Baroque Art and the Counter-Reformation
Baroque art was church sponsored in an attempt to make “Rome the cultural center of the western world” (Benton, J., & DiYanni, R. 2008) and because of this many artists flocked to Rome to take advantage of the opportunity. Religious art was to be directed towards clarity, realism, and emotion. So, basically the church wanted religious art to be understood by all people, realistic so that people would associate themselves with it and thus it would have more meaning to them, and evoke and arouse favor with the catholic religion, to counter the “Protestant threat”. Music for example was expected to have lyrics that were intelligible and accessible to everyone. Literature was to reflect religious values, morals and ideas.
An example is Triumph of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It appears to have not only angels but real people (that do look very realistic) mingling with each other in what could be viewed as a heaven like atmosphere of the promised life after death. The book says that if you are standing in the center of it looking up you cannot tell where the architecture ends and the painted architecture begins.
Another example would be by Caravaggio, Entombment, 1603. It is a realistic painting depicting the entombment of Jesus’ body after he was crucified on the cross. This completely shows what the Counter Reformation was meant to show. Realism, understanding of the events, it tells a little bit of the story of the crucifixion, and at the same time to a Catholic believer would evoke the emotions associated with the severity of God sending his only son to die for our sins. (Opinion based on years of religious training forced on me by my mother... LOL)
To clarify, the realism and telling the story and use of art to evoke emotion is used in both examples provided and embodies everything that Counter Reformation was supposed to stand for.