Image courtesy of
The National Gallery of Art, U.S.A
During the time of the Renaissance, scientific reasoning was replacing faith. The Roman Catholic Church fought to restore religion against the fervor of growing secularism and a Counter Reformation spreading Protestant beliefs emerged. The mainstream Baroque style was one that emerged from the reformation. In other parts of Europe, the Baroque style was one that came out of the richness of the absolute rules of the French and Spanish monarchs, Louis XIV and Philip IV.
Effect on Faces and Figures:
The power of human expression was brought to new levels during the Baroque. People were shocked by the realism created by the artists. Their use of rich colors, and chiaroscuro effects brought an almost palpable drama in paintings. These images, filled with more expression and tension, came with the religious unrest, and brought upon a new chapter in the history of faces and figures in artwork.
The signature of Baroque paintings is its use of light. The light source is what brings the emotion into the paintings, and it is arguably the most prevalent aspect of the Baroque. Artists like Caravaggio used the light to create a central focus, drama, and used it in a way that incorporated high contrast and, in Caravaggio's case, a realistic smoothness. The light source is often shown in the paintings. Typical sources of light include a single lit candle, as in Henri de la Tour's case, or a window, as in Vermeer's case.