique of mural painting by Baroque artists.

An examination of the characteristics of baroque art

On the walls, and more especially on the ceilings, of churches and palaces they painted vast, busy scenes, which tend to produce upon the spectator a trompe l'oeil impression that the walls or ceiling no longer exist, or at least that they open out in an exciting way. This, too was not essentially new: In the Baroque period, however, it became almost an absolute rule, combining as it did all the aesthetic features of the time: It showed that tendency to combine various forms of art for a unified effect which was the most distinctive characteristic of the age.

Such illusionist art - among them some of the best Baroque paintings ever created - varied greatly in the stories they told - lives of saints, histories of dynasties, myths, or tales of heroes - but they were consistent in the components they deployed: Such was the vitality of the genre that it continued not only throughout the seventeenth century but well into the eighteenth, invading the limits of time generally considered to demarcate the succeeding An examination of the characteristics of baroque art movement.

Baroque painters who specialized in such murals and ceiling paintings included: Thereafter, we have Parma-born Giovanni Lanfranco 1582-1647influenced by the frescoes of Correggio; Bernini 1598-1680more famous as architect and sculptor; Pietro da Cortona 1596-1669 - see his immortal Allegory of Divine Providence 1633-39, Palazzo Barberini ; Andrea Sacchi 1599-1661who exemplified High Baroque Classicism, and his pupil Carlo Maratta 1625-1713. Luca Giordano 1634-1705 and Andrea Pozzo 1642-1709 - see his Apotheosis of St Ignatius 1688-94, Sant'Ignazio, Rome - were also great exponents of the Baroque style of quadratura ceiling decoration.

See also the Neapolitan decorative painter Francesco Solimena 1657-1747whose fresco works link the late Baroque with the Rococo. Another important Italian artist was Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione 1609-64best known for his etching, Biblical genre painting with animals and his pioneering use of monotype. In France, Charles Le Brun 1619-90 was the heir to Pietro da Cortona's decorative brilliance, which he applied to his murals at the Palace of Versaillesnotably those in the Hall of Mirrors.

Le Brun used his position as Director of the French Academy to exert total control over French painting 1663-83. For the golden age of interior design in France during the Baroque, see: For artists and craftsmen, see: There was also, and indeed especially, a tradition of painting on canvas, and as with architecture the characteristics of the various national schools differed widely.

An examination of the characteristics of baroque art

They had one concern in common, however: In spite of the great divergences between the work of various artists in the Baroque period - divergences so great that many art critics are not prepared to designate their work by a single common adjective - the thematic use of light and shade in constructing any significant work was, to a greater or lesser degree, common to them all, to the extent of being the key feature and unifying pictorial motif of the age.

Caravaggio 1573-1610 The impulse towards adoption of this idiom came from Italy, indeed from a single Italian artist, Michelangelo Merisi, known as Caravaggio from the name of the small town where he was born.

Although his work has been more attacked by some critics than appreciated, there is no doubt that he marked the beginning of a new epoch. At the time of Caravaggio, fine art painting had fully attained the objectives that it had been set two centuries before - namely, the perfect representation of nature in all its manifestations.

Baroque art

A new line of investigation was required, one congenial to the age; and this Caravaggio supplied. His paintings showed sturdy peasants, innkeepers, and gamblers; and though they might sometimes be dressed as saints, apostles, and fathers of the Church they represented reality in its most crude and harsh aspect.

  • For artists and craftsmen, see;
  • The faces of the three boys are illuminated in surprise as they see the vision of Christ.

This was in itself a break with Renaissance art, with its aristocratic figures and idealized surroundings. The most important aspect of Baroque painting was not however what was represented but how it was represented. The painting was not lit uniformly but in patches; details struck by bright, intense light alternated with areas of dark shadow.

If in the final analysis a Renaissance painting was coloured drawing with overall lighting, a canvas by Caravaggio was a leopard's skin of strong light and deep, intense shadow, in which the highlights are symbolic; that is, they indicated the important elements of the composition. It was a dramatic, violent, tormented style of painting, eminently suited to an age of strong aesthetic contrasts, as the Baroque period was.

His greatest paintings include the following: