Baroque - Style in Art of the 17th-18th Centuries

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Baroque, often used as a specified expression when accounting for historic examples showing amazing goliath-like structures and artworks during the world’s early modern period. When used informally, the phrase baroque depicts works of high detail and elaborate design. Several Baroque artworks from Italy are characterized by the sophisticated use of emotionalism and theatricality. The 17th-century to the 18th-century is commonly referred to as Europe’s Early Modern period but is widely characterized as the Baroque Cultural Movement. Baroque culture originated in Italy but spread to colonies in the Americas and included most countries of Europe. The Baroque cultural covered many arts but it was celebrated for its visual arts to include sketches and paintings. The art styling in this period was known for its dramatism and its use of embellishments and ornamentations. A combination of art stylings was common during this age; “it is certainly not easy to prove that there is such a thing as ‘baroque art,’ rather than a congregation of diversified art that happen to have been created within the same era. A skirmish between the Reformation and Counter-Reformation was used to sculpt the religious narrative of the Baroque era. Churches and other religious establishments would often commission artists, such as Giuseppe Cades and his work the ‘Resurrection of Christ,’ to create forms of art that would inspire the religious content circulating in society at the time.

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It is widely accepted that a sole baroque style does be precisely pinpointed but on the other hand, one is almost tempted to speak of the very multiform of style to be the differentiating features of the century. The culture of this style focused around the strong religious practices of the times; “The Treaty of Westphalia granted the Dutch Republic independence from Spain in 1648, and its predominantly Protestant citizens, including a growing middle class, commissioned portraits, genre scenes, still lifes and landscapes”. This heavy Protestant influence is perfectly depicted by the art stylings produced during this age. An important driving force that undoubtedly shaped the era that would mark the “Baroque” art style was the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. Baroque art was developed meticulously in association with the Catholic Church. The style was promulgated, popularized and encouraged by Catholicism and the Inquisition, at the Council of Trent the Catholic Church had decided that the arts should elucidate the ideas of religious narrative and dictate an emotional association in response to the Protestant Reformation. This idea and push for what was seen as the Protestant morals and ideas are what gave rise to the talented artist at this time. These artists included Rembrandt, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and a lesser-known artist by the name of Giuseppe Cades.

Giuseppe Cades was born in 1750 and began training at Rome’s Accademia in San Luca at an early age as a draughtsman. By age sixteen he was excessively independent causing his master to dismiss him from the school. He was able to imitate “the old masters which were said to be good enough to fool the best experts”. making him an artist of envy and criticism. In the early 1700’s he made his living strictly as a copyist and engraver. But it did not matter because in the early 1770’s he received his first important commission- a “late Baroque classicist style inspired by Carlo Marotta”. Around 1774, he adopted “influences from Mannerist and Renaissance painting, as well as the antique”. Italy during this time had been heavily drained of older drawings; thus, creating a market for counterfeiters. Drawings in these styles were highly sought after because of the importance of the current culture and imitations sold extremely well. Cades is said to have been an honest man. His “imitations were sold as such and were not reproductions of known drawings but rather imitations ‘in the manner of'”. Cades was noted for his respectable pricing but also his ability to make his replications look aged and battered- “[startling] but not [fooling] most readers of this periodical”. His reputation grew and he became a fellow at the Accademia di San Luca in the late 1780s gaining clients that included Catherine the Great of Russia. “His deep, if very Roman, religious interests and beliefs is mentioned by his contemporaries” and expressed through the large number of religious works that he was commissioned to complete.

The most important being the Birth of the Virgin in 1784 for the choir of S. Maria Delle Vigne, Genoa. “Splendid for its sense of ornamented neoclassicism” – light-hearted and full of motion and play. This “religious drawing is in the manner Cades used for the many mythological subjects” he used in the vast number of commissions he completed of his mature style. It is said that the Resurrection of Christ in the Palazzo Camuccini, Cantalupo is inspired by the School of Raphael as well as perhaps Lanfranco. The drawing depicts Christ after the crucifixion during his resurrection. In the Picture you see Jesus ascending from the tomb where he was laid to rest. There is a sign of reverence in the drawing illustrated by the lack of detail on the characterization of Jesus, his features are washed out by the illumination of heaven opening the clouds to him. Jesus is accompanied by two angels who share his intentional lack of features; along the ground, you can see a depiction of those witnessing his rise. With the characters being drawn with chalk the is a harsh expression of shading and detail. The depictions of the other characters serve to isolate the importance of the character in the center. Heavy shading and deep coloration are used to make the other characters seem less important, unclean or unglorified in the shadow of the Christ. Cades spent his entire career in Rome and with his popular reputation, it is “probable that he sold more drawings than any other living in Rome”. His prominent career came to an end with his death in 1799.

The religious narrative of the eighteenth century was highly influenced by the contradicting views between the Reformation and Counter-Reformation; creating the Baroque era. The need of the churches to commission artists to give a visual representation of their beliefs gave rise to artists such as Giuseppe Cades, and in doing so allowed him to display his creativity in his works such as the ‘Resurrection of Christ.’ These forms of art would inspire the religious content circulating in society at the time. The conflict of religion during this age is what fashioned the eclectic art style that made the Baroque period famous. As well as the many numbers of styles and messages, several artists such as Giuseppe Cades were able to craft masterpieces that would live on past their own lives. In only 40 years Cades became well known in his recreation of those great works but also was able to create memorable ones of his own. As seen by this recount of the Baroque age, art can shape the world we live in, this was true in the eighteenth century and those echoes of religion can still be felt today. Giuseppe Cades depicted an image that is still modeled after today in art and religious practice.

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