An insight into baroque and rococo art

During the baroque period of great theatrical energy, and a dramatic use of light, scale, and balance, French artists adopted Italian Renaissance ideas but made them their own; by the end of the seventeenth century, France had began to take the lead in European art. Early eighteenth-century France, the heavy theatrical qualities of Italian Baroque art gradually gave way to the decorative Rococo style, a light, playful version of the Baroque. The curved shapes of shells were copied for elegantly paneled interiors and furniture, and they influenced the billowing shapes found in paintings. The enthusiastic sensuality of the Rococo style was particularly suited to the extravagant and often frivolous life led by the French court and aristocracy. Some of the movement, light, and gesture of the Baroque remained, but now the effect was one of lighthearted abandon rather than dramatic action or quiet repose. Rococo paintings provided romantic versions of life free from hardships, in which courtships, music, and festive picnics filled the days.
"The conversion of Saint Paul" is a fantastic example of the Baroque period in all its glory, encompassing many of its characteristics. In the oil on canvas piece, painted in 1601, "The Conversion of Saint Paul", Caravaggio used light to imply a blinding flash, symbolizing the evangelist's conversion: "And suddenly there shined around him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth" (Acts 9:3). The figure of Paul, in Roman dress, is foreshortened and pushed into the fore-ground, presenting such a close view that we feel we are right there. In keeping with the supernatural character of the spiritual events he portrayed, Caravaggio evoked a feeling for the mystical dimension within the ordinary world. He wanted his paintings to be accessible and self-explanatory, and for this purpose he brought the emotional intensity of his own rowdy life to the stories of the bible….

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