The Baroque Style Art Essay
The split of the Church after the Reformation between the Catholics and the Protestants in the 17th century has brought about changes not only in the society but in art as well. The Church began to view art as a means that could help strengthen humans’ faith. As a result, the art of immense influence and strength has emerged. It is called the baroque. This new style of art was essential to support the Church by fully demonstrating lives and sufferings of saints as well as other allegorical scenes to the congregation of Europe. The baroque style merged not only into painting, sculpture, and architecture but also into literature, philosophy, theatre, and music. The essential elements that distinguish the baroque style from the others and are present in the works of the baroque art are grandeur, dynamism, and dramatism. The most remarkable representatives of the baroque art, which clearly demonstrate all its essential characteristics, are Prometheus Bound by Rubens, Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini, and The Calling of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio.
One of the vivid examples of the baroque art is the painting of Rubens Prometheus Bound. Undoubtedly, the painting is a perfect demonstration of the essential elements of the baroque art. First, its grandeur is impressive. The grand figure of Prometheus is central. It is easy to notice that the colors of the eagle, the sky, and the cliffs in the background are darker while the Titan with majestic forms is painted in radiant colors. Second, the painting shows the sense of movement – the fierce struggle between the eagle and Prometheus. Third, the painting expresses dramatism by depicting the culmination point in the fight between the eagle and the Titan. Prometheus resists the bird while it is trying to peck out the Titan’s liver. By using vivid colors, lights, and shadows, Rubens evoked a sense of drama by demonstrating the intensity of feelings and growing tension in every muscle of Prometheus’ body.
Another outstanding work of art in the baroque style is the sculpture Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini, which is located in the church Santa Maria della Vittoria. The sculpture depicts grand figures of the nun Teresa lying on a cloud and the angel with a spear. As it is inherent to the baroque style, the sculpture does not show still figures, but figures in motion. The sculpture demonstrates the moment when the nun feels the relief and sweet pain after the angel descends from the Heavens to thrust his spear into her body. The sculpture shows the dramatic event when the divine and the earthly approach one another. The dramatic effect is intensified by the light shed from a small window in the dome of the church, which illuminates the body of Saint Teresa. On the side walls of the chapel, the members of Coronaro family are depicted, and it seems as if they are observing the action.
The Calling of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio is another prominent work of the baroque style. The painting demonstrates the encounter between two worlds – the world of money and the world of salvation. The use of light shed on Matthew’s face demonstrates the feeling of astonishment when he sees Jesus, who is standing on the right. The painting is realistic and dramatic. Caravaggio’s use of light and shadow depicts the feelings on the faces of people. Dark colors prevail in this painting like in any other of the baroque style. The painting The Calling of Saint Matthew shows the dramatic confrontation between two worlds and the dilemma of making the right decision.
In conclusion, the baroque with its essential features such as grandeur, dynamism, and dramatism remains a distinctive and recognized style of art even in the modern world. Great drama, opulent use of ornaments, rich color, and intense light produce a spectacular effect on the observers.
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