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Renaissance and Baroque Europe

            To me, it is not that hard to decide what time period in art I find to be the most interesting. Where I enjoy all the styles developed throughout history, the Renaissance and Baroque period in Europe is what excites me the most. A period where we as humans came to discover the vast world in front of us and there was no shortage of that potential spirit being shown through wonderful works of art. A period that dominated for centuries, producing new techniques that are still taught in art classes today. Giving immortality to artists who's work has lived on throughout the ages, catapulting them to fame beyond that of most living celebrities. Just like anything scholars attempt to study, the Renaissance and Baroque period has a rich history and story.

      Humanism, defined as logical thought and the new philosophical, literary, and artistic movement, caused a shift in European attitude from the religious fervor of the middle ages. Leaders in the field did not discourage theology, rather they supported the separation of God and the “here and now” in art. Renaissance was the first era in European history to be named by the intellectuals who lived in/developed it. Literally meaning Rebirth, showing a revival of the ideas developed in Greece and Rome. Baroque is the period that followed the Renaissance and had far more varied styles. However, it is often combined with Renaissance because of the feeling shown in the work. I really enjoy these combined periods because it was sort of the first era since the birth of Christianity that's sole purpose was not to promote the religion. It also was the first truth/beauty in art as well as a sort of freedom of _expression, something we hold dear today.

      Renaissance style is traced back to the fourteenth century. This is around the time that Gothic sculptures began to shift from stylized abstraction toward greater naturalism and individuality, although they painters continued to employ flat symbolic styles. The Renaissance was full force in the beginning of the fifteenth century. Baroque begins in the early seventeenth century, around the time the renaissance period ended. This style continued throughout most f the sixteen and seventeen hundreds in Europe. Italy was the birthplace of these styles. Eventually the style spread north but did not influence highly religious countries in the west such as Spain and Portugal, which it did eventually. Although both periods of art have past, their methods continue to influence art in parts of the world today where individuality as well as modern advances in technology influence the way a culture lives. More scientific approaches for representational accuracy are always being developed in art produced from these cultures.

      The Renaissance techniques aided the growth of science through the period's characteristics in art. Artist studied anatomy and light in depth, applying geometry to the logical construction of implied space through the use of linear perspective. Not always apparent geometry throughout many works serves to a structure to designs. One example of this is the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. The interior is based on a one point linear perspective system, with a single vanishing point in the middle behind Christ's head. Christ is associated with infinity being placed at the greatest implied death. Even a halo is suggested from part of the architecture over the door. One of my personal favorite works from is from the Baroque period, called The Swing. It was painted by Jean Honore Fragonard and is a perfect example of the times it was painted. Light shinning through a gap in the trees of the forest emphasizes the beautiful woman, her clothing being a lighter color also helps. The off balance composition arranged along the diagonal and the light and dark visible in the garden is set off by the ladies shoe flying through the air, about to land in the young mans lap. Art in this time was also calm and balanced. This can be seen in one of the most reproduced paintings of all time, Mona Lisa. The mysterious mood coming from the smile and the strange landscape. The ambiguity is heightened the hazy light quality that gives a feeling of atmosphere around the figure. Applying Glazes to the painting is what helped it achieve its luminous surface.

      Michelangelo Bounarroti, more known for just his first name, is one of the most interesting artists to come from these periods. I find his story amazing given the fact that he learned to use a chisel before he learned to read and write. He was also so famous in his lifetime that two biographies were written about him while he was still alive, something that did not happen in older times. David, the Sistine Chapel, and Pieta are included in his body of work. Michelangelo was commissioned to by the city of Florence at only the age of twenty four to sculpt David. He did this from an eighteen foot block of marble that had been abandoned by another sculptor. Rembrandt Can Rijn, also better known for his first name, is one of the most recognizable artists coming from the Baroque period. One of his best pieces being the Return of the Prodigal Son. Rembrandt was, in modern terms, a huge celebrity in his lifetime. He lived lavishly, like any publicly celebrated figure and had many portraits of himself. He had many pupils while at the top of his fame. Tragedy and death struck the core of his family and it showed in some of his work.. He also went bankrupt at one time but his talent saved him. As he experienced things in life his work became more biblical and with no self pity shown, I find that amazing. 

      When I look at works of art spawning from the renaissance and baroque periods in Europe I am constantly lost in the moment. That is what makes art for me, whether it is a painting or a building. When something captures my imagination and wont let it go, something that I can discover new things in each time, that's when I am truly amazed. That is the feeling I get with almost all of the work from these two periods. Paintings that show true nature of the times they are depicting, instead of always showing the world as a huge church. It can be a painting of a woman working in the kitchen, such as the Kitchen Maid by Jan Vermeer, or the beauty of life in the Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. I love history and I guess what I get is a true sense of it from the works of the renaissance and baroque periods. 



Renaissance and Baroque Europe