Baroque: Protestant vs. Catholic
Before the purity of Neoclassicism, even before the carefree artists of the Rococo era, there was the dramatic and emotive Baroque. The term "baroque" is said to have been derived from the Portuguese word for an irregular pearl, and is certainly an adequate description. In the wake of what has become known as the Protest Reformation, the Catholic Church held the infamous Council of Trent. This eighteen year deliberation addressed several aspects of Catholicism under scrutiny and led to the requirements that new art depicting religious notions should reach the illiterate masses. Up until this point most religious forms of art were designated for the highly educated and sophisticated. This led to the dramatic artistic representations that arose during the Baroque period, roughly 1600 through 1750. Unlike the Renaissance with its strict order and cemetery, Baroque art is emotional and dynamic. Evidence of this non-traditional tendency can be seen in the period known as Mannerist directly preceding the Baroque. The style of Mannerism is noted by its "spatial complexity [and] artificiality" and developed a new "intense" form of visual art (Fiero, 2002, ch.20).
This new visually intense form of expression took on very different characteristics in different regions of Europe, largely in part due to the topics covered at the Council of Trent. In Northern Europe and largely in the Netherlands, the Baroque movement took on a significantly non-secular undertone. This is a result of the predominance of the Protestant faith in this region. The advances in techniques are still noticeable in different examples of the Baroque era from Protestant artists, however due to the nature of the Protestant practice the messages are drastically different. Contrary to Catholics of the time, who worshiped in lavish sanctuaries with elaborate services for mass; Protestants experienced their faith internally. This meant that they enjoyed simple...
References: Fiero, G. K. (2002). The Humanistic Tradition Volume II: The Early Modern World to the Present (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
National Gallery of Art (2006). Rembrandt 's Late Religious Portraits [On Line Tour]. Retrieved April 23, 2006, from http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2005/rembrandt/flash/index.shtm
The Life and Art of Artemisia Gentileschi (2005). Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes . Retrieved April 24, 2006, from http://www.artemisia-gentileschi.com/judith5.html
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (2006). Baroque. Retrieved April 23, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baroque#Baroque_visual_art
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