Depictions of the Reformation in Art

The corruption and immorality of the Chapel spurred the Religious Reform movements in European countries, eventually resulting in the "century of civil conflict between Protestants and Catholics" or the Protestant Reformation. The Counter- Reformation began with the Pope Paul III's calling of the Council of Trent in response to Protestant uprising; this movement was initiated by the Church's attempt to re-establish its electric power as really the only true Cathedral of Christ while pacifying the current disorder as well. The creation of these two rivaling actions jeopardized the Roman Catholic Church's definite authority in Europe, dividing it into the parts of the Protestant North and Catholic South. Inspired by both of these opposing actions, the North and South branched out into different guidelines in terms of its culture and creative style of painting. They developed unique design of painting, depicting differing styles, styles, and contents predicated on their dissimilar values. What influence does the reform actions have on the paintings from the south of the Alps, the north of the Alps, and holland and were the artists from these parts inspired by each other regardless of the divergence in their styles? The paintings by the performers from the South of the Alps would probably been affected by the Counter- Reformation, as the works created from the other two locations would mirror the effect of the Protestant - Reformation because of their physical locations. Therefore, the content and reason for the works from these locations should differ but some similarities may can be found in the performers' painting techniques since it was common for artists to travel to Rome during this time. It really is interesting to investigate the way the style in 16th and 17th Century European countries was molded by the religious disparity and the development of new ideas which were reflected in the paintings. Since it is inaccurate to generalize the complete Western continent into only two sections, I made a decision to narrow down my theme by concentrating on the South of the Alps, the North of the Alps, and the Netherlands. I thought we would study these areas because the South of the Alps was the center of Counter- Reformation highly embraced by the Roman Catholic Church, while the North of the Alps was the delivery place of the Protestantism. And holland was the hot bed for dispute between Calvinism and Catholicism. I known the Protestant Reformers as one group, choosing never to deal with the Protestant sectarianism, a department within the Reformers because of the difference in their interpretation of the sacred text messages, as part of my research.

The last spark of the Protestant Reformation was "The Ninety-Five Theses" written by Martin Luther in 1517. His work disclosed Church's dishonesty, rousing questions in people's imagination about the Catholicism and also the Church's authority. His criticism of the sales of indulgences and the Roman Catholic clergy's abuses quickly acquired popularity among people, no matter their public standings and riches, ultimately giving birth to Protestantism. Martin Luther condemned the sale of indulgences as a violation of the original meaning of confession and penance. Indulgence is the forgiveness of the temporal abuse for sins which have recently been confessed. Reformers like Zwingli and Calvin had also commented on the corruptions within Cathedral, but Luther was the main one who presented the radical idea of purifying the Christianity by physically breaking away from the Roman Catholic Chapel. The Luther's idea distributed swiftly throughout the Europe, intimidating the Roman Catholic Church's founded authority especially in the North.

In addition to being known as the center of the Counter-Reformation, the South of the Alps was known as the guts of stylistic development as well. It was the area of passion and invention with the overflow of new creative styles eventually giving birth to the Italian Renaissance. The musicians and artists from all the Europe frequented Rome and were encouraged by the initial Italian styles. Apart from the innovative varieties of Italian Renaissance, its content was often totally spiritual. The Roman Catholic Church attempted to re-establish the catholic faith among people by regulating the artworks produced. The southern painters were forced to bring back the medieval tradition of producing totally religious artwork, branching off into different course from the North painters.

Scipione Pulzone was famous in Rome as the prototype of the Southern painters during this time period period for his strictly spiritual paintings. The Lamentation, one of is own most famous paintings, acts as the leading exemplory case of the skill commissioned by the Cathedral. Painted in 1592 for the chapel of the Passion of Christ in the Jesuit church of Ges№ in Rome, this painting is evidently inspired by the Counter- Reformation in that it demonstrates the new artistic style advocated by the holy council. The Crucifixion of the Christ is the concentration of this art piece, pulling viewer's attention right to the idealistic image of Christ in the center. Like other southern painters during this time period, the artist propagated beliefs by portraying the lives of saints and Christ in an authentic yet intensely dramatic manner. The careful details, cosmetic expressions, along with the shadows cast on people enhance the lifelike characteristics. The depiction of the folds on people's gowns is also note-worthy. The musician contributes details such as "tears of Virgin, the crown of thorns presented by John, and the pallor of the Christ's body" to portray people in a more expressionistic manner. Moreover, the spotlight on the Christ in the center contributes an illusionistic and dramatic element to the painting which counter-balances the painting's reasonable image. The light cast on the Christ, compared to the dark backdrop, creates almost a theatrical impression. These characteristics signify the style of fine art in the south of the Alps during this period, also known as the Italian Renaissance. "Catholic Italy and Lutheran Germany shared in a energetic business. . . and the skill of the sixteenth century in the north manifests the good thing about the exchange. " Although the spiritual clash tormented the sixteenth century European countries, the exchange of artistic ideas sustained to thrive.

