Baroque Art

Beginning around the year 1600, the demands for new art resulted in what is now known as the Baroque Period. Baroque painters, sculptors, and architects sought to portray emotion, variety, and movement in their works by appealing to the senses. Other qualities include drama, grandeur, richness, vitality, movement, tension, exuberance, and a tendency to blur distinction between the various arts. Baroque Style was typified by strong contrasts in value and bold ornamentation that added action and drama to the art.

The roots of baroque styles are found in the art of Italy, and especially in that of Rome in the late 16th century. A desire for greater clarity and simplification inspired a number of artists in their reaction against the anticlassical Mannerist style, with its subjective emphasis on distortion, asymmetry, bizarre juxtapositions, and biting colors. Annibale Carracci and Michelangelo Merisi, called, were the two artists in the forefront of the early baroque.

Caravaggio's art is influenced by naturalism and the grand humanism of Michelangelo and the High Renaissance. His paintings often include types drawn from everyday life engaged in completely believable activities, as well as heroic and tender depictions of religious and mythological subjects. Caravaggio was commissioned, at age 24, to paint for the church of San Luigi dei Francesi. In its Chapel Caravaggio's realistic naturalism first fully appeared in three scenes he created of the life of St. Matthew.