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Renaissance and the Age of Baroque

The Renaissance period refers to the period between the 1300 and 1700, that is, the period between the 14th and 17th century. It is the gap between the middle Ages and the Modern history. This began in the Late Medieval time in Italy as a cultural movement before moving to the other parts of Europe. Some of the changes that took place during this time are for example the making of concrete and change in the forms of painting.

The Age of Baroque began around the 1600 in the city of Rome in Italy before moving to the other parts of Europe. It refers to a time when artists used clear and exaggerated motion to create drama, in paintings, in the drawing and making of architecture, sculpture and even music and dances. It was a very famous period especially since the Catholic Church mainly promoted it. The Catholic Church decided on this as a way of responding to the reforming of Protestants. They also thought they could use the Baroque paintings and art to express various Christian themes. The Catholic Church also used this period’s art to please their visitors.

Generally, the Age of Renaissance and Baroque (between the 1300 and 1600) is a period when there were many troubles: wars, plagues and crises. Because of these, people sought a new beginning, a rebirth and resulted into various changes in techniques of doing things. These changes included the creation and composition of music, the various forms of art and painting, the descriptions of drawings and architecture, the level of thinking and philosophy of the time and literature.


In Italy, there were new cultural movements that helped inspire artists of the time. People believed that God had created the earth and that they could help in sharing the glory themselves by also becoming creators themselves. Though the art before this period was stylish and decorative, it was two-dimensional and did not necessarily describe feelings and thought of artists realistically. With the economic growth that followed, more people rather than the nobility and the Catholic Church, needed to purchase art to show their wealth and power. Thus, the artists were flexible and had a wider variety of what they could produce. Some of the characteristics of the art were that it was three dimensional in its perspective. There was also the use of shadows and light. The art depicted emotion and had naturalism realism.

Some of the arts of this period include the great Madonna and a child on a curved throne, (1200). It is the representation of Mary and Jesus in drapery. Jesus is expressed as an infant but also looks like a miniature adult. Another piece of art is the Madonna Del Cardellino in 1506 by Raphael. The portrait of Mary looks more human and is more real. The setting is also very natural. Other Arts during this period include the Tribute Money, by Masaccio in 1425, the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci in 1498, the Creation of Adam by Michelangelo in 1511, David also by Michelangelo in 1504 and School Athens by Raphael in 1510.


Music during the Renaissance period marked the starting of Sacred music being sung and composed outside the church for the first time. Joaquin des Prez and Giovanni da Palestrina are one of the earliest great composers of music of this time. Secular music also flourished during this time and dance and instrumental music was in plenty. One famous composition during this time is the English Madrigal, composed by masters such as John Dowland and William Byrd.

In addition, During the Baroque period, most monarchs as they tried to outdo each other in pride and pageantry got composers to make music for them. One of the most remembered composer of this time is Johann Sebastian Bach. It is also during this time that the genre of opera was first introduced.

Music spread from Italy through intermarriages for example, when the French king Henry II married Catherine De Medici from Italy, she brought with her a set of entertainers who came to be the foundation of classical ballet that later came to be known as the court ballet.


Just like the paintings, architecture during the Baroque period began in Rome, Italy and spread to the other parts of Europe. In Europe, most public halls buildings and buildings of churches were designed using the Baroque style of colored marbles and even twisted columns and facades. Mortar and stones were also crushed and mixed very well that is was very difficult to distinguish where one started or ended. One of the most famous and well-known architects of this time is Giovanni Bernini, (1598 – 1660). He drew the colonnades adjacent to St. Peter Basilica using the Baroque style made up of use of curves and wide spaces.

The architects in Italy during the renaissance period drew their skills from classical roman examples. Fillip Brunelleschi (1377–1446) was also among the first architects who trained as a goldsmith in Florence but changed his interest to architecture. His greatest achievement was building the dome of Florence Cathedral. Leon Battista Alberta (1404–1472) was also another architect in the Baroque period whose greatest accomplishment was the De re Aedificatoria architecture.


Literature also evolved a lot during the Renaissance and Baroque period. With the coming of Puritanism and the Counter Reformation, most writers were drawn to writing on religious matters. John Donne (1573 – 1633) and John Milton (1608 – 1674) are among the epic poets of this time who wrote on religious concerns. One of Milton’s most memorable poems was Lost Paradise, which he wrote in his youth.

In the 1600s, very little of the French literature is remembered. However, Madeleine Scudery (1608 -1701) was also a great novel writer of this time who specialized in writing on heroic adventures. The French Academy also inspired more people into becoming writers. Generally, most of what was written during this time was inclined towards form rather than substance.


During the 15th and 16th century in the age of renaissance and baroque, philosophy also evolved a great deal. This is also the reason why this period is called the Age of Reason. It is marked by the rise of various major philosophers such as the Dutch Erasmus, Desiderius (1466 – 1536), the Italian Machiavelli, Niccolò (1469 – 1527) who was a political philosopher as well as a poet and musician, the English More, Sir Thomas (1478 – 1535) and Bacon, Sir Francis (1561 – 1626).

Philosophically, the renaissance and baroque was a period that marked the moving away from Christianity and scholasticism and gong towards becoming more human. Thus, there was more keen thought on personal issues rather looking at the world as a passage for moving to the Christian after-life. This period marked the beginning of modern philosophy, which is a period when thinkers could critically enquire about various issues affecting people in the world.


Baker, H. (1987). Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance. Chicago Illinois Chicago Press.

Merriman, J. (2004). A History of Modern Europe: From the Renaissance to the Present, 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton.

Palmer, R. R., Colton, Joel, Kramer, Lloyd (2013). A History of Europe in the Modern World 11th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

McKay, John P., Hill, Bennett D., & Buckler, John (2006). A History of Western Society, AP Edition, 8th Ed., Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


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