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Peter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640) Flemish, Baroque

Daniel in the Lion's Den c. 1615
 

 
Explanation of the Baroque Style
 
1580-1770

Baroque painters were some of the most interesting personalities in the history of art. The Baroque style is distinguished by theatrical use of color and well-proportioned compositions. The movement started in Italy, quickly spreading to the rest of Europe. This dramatic style flourished in Europe between 1580 and 1770, mainly in Catholic countries, where it played a essential role in the crusading work of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. The Roman Catholic Church's reaction to the Reformation, known as the Counter-Reformation, reaffirmed the one-time medieval notion of art as the servant of the church, adding certain demands for simplicity, precision, realism, and an emotional stimulus to piety. For the fanatics of the Counter-Reformation, a paintings was useful only as propaganda material, the religious subject matter being all-important.

To inspire its viewers, the Baroque style used elaborate effects to stir up religious passions. In some of its most characteristic works such as Caravaggio's The sacrifice of Isaac (1601-1602) painting, sculpture, decoration, and architecture were designed to create a single, powerful effect. Many masterpieces of the Baroque appeared in churches and palaces in Rome, but the style soon extended throughout Europe, shifting in style as it did so.
 

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