On Baroque The Baroque is a style of art that embraces both formal and theatrical themes. It is a style that attempts to capture strong emotions from the viewer. Whether it is the striking contrast of light and dark, the strong diagonals used, or the story being told, Baroque has a way with the viewer where every emotion is heightened and pulled to the fullest. However, although the concept of Baroque pieces are generally similar, in Holland and Italy there are striking dissimilarities due to economical, political, and religious differences. In Holland during the seventeenth century, there was no monarchy or aristocracy.
The middle class was started to become very prevalent and started to want pictures and paintings. But it wasnt just the middle class; it was everyoneeveryone right down to lower class social levels. It was almost a way of showing your status, and your ability to buy extraordinary pieces, and your ability to choose. Dutch painters during this time generally focused on images of everyday life. There were no longer paintings of the biblical divinities of life, and there were no longer paintings of mythological creatures. Everyday living and everyday people were now the focus, and these were the paintings that were admired.
In seventeenth century Italy, Baroque artists tended to see their work like scientists saw things. The vision of man began to spread outside of the World to larger spaces. The three most prevalent trends in paintings included classicism, where artists followed the hands of Michelangelo, Tission, Rapheal, and all the great artists of the Renaissance; Naturalism, where artists based their pieces on observations of nature and real life; and the last one, where exuberance, drama, and brilliance was emphasized. A good example of a Classicist during this period is Annibale Carraci. Carraci often used mythical and biblical subject matter. But he did not use imitate Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian.
He took their influences and emulated them into his own style of idealized nature. However, he also was known well for his landscapes with figures. He painted the land as if you are looking into itnot a birdseye view. Nature is domesticated and non-threatening. This view of nature is best demonstrated in the piece, Landscape with the Flight into Egypt.
In this piece the view is not one where viewers are just viewing it, it is a view where viewers feel as if they are a part of the story and a part of time. Viewers also get a sense of realness. Everything in the painting seems as if it still exists and looks exactly the way Carraci has painted it. During the Baroque period, religious divisions of Western Europe began to effect everything during that time. Italy along with other provinces remained Roman Catholic and Holland and its area was entirely Protestant. And along with this came the success absolutism almost everywhere and republics were almost in altogether expired.
Nevertheless, Holland was an exception to this termination of republic commonwealth. With this religious and worldly absolutism that existed in Italy was used as a very powerful implement for artists during the seventeenth century. The dramatic and powerful nature of each piece was the main focus and rule. Emotion was heightened to its fullest and everything, including churches, were made to impress all who viewed it. It was truly an emotional theater of elevated sensitivity to ones surroundings. Divine miracles were no longer produced by devout saints but by actual beings of the earth.
Gianlorenzo Berninis David is a great example of religious figures that began to develop earthly reflections. The way Bernini captured the exact moment where David is getting ready to kill Goliath makes the viewers feel as if they know him. Viewers get a sense of the anxiety and power of David. We feel his intense concentration on the task at hand. The image of David is brought down to earth.
He is no longer idealized like Donatellos and Michelangelos David, he is real man with an unwavering duty. The power and drama of this piece is immediately felt and known. While the dramatic nature of art in the Catholic monarchies flourished in Italy, Protestant artists who lived in Holland were open to the needs of the middle-class buyers of their art. Pieces that were once restricted to churches were now being placed in regular homes. It was entirely open market and Holland artists soaked it up.
The people of Holland wanted to see paintings of daily life. There was no longer a high respect for paintings of the ecstasies of saints or the royal power. However, when the subject matter of biblical, royal, or mythological, they were placed in a scene where it seemed they were also living in everyday life. Jan Vermeers Kitchen Maid is a great example of pieces from Holland in the seventeenth century. The figure represents the Dutch character. The simple, down-to-earth reflection of this woman in the midst of a simple act like pouring milk into a bowl makes her somehow seem elegant and beautiful. Vermeer used camera obscura to emphasize the image and let the object and color appear much more dense.
He also has a way of using shadows and intense saturation of color to give a sense of reality. The stillness of the painting as a whole is very calming and still, and remains one of the great masterpieces of our time. Although the differences between seventeenth century Baroque art in Italy and Holland greatly differ, each piece during this time is excruciatingly incredible and deliberate. The great artists of this time will forever be a part of our history and memories.