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Baroque and Impressionism Essay

Baroque art refers to the style that would be found in Europe and North and South America during the 17th and 18th century. The Catholic Church heavily influenced their art, as well as the Protestant rising up during this time. There was an emphasis on unity and harmony in all of the visual arts that often had themes from the Bible or stories. There was realism and more attention was paid to physical details in portrait paintings, there was more light contrast, landscapes were more expansive and there was use of more deep, rich colors. In architecture there were structures that expressed humans longing for spirituality and there was extreme presentation and in the grand scale it was reflected theatrically (Mindedge, 2013).

In the Baroque period the art would depict a play, that it was not just a picture but every figure would have meaning, the art was meant to be read just not looked at as decoration. Figures would be drawn with realism, they have depth in the art, and they are almost falling off the page. They used dark shades and lights to show realism in their paintings. This was brought on with the further discovery of how our universe was formed, how we are not the center of the universe and also with that discovery, we discovered that Europe is not the middle of the Earth as well. Each painting had a story, told about us, about real people and there was more realism than before. Sculptures were made to be experienced, they were made not as standing men but men in action, they told a story in each sculpture that was made in this period.

The social conditions that contributed to the Baroque period began with the rebirth of people, the Catholic Church had overcome the Protestant rising. There was new life and new water brought in to Rome and other major cities. We made discoveries that had shown us that the Earth was not the center of the universe like we had previously thought, also the discovery that the Earth was not flat. We had explored across the Atlantic and discovered the Americas as well. This was a time of great growth and triumph, and this was all shown in our paintings, which told their stories, and the sculptures that shared their tales.

Impressionism which would be found in France in the late 19th century, took a fresh bold approach to painting. Impressionism did not paint pictures of the past, or historical figures but instead they painted pictures of their reaction to now. There were pictures of current landscapes, current people and the painting was often done very vividly using lights and colors and were very over simplified, often leaving out many details. Many artists focused on the interactions between sunlight and color and the way that the light would be interpreted by the eye. Storing paint in tubes at this time allowed artists to paint outside the studios, they could take their canvas, put it down in front of a scene and paint it in the natural light and see how it impacted the landscape (Mindedge, 2013).

In the Impressionism era the opera house in France was completed, there was a time that new classes of people came forth and they felt they should be able to enjoy themselves. Paintings were painted at events, they were treating the world as a spectacle, there would be people enjoying themselves, going about their everyday lives and that was depicted in their paintings. It would be open air, mostly simple art, visible brush work and no form that made their work look sloppy. There was much interest in painting outdoors and each artist would put their own vision on the landscape.

The relationship between the Baroque and the Impressionism periods were few, the stylistic similarities between the eras were using lighting to make the paintings come to life, they would paint in a way that it would tell a story, the Baroque period there would be large canvas that would go from one story to the next, and in the Impressionism period artists would paint a party, a gathering and show what it was like, or give the current mood and story behind the event. The differences between the periods is the detail in the art. The Baroque period paid large attention to detail in the art, there was blending and lighting differences and the art was life like. The Impressionism period the art was often like a draft, there would be paint brush marks on the painting still, there would be blotches lines and there would be details missing from the paintings.

Baroque and Impressionism do have similarities with their subject matter. Ordinary objects and people were used as subject matter in the Impressionism time. This was also used in the Baroque period since the painters did not create art just for the upper class, and it was painted for the merchant class as well which led them to use ordinary people and objects in their art.

Impressionism deviated from the Baroque period in details, the Realism period was before the Impressionism period, and it still contained many details from the Baroque period, but with the Impressionism art there were many details and stories that were lost. The pictures didn’t depict life like characters, there was often sloppy work with less than ideal lighting, and the art was also made outdoors, often with the painters taking the canvas to their location, in the Baroque period you went to your canvas or painted in a workshop because the paint was not portable like in the Impressionism period. Impressionism was the end of conventional art, the Baroque period showed life like sculptures and paintings, Impressionism went away from that. Impressionism gave the artists freedom to break away from the usual art that was photo-esc, they would paint how they wanted, they left brush marks and would give little details compared to the Baroque period.

The specific work of art I chose from the Baroque period is The Abduction of Europa by Rembrandt van Rijn and from the Impressionism period I chose the Houses of Parliament by Claude Monet. The comparisons between the two paintings are their attention to details, The Abduction by Rembrandt van Rijn is a very detailed picture of a lady on a horse that is running into the water, there are people on the shore trying to get her to stay there but she is being abducted across the river. The Houses of Parliament is a picture of a dark castle type building that appears to be on a river or lake, there are clear brush marks on the picture and it is not very detailed, the strokes are very rough unlike in The Abduction of Europa where it is a very fine line, it is almost hard to tell what you are looking at because of this.

Impressionism changed how the world saw art, artists were no longer constrained to painting indoors, and they could move their canvas to any scene that they wanted to paint, carry their paint tubes and then paint. Artists were liberated from what art was, there were no rules or technique that they had to follow, and they were free to paint how they wanted and what they wanted. There are brighter color used in art now which is a direct influence from Impressionism times, and it is widely considered that Impressionism is the root of all modern art (Alan Oz, 2012).

Alan Oz (2012)
Retrieved from http://www.impressionism.org/finis.htm
Mindedge (2013) Baroque and Impressionism. Retrieved from http://wgu.mindedgeonline.com/content.php?cid=19779

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