Renaissance VS Baroque
Since time immemorial, art has always been used as a form of expression. Each historical
art era was coupled with new techniques and technologies. Time, unique styles, characteristics
and social conditions influenced each era. Although each era brought new art forms and unique
styles, most historical art periods borrowed from an earlier period of history. The two periods in
discussion in this context are the Renaissance and Baroque eras, respectively. This paper will
serve to explain, describe, compare and contrast the two eras from an in-depth perspective
encompassing techniques employed and some of the artists and their work during these periods.
The Renaissance and Baroque periods have a fair share of differences and similarities
which contributed to their uniqueness. Scholars and artists of Italian descent began reexamining
the use of sculptures and art which were then revamped by Roman and Greek ideals (Banta, 6).
The renaissance period had a distinctive style of sculpting and painting. New stylistics
approaches were developed for instance linear perspectives, chiaroscuro, oil nettings and aerial
perspectives (Banta, 4) among others. The renaissance era rolled on to the baroque period. The
renaissance era came first between and 1400 and 1600 (Banta, 5). Various changes were adopted
from one period to the other. Differences in techniques accumulated along with perceptions of
music and art. Since 1600 to late 1700s, marked the period for the Baroque era, with the
inception of Monte Verdi and ended with Handel and Bach’s deaths (Hills, 15).
During the Renaissance, art reached one of its high points. Artists perfected and
developed their styles and were focused on taking their creativity to new levels regarding order
and clarity. The Renaissance was responsible for marvel works such as Leonardo da Vinci’s
“The Last Supper and Mona Lisa,” “creation of Adam,” by Michelangelo and Raphael’s “School
of Athens” (Banta, 7) to mention a few. Even after the Renaissance there seemed to be no
standstill for art, it progressed its heights even further. Artists progressively reached new levels
and played with different innovations, styles and techniques. Fast forward to the 1600s; the
Baroque era was born coupled with all its intensity and drama. Its emotional and extravagant
touch defines Baroque art. It appeals to the human psyche and senses while incorporating
striking contrasts like as depicted in the works of Peters Rubens, “The Straw Hat” (Hills, 20).
Significant differences become evident between the two periods when we study how the
artists dealt with perspectives and light (Arts, Artists, Artwork 1). Light is a crucial feature which
artists use to bring their art to life and convey messages. Artist can use light for contrasting
purposes and shadows among other purposes. Special attention is paid to how they compare their
works geometrically via the use of planes or perspectives. Planes refer to abstract two-
dimensional zones extending to specific directions (Banta, 7). During the Renaissance, light was
a tool used by artists in defining their subjects.
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Even if their works were inclined towards exploring the contrast between light and darkness, their subjects maintained their sharp boundaries and were clearly defined (Arts, Artists, Artwork 1). Light is used to illuminate forms and details of subjects in a controllable manner with clarity as the goal.
On the other hand, in the baroque period, light takes on the subject form. Artists used
intense contrasts between darkness and light, a style known as chiaroscuro (Banta, 4). This was
used to obscure subjects hence inducing a sense of drama and mystery. Boundaries blur and details slipped into the shadow and this would make blending the images making them indistinct.
Ambiguity was an acceptable option.
The contrast between the periods extends to the artists’ use of perspectives. Renaissance
artists focused on symmetry, parallel and stability (Marshall & Rene 6). Their art used planes
that line up in strong, horizontal manner which guides the eye from top to the bottom of the art
piece. Images and subjects were uniformly placed in the art hence balancing each other regularly
against a flat backdrop making everything nice and orderly. Baroque art, on the other hand,
integrates multiple perspectives heading in various directions, meeting at strange angles and
vanish at different points in the work. Viewers get sort of a twisted impression in the
construction as well as immersive depth coupled with a little bit of chaos (Marshall & Rene 5,
Hills, 10). Rarely did baroque artists balance out the elements in their work, movements and
contrast are the only parameters they considered crucial.
The Mona Lisa is a captivating piece of art by Leonardo Da Vinci. This one belongs to
the renaissance era and describes a painting of a “smiling woman” known as La Gioconda
(Marshall & Rene 3). The painting’s structure assumes a pyramid shape, and the bottom base is
made up of her folder arms. Shoulders and arms from the sides and her head as the pyramid’s
peak. There is support on her left hand which is hardly noticeable which extends to a
disappearing armrest (Arts, Artists, Artwork 1). Leonardo’s keen infatuation with the period’s
features in detail is evident. Detail is paramount in the painting from the creases in her dress to
the background, and how her hair is thoroughly painted. The art has a smoky overlay which
makes it seem like to have been immersed in a smoky haze was sue to da Vinci’s prowess in
blending one color area to another without perceivable outlines (Marshall & Rene 1). Linear perspective has been utilized delicately and the vanishing point can be seen behind the figure’s
“The Straw Hat” by Peter Rubens is a work of art belonging to the Baroque era and has
Susanna Fourment as the subject (Hills, 22). Fourment in the painting also depicts a pyramid
structure resembling Mona Lisa and her folded hands as the base. The hat on her head is casually
slanting, creating a line that cuts the pyramid’s peak. She has a flared skirt which is lightly
noticeable below her arms establishes the sense of a second smaller pyramid subtly concealed
under the first. Rubens demonstrates Baroque art’s feature of freestyle brush strokes. This is
noticeable in the figure’s dress and hat. The feathers and laced cuff in her hat are also
identifiable, though the graceful Baroque brushstroke style obscures the finer details. The use of
bold colors for Fourment’s clothes coupled with color and texture contrast on the skin and fabric
allows the figure to stand out as the focus of the painting. We see both artists treat their works
following the themes of their particular eras. Both paintings illustrate a young woman with
almost identical poses. The backgrounds are also similar as they have a foggy overlay. In the
Mona Lisa, the artist adds detail so that the viewer can focus on both the subject and the
background whereas Rubens focusses on the subject herself.
Both eras are unique and different in different aspects, yet they share significant
similarities, and their relationship is progressing. The Baroque period is said to have been born
as the end of the Renaissance, which proceeded to an illuminate, energetic, dramatic and
sophisticated art form. The Baroque era’s features blended the innovative techniques and
advances of the Renaissance period of mixing the fundamental facets of the natural and classical
manners characterized by emotional enthusiasm, dynamism and brilliance. Many art enthusiast
and scholars consider Baroque art form a continuation of the Renaissance period. Similar features of both periods include the use of light, planes, color, realism and idealism. In
conclusion, both eras generated several of the most celebrated artworks of all time despite their
similarities and differences.