THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION ON THE ART OF THE 17TH CENTURY

Amongst the most influential religious leaders was Martin Ruther. His main agenda was that of demonizing the Catholic Church. He condemned them of corruption and wastage in using expensive art and grand architecture. While doing this, he did not know that he was initiating a fierce movement that would make over the nature of politics religion and art. The next century was packed with mayhem as new political and religious boundaries were determined through bloody conflict (Camara par. 1).

Martin Luther focused on what he termed as abuse of power and greed in the Catholic Church. In his campaigns, he referred to Rome as the whore of Babylon. The church responded to his campaigns in two ways; they resolved issues of corruption and defended the doctrines that the Protestants rejected.  The middle decades of the 16th century saw a great transformation in the Catholic Church. They exempted themselves from lavish spending and went into pious activities (Camara par. 3).

While the Protestants were ardently opposed to the art, the Catholic Church vigorously protested and viewed art as a means to help spread the word to both the learned and the unlearned. They therefore embraced art insisting that the art they used carried a message as well as moved the people it was intended for (“The Baroque Art Movement: Artists and Artwork of the 17th Century.” Par. 4).

This persistence on the role of art in spreading the word saw to artists trying new forms of art to engage their audiences.  Caravaggio, for example turned to an energetic and dramatic realism emphasized by contrasts of dark and light which commanded the emotional and physical immediacy of the message depicted. Annibale Carracci and others chose to embrace a more classical visual image that depicted balanced masterpieces of the High renaissance. Giovanni Battista and others chose the more delusional path that was not only blurred at the boundaries between the sculpture, architecture and painting but also that between the real and the portrayed worlds (“The Baroque Art Movement: Artists and Artwork of the 17th Century.” Par. 4).

 The protestant churches also changed a lot immediately after the reformation. The new breed of believers strived to show their sense of class through the purchase of the arts. In the middle 17th century, small-scale art that could be hanged in homes was adopted to meet this new market. The subjects and forms were diverse including biblical narratives, private contemplation and individual likenesses (Camara par. 5).

In conclusion, the movement that was initiated by martin Luther ended up bringing numerous changes in the 17th century. While art had began as a source of conflict, both divisions of faith eventually embraced art as a way of spreading their messages (Camara par. 7).

Works Cited

“The Baroque Art Movement: Artists and Artwork of the 17th Century.” EmptyEasel.com: Painting Tips, Artist Reviews, Selling Art Online and more. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 June 2014. http://emptyeasel.com/2007/10/30/the-baroque-art-movement-artists-and-artwork-of-the-17th-century/

Camara, Esperança. “1600-1700: The Baroque: Art, Politics & Religion in 17th-century Europe – Smarthistory.” Smarthistory: a multimedia web-book about art and art history. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 June 2014. http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/1600-1700-the-Baroque.html

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