Good Example Of Changes In Art From The Byzantine Era Through The Baroque Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Art, Religion, Church, Painting, Nature, Artists, Light, Renaissance

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/12

Art changed tremendously from the Byzantine Era (330 A.D. to 1453) to the Baroque Period (1600 to 1800). Byzantine art was generally religious in subject manner, extremely religious, two dimensional and highly stylized. Beginning with the Renaissance in the 1300’s, art went through dramatic changes. Images became more natural, new techniques were developed and subject manner began to change. The Baroque period was the culmination of these changes.
Byzantine art was lacked depth and was highly stylized. Images of the baby Jesus invariable appeared to be shrunken children, not infants. The subjects were rigid in their pose. The subject matter was almost exclusively religious. Most art work was commissioned by the Catholic Church.
The Renaissance had its birth during the 16th century in Italy. Art followed the blossoming of intellectual ideas of this time period. There was a renewed interest among scholars in Ancient Greek and Roman civilization. Scholars rediscovered and study the literature and myths of these civilizations. Humanism became a popular philosophy that would shape the subjects used in art. Scientific thought was gaining attention and momentum. This prompted artists to study human form more closely and represent it more naturally. The Catholic Church was still the predominant patron of the arts but a new middle class was growing rich and powerful. Banking families such
as the Medici of Florence sprang up as the new aristocracy, based on their wealth and power ant not necessarily their birthright. They commissioned works that were not always religious in nature.
There were advances in technique and materials. Artists began to experiment with color, composition and form. The human body was depicted in a natural sense. The most famous example is The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli (Uffizi Gallery). The subject matter was the Roman goddess of love. The painting is light in color, it evokes movement with the breeze from Aura and Zephyr (god and goddess of the wind) blowing Venus’ hair. Her handmaiden, Ora approaches to dress her. Symbolism exists in the violets that are dotted throughout the picture and represent love. The figures are natural and relaxed in their posture. It was commissioned by the patriarch of the Medici family, Lorenzo. To complete the experience, Lorenzo also had the poet, Poloziano write a poem about Venus.
Northern Europe also experienced a Renaissance. Religious reform and a break from the Catholic Church brought a new sense to religious artwork. Protestants sought a closer relationship with God and revered the Scriptures. Secular pieces also gained prominence. Portraits were not always of wealthy patrons, but everyday folk. Landscaped increased in popularity. Symbolism in art took on new meaning. Oil painting was developed and became a popular medium for artists.
A Goldsmith in His Shop by Petrus Christus if the perfect example of art work from the Renaissance in Northern Europe. The painting depicts a goldsmith selling a wedding ring to a betrothed couple. The painting is not religious in its theme. The shop is cluttered with wares and tools of the trade. The composition of the painting is not direct and straight on. The couple stand
behind the goldsmith to the left, the goldsmith is not looking at the viewer, his gaze is directed at the couple. The colors are rich and the detail is vivid. The reflection of light is captured and natural. The details of the subjects, their dress, expression and the objects in the shop are sharp. The wedding ring and the girdle extending over the table are symbols of the couple’s matrimony. (Metropolitan Museum of Art).
The Renaissance both Italian and Northern gave way to the Baroque period of art that came into prominence in the 17th century. Art of this period was dramatic and rich. There was high contrast between light and dark. The preference for secular and natural subjects was gaining momentum with artists all over Europe. Working with oils allowed artists to create rich colors and vivid detail.
The painting that best represents this period is The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt (Museum het Rembrandthuis). The painting was commissioned by the Guild of Surgeons to hang in their board room. The contrast between light at the center where the cadaver is located and the dark background is dramatic. A subtle circle of soft light encompasses the doctor, students and cadaver. The scene exemplifies the concepts of science and humanism. The painting is scientific and secular. The men are caught at a moment almost like a photograph in mid-movement and discussion.
The progression of art was very slow through the Byzantine period. The work created was commissioned by the Catholic Church and religious in nature. It was highly stylized and generally set up with a triangular balance. The Renaissance was a period of the sharing of ideas, breaking out and experimenting with paint. A new respect for classical Greek and Roman culture became an inspiration for art. Over the next two hundred years, artists were commissioned by
private citizens and were able to express their ideas without the restraints of the Catholic Church. The Church was still a powerful patron. Religious paintings of this period still explored the natural beauty of the human body, lighter, brighter colors and experimentation with balance and light. The Baroque Period ushered in a time when artists were refining their craft. The Dutch Golden Age represents the finest in art during this period. Scenes of daily lie, dramatic contrast between light and dark, intense color are elements of this period.


“The Birth of Venus.” The Uffizi Gallery. 5 Mar 2015 Retrieved from:
“The Goldsmith in His Shop.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 5 Mar 2015 Retrieved from:
“The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp.” Museum Het Rembrandthuis. 5 Mar 2015.
Retrieved from:

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