- All Best Essays, Term Papers and Book Report

Art History - Baroque - the Sublime - Romanticism -

Essay by   •  February 29, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  5,286 Words (22 Pages)  •  1,896 Views

Essay Preview: Art History - Baroque - the Sublime - Romanticism -

Report this essay
Page 1 of 22

Discuss the following terms- Write at least one complete paragraph and include an example(s) of a work of art that defines the term. The work of art should include artist, title, material & dimensions.


The term Baroque refers to an artistic style prevalent during the seventeenth-century in Europe. Baroque may be related to the Italian word "Barocco", describing something "beautiful, fascinating, and strange". However, it can also be related to the Portuguese same word "Barocco", describing, as in Italian, an irregularly shaped pearl. This movement was on opposition to the Classicism.

This artistic movement describes a world of emotion; an emphasize on human emotions. We can see it through paintings of daily life. Indeed, painters will focus more on subjects from everyday life such as fruits, ordinary people, and ordinary portraiture. However, the work is still intense; the composition imposes asymmetrical movements, rich color palette, and "the inclusion of visual references to ancient Greece and Rome". It was also characterized by the vivid presentation of stories of saints, miracles, and the crucifixion.

The Calling of St. Matthew from Caravaggio, an oil on canvas made between 1599 and 1600, measuring 10'7 ½ " x 11'2" (3.24 x 3.4 m) perfectly embodies the Baroque style. We can feel a dark atmosphere, a harmonious and warm color palette where the brown color is prevailing and a diagonal light coming from the right that illuminate people's faces. The scene depicts a young man counting his money on a table, from the name of Levi, who will become St. Matthew. We can see Jesus, on the right, directly pointing at Levi (St. Matthew) while another man, sited at the same table, thinks that Jesus is pointing at him as a "Who me?". The light that appears from the right seems to come from a Chapel. This painting is revealing a scene that seems real, as if the viewer was a part of it; to share an emotion with the painter. The scene is dramatic, full of beauty and extremely powerful to the viewer. This painting also directly communicates a religious theme that is prevalent during the Baroque period.

The Sublime

The term Sublime was traditionally ascribed to Longinus (1st century AD). In essence, Longinus defined the Sublime as differing from beauty and was more oriented towards emotions, which necessarily should inspires the respect. The term Sublime entered in the 18th-century to define the obscure and the irregular, but not the beauty by itself. This term was first applied in literature with theories and criticism such as Joseph Addison's Spectator Essay, The Pleasures of the Imagination (1711). Soon enough, it was applied to the visual arts. Edmund Burke in A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1756), made a distinction between the Sublime and the Beautiful through man's passion of self-preservation, which add a diminution of fear while the Beautiful is a source of contentment. Burke influenced the great Philosopher Immanuel Kant who wrote a bunch of books regarding those two topics. Kant differentiated two sorts of feelings: coarse and finer. Both of them are requiring enjoyment but not terror. Basically, he agreed with Burk and came to the conclusion that the Sublime is "as vastness, terror and obscurity". Kant went also further and linked the Sublime with morality. Since the sublime was defined by "vastness, obscurity and irregularity", it could totally touch to the terror.

The Destruction of Sodom by J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) was painted in 1805; oil on canvas measuring 1460 x 2375 mm is an example of the sublime period. The painter painted an ambitious historical (Sodom) landscape. It is full of emotion thanks to the choice of the muted colors. We can see a city landscape in destruction, as a ruin. People are on the ground, trying to cover to help them against the horror; the atrocity that is happening. This adds a lot of emotion to the composition and trapped the viewer with a feeling of agony and pain.


The Romanticism movement was prevalent during the second half of the eighteenth-century in Europe; mostly in Britain and in France. This movement takes its name from the word "romances", which mainly describes the world of literature (poems, novellas, ...) written in Romance; which is derived by the Latin languages. The word "Romantic" describes more a melancholic, sensitive approach. It is also characterized by the use of loose brush, by a sense of reality; of an event that really happen; not imaginative, by an emphasize on lighting work. While Neoclassicism (which is an artistic movement that focus on the past and can still be, sometimes present in Romanticism Arts) was more serving as a public purpose to the society, Romanticism was more private and based on individuality. However, the Romantic style in painting was still diverse. "By breaking the geometric compositional principles of classicism, romanticism moved toward fragmentation of design. The intent was to dramatize, to personalize, and to escape into imagination. Romantic painting reflected a striving for freedom from social and artistic rules and an intense introversion."

The oil on canvas Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David, painted in 1793, measuring 5'5" x 4'2 ½ " (1.65 x 1.28 m) is a good example of the Romanticism movement. David painted the death of a radical journalist from the name of Jean-Paul Marat. Marat was a simple man, living simply among his poor furniture, and was writing about the abolition of the aristocratic privilege. As he was suffering from a painful skin ailment, he had to write for the most of his time, in a medicinal bath. A woman from the name of Charlotte Corday was against Marat's principles and accused him for the 1792 riots where hundreds of sympathetic to the king were killed. To revenge her party, she decided to stab Marat while he was in his bath. On the painting, we can see a Marat with a pen in his right hand while holding a paper dated from 1793, July 13, where it is written " Il suffit que je sois bien malheureux pour avoir Droit a votre bienvieillance ("I am just too unhappy to deserve your kindness"). This is a strong statement that reveals a strong grief. The background of this painting is plain, no decoration. This emphasizes a really quiet and sad mood that is surrounding the painting. We can notice bloods on the off-white sheet. Instead of being an ugly scene, David had transformed it into a quiet and somber piece.



Download as:   txt (30.3 Kb)   pdf (300.7 Kb)   docx (22.8 Kb)  
Continue for 21 more pages »
Only available on