Portraiture in Renaissance and Baroque Europe

1 January 2018

During the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, Renaissance and Baroque art were among the most famous art styles. While there are quite a lot of differences between the two art movements, they share a few similarities. While Renaissance art focuses on projecting a calming mood and a sense of realism, Baroque art explodes with emotion, energy, and movement. However, while the style and philosophy of the movements vary immensely, they still encompass many of the same art techniques that we practice today.

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that began in Italy, later spreading to other countries in Europe. Flourishing economies and growing wealth during the fourteenth century allowed for intellectual transformation and a newfound fascination with learning and values. The Renaissance witnessed improvements in technology, the discovery of new continents, and new styles of literature, music, and especially art. Renaissance art, in particular, had many distinguishing features. Artists during this period were among the first to consider perspective in their works. Their choice allowed their artworks to seem real, like seeing things in 3D. However, the artists’ focus on depth led to ignorance of other details, such as emotions. Many of their artworks looked still as if the subjects in the painting were real-life statues instead of real-life human beings. Another key component of the Renaissance period is the use of linear perspective. Linear perspective incorporates a sense of focus on the central point of the piece The component helps to draw the viewer’s eye to this focal point.

The Baroque period began in the 1600s in Italy, where it spread throughout Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It was a period of new scientific discoveries, exploration, and more art diversities. Baroque art was greatly supported by the Church, mainly because Baroque art depicted many religious themes and communicated direct opinions in response to the Protestant Reformation. Baroque art was recognized differently in various European countries due to their different political and cultural conditions. Baroque artists solved the stillness seen in Renaissance art by focusing on the drama and movement happening in the artwork. Artists worked to create intense light and shadow around the subject to exaggerate movement, called chiaroscuro. The use of the chiaroscuro technique is a well-known trait of Baroque art. This technique is often used in paintings of dimly lit scenes to produce a very high-contrast, yet dramatic atmosphere.
The art styles of the Renaissance and Baroque are also very similar.

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