The European Renaissance was a time of cultural transition in Europe from a society rooted in religious focus and compliance to humanism and artistic expression. Although the majority of Europe remained loyal to the Papacy and Catholicism, the Renaissance brought about scholars that encouraged human artistic expression and self-fulfillment. Prior to the Renaissance, devout Catholics led simple lifestyles, with few amenities or luxuries. They believed worldly pleasures were offensive to God. Renaissance Humanists did not believe this to be true. They encouraged the enjoyment of music and other forms of art, well prepared foods, and the pursuit of a more secular lifestyle (Fiero, 2011).
The Age of Baroque, meaning irregular shaped pearl, which took place from 1550 to 1750, was an era filled with much scientific and technological exploration and discovery, as well as a reformation of the Catholic Church (Fiero, 2011). The advent of Protestantism brought about a great deal of religious turmoil throughout Europe, which led to The Catholic Reformation. Throughout history, religion influenced the arts, architecture, and philosophy, but The Age of Baroque brought about more human creativity filled with grandiosity and elaborate design.
Cultural Anthropologists have made many extraordinary discoveries throughout history. Many of these discoveries are emblematic of the contents that might comprise time capsules from various periods of recorded human history. Although various forms of art, philosophy, and literature were produced during each era, there are distinct differences between the ordinary and those that represent or capture the essence of each respective period. With regard to the arts, philosophy, and literature, The Renaissance and The Age of Baroque share similarities, but also exemplify the effects of humanism and how The Humanities influenced change from one period to the next.
Art and architecture. As Italy was the birthplace of the Renaissance, Italian art seems an appropriate choice for Renaissance art to be placed in a time capsule, but Jan van Eyck’s painting “The Virgin of Chancellor Rolin” stands out among Renaissance paintings. The columns in the painting reflect classical influence, while the scenery beyond the columns is indicative of linear perspective painting. It also captures the artist’s reverence for religion without disregarding Chancellor Rolin’s status. Van Eyck also uses detail in the piece to enhance the portrait’s aesthetics. Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Embryo in the Womb” reflects the joining of artistic expression with scientific depiction, which became increasingly relevant during the Renaissance. Music also changed significantly during the Renaissance. It became more secular and geared toward human enjoyment, rather than religion. A very popular type of vernacular song during the sixteenth century was the Madrigal, which was a type of song suited for three to six voices. “Matona mia cara” (“My lady, my beloved”) was a very popular among Madrigals (www.allmusic.com, 2013).
Flemish composer, Ronald de Lassus, composed this song at the age of 18, and went on to compose more than 2000 songs, 200 of which were madrigals. Architecture of the Renaissance was nothing short of remarkable. The architects of the era, with their limited resources and capabilities found ways to produce miraculous structures that are difficult to fathom even by today’s standards. Such a design is the dome atop St. Peter’s Basilica, the design of which was initially contrived by Michelangelo Buonaratti. Although he died before the completion of the Church, he is credited with the design. The discovery of such a design in a time capsule would likely be venerated and studied with amazement. Philosophy. Among Renaissance philosophers Francis Bacon, an English philosopher, is one of the most famous of his time. His works as a philosopher in the field of scientific methodology was instrumental during the transition from The Renaissance to the early modern era (Plato.stanford.edu, 2012).
To have deprived the world of Bacon’s writings on his “Theory of Idols and the System of Sciences” (Plato.stanford.edu, 2012) may have left a crucial piece of philosophical fabric from his era, and upon which to continue to build, but it certainly would have been fascinating to compare his writings to similar works upon discovery. Literature. Literature and the distribution of literature made enormous stride and advancements during the Renaissance, due in large part to the invention of the printing press. Many of the great literary works leading up to the Renaissance were very limited in distribution and availability, as they were mostly written by hand and rarely widely distributed or made available to commoners. The printing press made an immediate impact on the availability of literature. One of the most influential of writers of the Renaissance was Niccolo′ Machiavelli. His work, “The Prince” advocated the necessity of strong rule and the selective exemption of morality for the greater good as justification for perceived evils or transgressions. The Age of Baroque
Art and architecture. The Age of Baroque was filled with many incredibly talented artists. Among them was an artist by the name Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, not to be confused with Michelangelo Bounarroti, who is famous for painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Caravaggio was one of Italy’s most active and distinguished painters of the early seventeenth century. One of his most notable works was “The Crucifixion of Saint Peter”. It is a remarkably detailed piece that captures the strength and vulnerability of Saint Peter (Fiero, 2011). Artemisia Gentileschi was a female follower of Caravaggio, and an extremely talented painter. Although, as a woman, she was not permitted to use nude male models, she did not allow her artistic prowess to be suppressed. An example of her work is “Judith Slaying Holofernes”. It is incredibly graphic and powerful, as it illustrates the beheading of an Assyrian General by a widow (Fiero, 2011). This would be a welcome addition to a time capsule, and would likely draw many interpretations. The Age of Baroque brought about the birth of opera, which is a style of entertainment, much like many other forms of art, that originated from Italy. It combined music with theatrical performance to fulfill multiple entertainment appetites simultaneously.
“Orfeo”, which was composed by Monteverdi in 1607 was one of the first operas ever composed, and would serve as a fitting representation of music from the Age of Baroque. Architecture was also very prominent and influential during the Age of Baroque. The Palace of Versailles, at the time of its construction, possibly the largest residence in the world, is a marvel of architecture. The detail and magnitude of The Palace of Versailles is nearly unimaginable. This is yet another great work of the Age of Baroque that would likely influence architecture of any age. Literature and philosophy. Baroque philosophy seemed to be inseparable from Baroque literature. As European society continued to advance, and benefit from the printing press, philosophers wrote with more creativity and metaphors, as if to combine the two arts.
Axioms and allegory became a staple of Baroque writing (www.newworldencyclopedia.org, 2013), which seemed to provide perspective for the reader, as well as thought provoking reflection; often with no right or wrong interpretation, but rather an open-ended finish, to be concluded by the audience. Although the works of William Shakespeare are not regarded as great philosophical works, he is arguably the greatest writer, not only of the Age of Baroque, but of all time. He was a creative genius that wrote with a great deal of philosophical meaning. Any of his works would be an priceless addition to any time capsule. Conclusion
The Renaissance and The Age of Baroque are extraordinarily influential time periods in the history of not only the west, but the world. The advancement of human intelligence and technology is absolutely astounding. The two periods works of art and creative expression continue to shape the modern world and serve as the standard for The Humanities. To fill a speculative time capsule seems almost impossible, as the options for the selection of creative genius are too numerous to count.
Fiero, G. K. (2011). The Humanistic Tradition (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill. Plato.stanford.edu. (2012, December). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/francis-bacon/ www.allmusic.com. (2013, May). Orlande de Lassus. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/composition/matona-mia-cara-villanelle-for-4-voices-s-x-93-mc0002361487 www.newworldencyclopedia.org. (2013, May). New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Baroque_period