1600 - 1700. Baroque Art developed in Europe as an reaction against the intricate and formulaic Mannerism. The Baroque style used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture and painting. Baroque art is less complex, more realistic and more emotionally affecting than Mannerist art. This movement was encouraged by the Catholic Church, the most important patron of the arts at that time, being seen as a return to tradition and spirituality. One of the great periods of art history, Baroque Art was developed by Caravaggio, Gianlorenzo Bernini and Annibale Carracci, among others. This was also the age of Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Vermeer and Velazquez.

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Caravaggio is an Italian painter whose revolutionary technique of tenebrism, or dramatic, selective illumination of form out of deep shadow, became a hallmark of Baroque painting. Scorning the traditional idealized interpretation of religious subjects, he took his models from the streets and painted them realistically. His use of models from the lower classes of society in his early secular works and later religious compositions appealed to the taste for realism, simplicity, and piety in art. Equally important is his introduction of dramatic light-and-dark effects - termed chiaroscuro - into his works. Many Caravaggio's religious works feature violent struggles, grotesque decapitations, torture and death. Caravaggio was a "wild" and violent painter - screams of terror assume a prominent place in many of Caravaggio's works. The wildness of his personality exploded into his art.

Peter Paul Rubens

The Flemish and European Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens was the most renowned northern European artist of his day, and is now widely recognized as one of the foremost painters in Western art history. He was the proponent of the Baroque style which emphasized movement, color, and sensuality. By completing the fusion of the realistic tradition of Flemish painting with the imaginative freedom and classical themes of Italian Renaissance painting, he fundamentally revitalized and redirected northern European painting. Rubens was one of the most methodically assimilative and most prodigiously productive of Western artists. His abundant energy fired him to study and emulate the masters both of antiquity and of the 16th century in Rome, Venice, and Parma. His warmth of nature made him responsive to the artistic revolutions being worked by living artists, and robust powers of comprehension nourished his limitless resource in invention. He was able to infuse his own astounding vitality equally into religious and mythological paintings, portraits, and landscapes. He organized his complex compositions in vivid, dynamic designs in which limitations of form and contour are discounted in favour of a constant flow of movement.

Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt van Rijn is generally considered one of the greatest painters in European art history and the most important painter in Dutch history. Rembrandt is known as a painter of light and shade and as an artist who favoured an uncompromising realism. Rembrandt possessed an exceptional ability to render people in their various moods and dramatic guises. No artist ever combined more delicate skill with more energy and power. In all, Rembrandt produced over 600 paintings, 300 etchings, and 2,000 drawings. He was a prolific painter of self-portraits, producing almost a hundred of them throughout his long career. Together they give a remarkably clear picture of the man, his appearance, and - more importantly - his deeper being, as revealed by his face. His immediate family, his wife Saskia, his son Titus, and his common-law wife Hendrickje, often figured prominently in his paintings. The core of Rembrandt's creative work, however, consists of biblical and - to a lesser extent - historical, mythological, and allegorical paintings.



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