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Comparisons of the Renaissance and Baroque Periods Essay Sample

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Comparisons of the Renaissance and Baroque Periods Essay Sample

Comparisons of the Renaissance and Baroque Periods
Western Governors University

Comparisons of the Renaissance and Baroque Periods
It was the 14th century and Europe was shrouded in creative and intellectual “darkness” as a result of corrupt and oppressive religion. People lived with the burden of twisted theological rules that permeated both business and personal lives. In a small town in Italy, a group of educators and philosophers started re-examining the Classical antiquities of the Roman and Greek times. Their focus migrated from scholasticism of the Middle Ages to the humanities. This enlightenment movement eventually spread throughout Europe and became known as the Renaissance period. (DeWitte, Larmann, & Shields, 2012).

Prior to the Renaissance, the Church had influenced art with emphasis on religious themes. The basic reason for paintings was to be viewed in a religious setting. Art was one dimensional with no shadows and solemn expressions. Statues were non-existent less they be mistaken for idols. But Renaissance art placed emphasize on realism and objectivity. Lighting, lines and form were implemented into paintings. The human body was drawn and sculpted with Roman and Greek influence. Artist attempted to make art that was believable and real. New techniques such as linear perspective, chiaroscuro (use of light and dark) and a wide spectrum of colors were used to project three-dimensional space. Some of the artists associated with the Renaissance era are Raphael, Michelangelo and da Vinci.

The Baroque Era began around the 16th century in Rome. It was a time of exploration, increased trade and further discovery of the sciences. It was also a time of frequent battles throughout Europe as a result of the religious struggle. (DeWitte, Larmann, & Shields, 2012). The Reformation movement had challenged the Catholic Church’s influence on society and religion and the Church was reasserting itself by constructing elaborate buildings and commissioning new art. (DeWitte, Larmann, & Shields, 2012). Religious themes, bright colors and dramatic subjects define Baroque art. Paintings had extravagant and ornamental settings. Common themes were grandiose visions, ecstasies and conversions, martyrdom and death, intense light, intense psychological moments. (McKay, Brett & Kate, 2010) Artist of this era include Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Peter Paul Rubens.

The Renaissance and Baroque share similarities in their existence. Both forms were developed as a response to the prior era. Teachers and philosophers who questioned theology dictation as a way of life developed the Renaissance period. They thought that man could have an individual relationship with God without the Church acting as the conduit. They also thought that man and his accomplishments should be celebrated. In their mind, God had in fact created the world, but man could be a creator as well. They challenged common beliefs about the solar system and integrated math and science into education. The Baroque period came about as the Church attempted to reassert itself into both art and the society that had been altered by the Renaissance era. Reformers such as Martin Luther and Charles Calvin had embarrassed the Church by exposing hypocrisy and unethical behavior among its leadership.

To combat this religious setback, large churches and religious buildings were erected and art was commissioned for them. But this religious art was different than the art of the Middle Ages. Renaissance techniques were added to give perspective and dimension to the paintings along with bright colors and dramatic themes. But the eras are dissimilar as well. Styles were dramatically different in appearance. Renaissance painters strived for realism and had removed the drama and emotion leaving their paintings still and lifeless. Baroque was the opposite and in comparison, some thought Baroque art was curious and strange (which is roughly what the word means in French). (DeWitte, Larmann, & Shields, 2012). The Catholic Church needed a visual language to reemphasis the faith. Baroque art deviated from Renaissance with dramatic and lifelike scenes. There was a realism and immediacy to the viewer. Colors and textures were vivid and dramatic.

Two pieces of art that show both similarities and differences of the eras are The Mond Crucifixion by Raphael and Crucifixion by Anthony Van Dyck.
Both works show the same subject of the crucifixion of Christ but Van Dyck’s painting is much more dramatic showing pain, suffering and dramatic colors. The piece by the Renaissance artist Raphael is expressionless and flat. This is also evident in the comparison between the Baroque period painting, Madonna and Child with Saints by Sebastiano Ricci and the Madonna del Granduca by Raphael. Again, same subject but dramatically different presentations with color and emotion.

Historically, the Renaissance is stilled looked on as an influential period. Inventions from that era such as the printing press, the button and eyeglasses are celebrated today. Philosophies and ethics formulated by Socrates and Aristotle are evident in business and studied in school curriculum. The accomplishments of that era are still researched and Renaissance art and culture is romanticized at fairs and meetings. The Baroque period is less celebrated and is generally known for music and art styles. The term “Baroque” may still be used in a pejorative manner to describe art that is excessively ornamented and elaborate.

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