Renaissance and baroque comparison Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 12 August 2016

Renaissance and baroque comparison

There are two eras in the history of Western Art that had many achievements from art to music and literature. The period following the middle ages called the Renaissance was a cultural movement that began from the late 13th century to the 17th century. The arts, music and literature that came out of this period helped in developing the Baroque period which coincided with the 17th century. These two historical periods had many similarities, yet also differences in which made the historical periods very unique.

The Renaissance period had many characteristics that were not common with any other historical period in history. Italian scholars and artists started re-examining the use of art and sculptures and were reawakened by the ideals of Roman and Greek times (Renaissance Art, 2013). The Renaissance art was distinctive in its style of paintings and sculptures. New techniques were developed such as introduction of oil paintings, linear perspective, aerial perspective, and chiaroscuro (The Renaissance, 2013). There were many great artists of this period, but three great masters were Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael who dominated the period known as High Renaissance (Renaissance Art, 2013).

Leonardo’s best known works include the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Michelangelo was known for his many sculptures and paintings which included the decoration of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican (Renaissance, 2013). Raphael, who learned and was influenced by both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, painted most notably The School of Athens which expressed classical ideals of beauty. The Catholic Church was a huge influence with the Renaissance art period as many arts had depicted religious images, such as the Virgin Mary (Renaissance Art, 2013).

The Baroque period began around the 17th century in Rome. It was a period of new discoveries of science, exploration, and broader art diversity. During the Reformation movement, the Roman Catholic Church believed that art was to serve as a means of extending the public’s faith in the church. The Baroque style that evolved from this movement was to convey an impression of sensual and spiritual, yet naturalistic to the religious images and paintings.

Carracci and Caravaggio, two Italian painters whose styles of paintings arouse into Rome, started the decoration and the monumental painted ceilings of many churches. This started many artists of that time to use vivid colors and luxurious materials to evoke sensual delight (Baroque Period, n.d.). In Baroque paintings, the focus was on the dramatic style and use of contrasting light and shadow for deep colors. In all the visual arts, there was a distinctive use on harmony and unity often using religious themes and stories (Baroque Art, 2013).

There are similarities and differences in both the Renaissance and Baroque periods and are both unique in different respects. The Baroque period is said to have been generated at the end of the Renaissance era, which progressed to a dramatic and sophisticated form of art. The techniques of the Baroque art period united the techniques and advances used from the Renaissance along with the emotion, intensity and drama of the High Renaissance. The Baroque period continued from the Renaissance with the use of light and color, the focus on realism, strong perspective effects, and religious themes (Baroque period, n.d.).

Two pieces of art that show similarities and differences of the Renaissance and Baroque periods are The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci and The Straw Hat by Peter Paul Rubens. Both paintings illustrate a young lady in almost identical poses with a slight grin on their face. The backgrounds of both paintings are mysterious and foggy. The background of the Mona Lisa is different from that of The Straw Hat due to Leonardo da Vinci’s precise details. His use of colors, dramatics, and intensity in the painting is illustrated from that of the Renaissance Era (Da Vinci, 1504). In The Straw Hat, Rubens uses no distinct background, and just focuses on the main subject. The color schemes are differentiated from the deep, dark colors of the Mona Lisa to the bold, daring color tones of The Straw Hat from the Baroque area that makes the image stand out (Rubens, 1625).

The Renaissance and Baroque periods were both influential in generating the greatest masterpieces that the art world has seen. The bold, dramatic use of colors, shadows, and lighting are used in the same way as many art pieces today. You don’t even have to have an art major to know the pieces depicted in both eras. Both historical periods in history had influences that made art the unique and spectacular wonder that it is today.


Baroque art. (2013). In _Baroque art and the Rococo style_ (Sec. 3.16). Retrieved from

Baroque period. (n.d.). In _Encyclopedia Britannica online_. Retrieved from

Da Vinci, L. (1504). _Mona Lisa_ [Painting]. Retrieved from

Renaissance. (2013). In S. B. Landau (Ed.), _Scholastic Art_. Retrieved from

Renaissance Art. (2013). In _The History Channel website_. Retrieved from

Rubens, P. P. (1625). _The Straw Hat_ [Painting]. Retrieved from

The Renaissance. (2013). In _The Renaissance, Reformation Art, and Mannerism_ (Sec. 3.14). Retrieved from

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