The Art of Baroque Period

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Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teresa
Bernini was a prominent sculptor in Rome. He worked on the sculpture of the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa between the years 1647 and 1652. Bernini created the chapel as a theater of his sculpture. The statue is set to a position above and behind the altar. A pair of marble columns flanks the carving. The artwork is illuminated theatrically by beams of natural light by a concealed window directly above the sculpture. It’s the natural light that blends with and reflects off a cluster of vertical gold-plated bronze shafts behind the sculpture, that resembles the rays of the sun. The heavy drapery and rifled Teresa’s clothing depicts movement effects.
Caravaggio’s Crucifixion of St. Peter

Caravaggio was a young artist who painted the Crucifixion of St. Peter image. The image was an unusual request by the Church of Rome. He used a dramatic light that gave the picture a unique attraction. The light washes across the skin and cloth giving the two bodies a real, toned shapeliness, which is a type of theatrical elegance (Vernon, 2015, p. 24). Everyone in the image seems to move in a slightly different direction. For instance, Peter is continually turning sideways to have a better view of his humiliation. The man on the rope seems to stagger his back. Moreover, the man strains to get the cross upright. Another man has put on wrinkles on the forehead, which depicts that he is straining to get the cross upright. All these facts illustrate an element of motion in the painting.

History of Baroque Art

The art of Baroque is a complex idiom that originated from Rome between 1590 and 1720. This form of art embraced painting and sculpture. Baroque art reflected the religious tensions of their age. For instance, the art depicted the desire of the Catholic Church in Rome to reassert itself in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Christian pursued the Baroque art with the aim of glorying their divinity (Delbeke, 2016, p. 2). Therefore, the baroque art in religious places like Rome had religious content. However, elsewhere Baroque art had little religious content. However, the artwork served economic and social purposes. For instance, baroque art in Holland primarily served to enhance the developing ambitions of the Merchant and Middle classes.

Italy played a significant role in the development of Baroque art. It is the Italian painting and sculpture that evolved from mannerism to the earliest form of Baroque mode. Artists like Gian Lorenzo Bernini, an Italian artist, played a significant role in revolutionizing baroque art. Bernini successfully used baroque architecture to create spectacular sculptures. For instance, he designed the Saint Cornaro Chapel in an emotional style that exploited theatrical potentials. Also, he successfully developed the square with colonnades to convey the impression to visitors that the arms of Catholic Church embraced them. Caravaggio was a Spanish painter who also played a significant role in developing the baroque art. Just like Bernini, Caravaggio exploited theatrical potentials in his paintings.

The Role of the Church

The early church, through its clergy, played a significant role in promoting the Baroque art. In particular, the support of the Roman Catholic Church was fundamental to the development and spread of the Baroque style. Popes, cardinals, priests, missionaries, worshippers and lay-patrons promoted the spread of the Baroque to all parts of the world. Holy images were standard in most public places and functions. As a matter of facts, Baroque style symbol of power and authority of the Roman Catholics.

The baroque religious art aimed at moving, impressing and pleasing people. The holy objects were function as well as ornamental. For instance, the vast collection of graphic and decorative images focused on complex theological subjects. They helped to nourish spiritual needs, devote and comfort the believers at all stages of their lives. Therefore, the religious activities were most significant in making baroque art accessible in the world.

Faith and Church Commitment of Bernini and Caravaggio

The two artists had different levels of faith and commitment to the church. Bernini is a highly religious person who had a passion for proffering service and duty in the Church. He believed that he had an extraordinary talent from God and used it diligently to promote the religious work. For example, the most powerful expression of the artwork is his work in the Cornaro Chapel. He united sculpture, painting, and architecture to design the spectacular St Peter’s Square (Marmondo & Bernini, 2012, p. 247). He diligently created artwork that helped to satisfy the spiritual needs of the Romans. On the other hand, Caravaggio had a darker look on life. In his early life, he had to overcome horrible challenges that shaped his character. For example, the lost his close relatives through a brutal murder (Rodolfo, 2012, p. 12). His famous artwork of the crucifixion of St. Peter was not from personal motivation. Rather, it was a request by the Catholic Church. Therefore, Caravaggio had little faith and commitment to the church that Bernini.


Delbeke, M. (2016). The Art of Religion: Sforza Pallavicino and Art Theory in Bernini’s Rome. Boston: Routledge.

Marmondo, F., & Bernini, D. (2012). The Life of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. London: Penn State Press.

Rodolfo, P. (2012). Carvagio. Rome: Giunti Editore.

Vernon, H. M. (2015). Baroque Visual Rhetoric. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

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