Baroque Art: Protestant vs. Catholic

1058 words 5 pages
Baroque: Protestant vs. Catholic
Before the purity of Neoclassicism, even before the carefree artists of the Rococo era, there was the dramatic and emotive Baroque. The term "baroque" is said to have been derived from the Portuguese word for an irregular pearl, and is certainly an adequate description. In the wake of what has become known as the Protest Reformation, the Catholic Church held the infamous Council of Trent. This eighteen year deliberation addressed several aspects of Catholicism under scrutiny and led to the requirements that new art depicting religious notions should reach the illiterate masses. Up until this point most religious forms of art were designated for the highly educated and sophisticated. This led to the
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The intensely gloomy color schemes used depicting a dark or black background, contrasted by a luminescent accentuation of particularly pious figures was customary of Baroque era paintings.

Another prominent Catholic Baroque artist was Artemesia Gentileschi, who also depicted many scenes from the bible. Most of theses paintings contained a centrally feminine theme or character identity. One of the more well-known scenes that she depicted was the beheading of Holofemes in the book of Judith. Gentileschi painted several versions of this story, portraying Judith as empowered boldly severing the head, as well as a timid Judith unsure and uneasy. One of these paintings titled Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes (fig 2) is a famous rendering of the moments just after the murder when Judith and her Maidservant are fleeing. The women are urgently leaving the tent which is evident by their postures and special dramatic flare is added by the hand blocking the light and casting a shadow on the face of Judith. The color contrasts and luminescence of focal points is characteristic of the Catholic Baroque style as is the portrayal of biblical stories.

The Baroque styles of Protestant Northern Europe and predominantly Italian Catholic artists are stylistically similar. Since the techniques originated in Italy this comes as no surprise. The most notable