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Baroque and Renaissance Art

There is a clear distinction between Baroque and Renaissance art. The origins of Baroque art can be traced back to Rome. The popularity of Baroque art stems from its ability to evoke strong emotions while simultaneously being complex and contradictory. Renaissance painting was influenced by nature, ancient wisdom, and man’s personality. Unlike the ornate ornamentation of Baroque art, Renaissance art mixes science and Christianity to create a more accurate portrayal of the world (Lingo 33). Baroque art was made between the late 16th and mid-18th centuries. It’s worth mentioning that the English word “Baroque” comes from the Portuguese word “Barocco”. Baroque art began to emerge after the Renaissance. It can be said to have started after the 16th century. This has transpired for the advantage of the Catholic Church. Baroque architecture favoured domed structures, colonnades, and other aesthetic aspects. In Renaissance painting, the concept of perception was given more weight than it had previously had in other periods of art history. Due to political reforms, religion changed in the renaissance mainly due to the Reformation and created new themes like eternal salvation in heaven.

Renaissance art

Saint Mark (1411–1413)

Donatello’s seven-and-a-half-foot-tall marble sculpture of Saint Mark (1411–1413) can be found in Florence’s Orsanmichele church museum. A replica now stands in the outer niche of the church where the original once stood (Longsworth 77). In this example, Mark stands on a cushion, which is typically a symbol of holiness; yet, it also emphasizes his weight and gives the idea that the actual world around him responds to his body. Donatello completed his Saint Mark as a starting point for the exterior niches at Orsanmichele. It was commissioned by the linen weavers’ guild in England and constructed between 1411 and 1413. St. Mark founded the Church of Alexandria. The Church was a significant part of daily life during this period (1411). The Church was turned to for spiritual advice, but it was also seen as a government. Spiritual guidance affected the production of the Saint Mark sculpture, which symbolizes holiness at the period. The scriptures call all Christians to a life of holiness. The term “holy living” refers to a Christian’s life devoted to God’s glory. The hallmarks of this lifestyle include discipline, focus, and attention to good living.

Michelangelo’s Statue of David

Michelangelo’s marble sculpture of David was constructed in the middle of the Italian Renaissance between 1501 and 1504. The statue was commissioned for the buttress of Florence’s cathedral and was carved from a marble block previously partially blocked out by numerous sculptors. Michelangelo’s David, a colossal marble statue depicting the Biblical story of David and Goliath, has recently become a symbol of the Renaissance (Della Monica et al. 201). During this period, the church had accumulated enormous influence by taking advantage of the common public’s ignorance and superstition. People had been taught that the church was the only road to heaven. The 1500s began to see the world more sympathetically, unlike in the 1400s when the focus was entirely on holiness. In the year 1500, people started to believe in God, which had a huge impact on religion. Regrettably, people began to emphasise this world more than the afterlife. Humanism eventually instilled scepticism in its followers. The slave trade began in Africa due to a labour shortage in Europe during the Renaissance.

Baroque Art

The Rape of Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

In 1621-1622, Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini created The Rape of Proserpina, a large Baroque marble sculpture group. In this representation of Pluto’s abduction of Proserpina, she is kidnapped and carried to the underworld. The facial expressions of the sculpture’s characters reveal their characteristics and feelings (Strunck 185). In the seventeenth century, religion had a far more substantial impact than today. It was a necessary part of daily existence. Furthermore, religious differences were not tolerated. By law, everyone had to be a member of the Church of England. Confession and communion were two of the most popular themes during this historical period. Each day ended with confessions and communions. Thousands of conversions were undertaken in the West, but the overall outcomes were unremarkable. At the same period, there was political and social upheaval. Years of conflict, horror, and slaughter, as well as the execution of Charles I and the founding of a republic, characterized the century’s transition from a time in which the Crown tightly controlled the state. European rulers strengthened their military and financial power throughout the 15th and 16th centuries. That’s how powerful they’ve become. These events had a significant impact on Europe. Later, the Roman Catholic Church founded Missions in the Americas and other colonies to spread Christianity in the New World and convert indigenous peoples.

