The Baroque: 12 brilliant works of art

a Smarthistory short course

1600s

After the Protestant Reformation, the Church’s emphasis on art’s pastoral role prompted artists to experiment with new and more direct means of engaging the viewer. Artists like Caravaggio turned to a powerful and dramatic realism, accentuated by bold contrasts of light and dark, and tightly-cropped compositions that enhance the physical and emotional immediacy of the depicted narrative.