1. Introduction 1.1 Baroque ArtBaroquepainting consists of a range of styles varying from Classical ReligiousGrandeur, Realism and Easel Art maturing during the beginning of 1600 andcontinuing throughout the mid 18th century. Therefore this new movement saw theproliferation of major themes of Baroque painting such as the de-emphasis ofthe figure, a mastery of light and shadow, realism in all things and last butnot least, new subjects like landscapes, still life and self-portraiture.Comparedto Renaissance, Baroque art was mainly characterized by outstanding drama whichin paintings was richer, used deep colours, and used intense light and very darkshadows.
Therefore whilst Renaissance art tended to show the moment before anevent took place, Baroque artists chose the dramatic instant that is the momentwhen the action was taking place. This was intended to evoke passionateemotions to viewers opposed to the alternative calm reason that had been practicedduring the Renaissance.Anotherimportant factor for painting style change was when the Holy Roman Church, inorder to fill its role thus used paintings as religious propaganda. Religiousthemed Baroque art tended to be larger in scale and displayed publicly asmonumental paintings fixed to highly decorated frames and ceilings frescoesaffixed to walls in many palaces and churches. Following the assertions made by the Council of Trent, Baroque paintingnow started to manifest key elements depicting catholic doctrine, eitherdirectly found in biblical scriptures or deriving indirectly from ancient mythologicalallegorical works. This brought a monumentalapproach with painters portraying a stronger sense of movement by the use ofcomplex spirals and spatial compositions with the aid of stronger colouredschemes in order to overwhelm and surprise viewers. New techniques such as Caravaggio’s Chiaroscuro alter termed asTenebrism were developed to enhance the mood of paintings.
Amongst the greatest Baroque period painters onewill find Caravaggio, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Van Honthorst, de laTour and Poussin with Caravaggio being primarily the successor of the HighRenaissance humanist painters. Michelangelo Merisi’s innovative realistic way ofportraying human figures painted directly from daily life and using of dramaticlight contrasts against a dark background stunned his contemporaries, inconsequence starting a new style in the history of painting. This type of Baroquepainting often dramatizes scenes using the chiaroscuro light effects which can beclearly seen in works by Gerrit van Honthorst and Georges de La Tour. Now Baroquearchitecture was designed with the intension of creating spectacle andillusion. The straight lines methodsused in Renaissance were now seen replaced with more complex flowing curves.
Inarchitecture, domes and roofs were now enlarged incorporating complex geometry withpalaces and church interiors carefully constructed to produce spectaculareffects of light and shadow. Inother words Baroque painting therefore can be considered as being that powerfulstyle that was intended to influence people’s emotions thus used to achievedramatic results. 1. PaintingStyles and Types 17thCentury paintings, sculpture and architecture known as Baroque, cannot bedefined as a single style. In Painting therewere at least three different styles of Baroque art and these can be classifiedas follows; 2.1 Religious extravagance Thiswas a triumphant, overstated and almost theatrical style of religious art,commissioned by European courts of the absolute monarchs immediately after theCounter-Reformation.
This type ofBaroque art is well represented by the bold visionary painter such asCaravaggio and by the grandiose images by the Flemish master, Peter PaulRubens. 2.2 Life-like Realism A newmore realistic approach to painting people was developed in this periodtime. This new approach was mastered by Caravaggioand later by his followers.
The human appealof Caravaggio’s figures, especially when depicting religious painting was now doneusing a more realistic approach. Moreover works by other painters such as Velasquezconstituted a new form of movement that characterized the art of the period formedthe new baroque style. 2.
3 Easel Art This 17thcentury style can be described as a genre consisting of still-life paintingthat mainly flourished in the Netherlands. Unlike the large scale Italian paintings,being generic or religious works, Baroque art in protestant Holland was nowbeing represented by a new form of easel art. A form of genre painting purposelycreated for the wealthy middle class families. This new Dutch Realist school of genre painting also led to an improvedrealism in portraiture and landscape paintings, with its composition varyingfrom new forms of still life painting such as landscapes, animal compositions tovanitas works.