Stefano Maderno’s sculpture of St. Cecilia (1599)

Stefano Maderno’s St. Cecilia, a Baroque sculpture in Rome’s Santa Cecilia Church in Trastevere, is displayed. A second-century Roman martyr named St. Cecilia was discovered incorrupt beneath the church’s altar in 1600, and the inspiration for this sculpture was born. Cardinal Paolo Emilio Sfrondrato ordered a church renovation and a new tomb when the body was discovered. During this period the Roman Catholic Church created a slew of missions throughout colonies to spread Christianity and convert native populations (Whitford 76). Christians believe that they have a moral obligation to act ethically. Assisting those in need is part of this. Food banks, which are places where people in need can go to acquire food, can play an essential role in motivating Christians to help others. An autocracy dominated the Roman Empire, which meant that just one person led the government. The emperor was the name given to this person in Rome. Slave uprisings, questions of citizenship for allies, a land allocation that caused the poor to move to the city and starve, and corrupt publicani taxation were all common at the time of the revolts. The church’s focus switched from confession to obedience due to these changes.

Apollo and Daphne

A life-size statue of Apollo and Daphne by Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini can be found in Rome’s Borghese Gallery. As represented in Greek and Roman mythology, their love is doomed to be unrequited. The fable was told by Ovid, a Roman poet from the first century AD, in his work Metamorphoses. During the Renaissance, the printing press helped bring old literature out of the shadows (Warwick 353). Theological and political developments in Italy during the 16th and 17th centuries influenced the creation of Baroque art. Following the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church began its Counter-Reformation to reclaim its power and acquire new believers. Bernini’s sculptures are easily recognized because of their theatricality, gripping drama, dynamic tension, texture and realism. The story of Apollo and Daphne might be absorbed in a matter of seconds by viewing the sculpture from this viewpoint, without the need to shift positions. As a result, church officials (in this case, Cardinal Borghese) began commissioning works of art that were both physically and emotionally appealing. Apollo and Daphne’s marble sculpture captivate the observer with their dynamic representation of human shapes.


The style of art produced during the Baroque and Renaissance periods was extremely diverse. The phrase “Baroque art” refers to a style of painting that originated in Rome during the Renaissance. Baroque art’s popularity has been linked to its complex and paradoxical nature, as well as its ability to generate an emotional response. In Renaissance painting, nature, classical learning, and the individuality of the individual all came together. While rich ornamentation define Baroque art, Renaissance art mixes Christianity and science to create reality in the form of art. The main difference between the two types is this. From the end of the 16th century to the middle of the 18th century, Baroque art flourished. Renaissance art was created in Europe from the 14th through the 17th centuries. Baroque painting is distinguished by ornate flourishes and a focus on human emotions.

Work Cited

Della Monica, Matteo, et al. “Michelangelo’s David: triumph of perfection or perfect combination of variation and disproportions? A human perspective.” Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology 124.2 (2019): 201-211.

Lingo, Estelle. “Sculpture, Rupture, and the “Baroque”.” Art and Reform in the Late Renaissance. Routledge, 2018. 33-46.

Longsworth, Ellen L. “Michelangelo and the Eye of the Beholder: The Early Bologna Sculptures.” Artibus et Historiae (2002): 77-82.

Strunck, Christina. “The poisoned present. A new reading of Gianlorenzo Bernini’s Rape of Proserpina.” (2014): 185-201.

Whitford, Kelly Anne. Present in the performance: Stefano Maderno’s “Santa Cecilia” and the frame of the Jubilee of 1600. Diss. University of Oregon, 2011.

Warwick, Genevieve. “Speaking Statues: Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne at the Villa Borghese.” Art History 27.3 (2004): 353-381.


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