In the North, "the intellectual shakeup of age-old faiths and viewpoints prepared just how for a fresh and nonreligious view on the world-the Enlightenment-when the climb of a technological view of dynamics would challenge permanently the dogmatisms of the past, " also known as the Northern Renaissance. However, the artwork of northern European countries during this period is also characterized by "an abrupt awareness of the advances created by the Italian Renaissance and by a prefer to assimilate this new style. " Quite simply, while the content of the artworks stated in the North differ from those of the spot south of the Alps, the style was similar. Many northern artists traveled to Rome to study the new skill in firsthand as well as others were subjected to the Italian style of painting through the immediate contact with the Italian designers who arrived to the north. The effect of the Italian fine art varied in line with the artist, the time, and the place; the northern musicians and artists generally retained their local customs while implementing "only one motifs or the overall form of any composition". The Northern painters generally speaking moving away from depicting biblical views and considered painting common people in a commonplace setting can be inferred to acquire been influenced by the Protestant- Reformation. Especially in the north of the Alps, the musicians and artists quickly contained Italian style into their artworks while preventing portrayal of spiritual themes.

The famous work, The Battle of Issus, by Albrecht Altdorfer in 1529 is a superb example of a north painting that diverges from the works stated in the locations south of the Alps. Albrecht Altdorfer symbolizes the Donaustil (Danube Style), which depicts the scenery and stresses ambiance and interest. Although Altdorfer's style is exclusive and personal, it still reflects the impact of Protestant- Reformation for the reason that it removes depiction of spiritual themes. Additionally, his style plainly diverges from the style of painting widespread in the regions of the south of the Alps. The painter provides bird's attention view of an Alpine surroundings as the environment and depicts the struggle scene where the Alexander the fantastic overthrows the Persian King Darius. Rather than illustrating the totally religious theme, the musician chooses to target more on depicting the historical event. The audience of people compared to the vast characteristics in the backdrop advises the moralizing theme of the insignificance of human life. He uses the vast nature in the background to symbolize the power of cosmos and the illuminating sky to signify the immense space. The moderate track of Italian Renaissance is shown by the meticulous details the painter uses for the image of Alexander the fantastic and the dramatic and illusionistic portrayal of the setting up. Also the idealistic impression of the artwork as a whole resembles that of the Italian Renaissance paintings.

Another praise-worthy exemplory case of Northern painting may be the Common sense of Paris by Lucas Cranach the Elder, who is the representative of German Protestant painting. This work is a superb example of how his works shifted from religious to humanistic subject matter when he became a follower of Luther. His humanistic subject matter issues include mythology, history, and also portraits. The Wisdom of Paris illustrates the arena from mythology where the three goddesses boast off their beauties before Paris. The humanistic subject matter along with the background landscape shows the typical characteristics of Northern paintings. The cupid in the painting acts as a symbol for love and affection while the German armor that Paris is putting on in the painting presents his social status as a knight and his honor. The designer will not dress the goddesses following the antique manner. Cranach's structure displaying the nude was influenced so that they can learn from the style of Italian Renaissance.

The Four Apostles by Albrecht Durer in 1526 is a amazing north painting that is stylistically influenced by Italian Renaissance. This art piece is exclusive in that the painter expresses his own spiritual and political testament, sympathizing "the protestant cause and [alert] contrary to the dangerous times, when religious, real truth, justice, and the virtues all will be threatened. " Unlike other Northern paintings, this piece does contain spiritual meanings, but it distinguishes itself from Italian paintings by eliminating any glorification of the Church. This piece was hung in the location hall, the four apostles symbolically representing the guardians of the town; they are cautioning people from the sermons of phony prophets who'll misinterpret the term of God. The four apostles are symbolic rep of various ideas like the four temperaments, of the real human soul, as well as the four age ranges of man. In this painting, Durer's experience of planing a trip to Italy allows him to harmonize both opposing styles of northern naturalism and southern monumentality. The sensible visualization of the four apostles demonstrates the north naturalism as the monumentality of the statistics along with the brilliant use of color and sharpened lighting reflection the Italian Renaissance. Durer, along with Cranach and Altdorfer, functions for example of northern musician who illustrated details related to Protestant-Reformation while combining styles of Italian Renaissance into his paintings.

The Netherlands was the exceptional region in North in which Calvinism and Catholicism co-existed. In the overdue 16th Century, the Northern Netherlands could break from Spain's influence, while the Southern Netherlands remained under the rule of Spain. Therefore, the North Netherlands eventually embraced Calvinism as the Southern Netherlands continued to be as supporters of Catholicism. It's important to understand that Dutch and Flemings weren't predestined to be Calvinists and Catholics; it was entirely brought on by the physical and military circumstances. No curtain existed between your North and the South that forbid the exchange of ideas. In fact, Constantin Huygens, a diplomat and an art critic, referred to great painters of Amsterdam, Utrecht, along with the Hague collectively as the painters of Netherlands. Therefore, it can't be figured the North Netherlands was only affected by Calvinist ideas, which also pertains to the Southern Netherlands.

In the early 17th Century Catholicism was suppressed and catholic churches were demolished because of the iconoclast movement, but the protestantizing of the Northern Netherlands was still a slow process. Most performers chose to stay as Catholics, although exact number is hard to ascertain. However, the attempt to repair damage brought on by the iconoclast movement was not as extensive and since systematic in the North such as the South. The North Renaissance in holland took on a completely different form from the Italian Renaissance because the Church no longer was the major patron in the North. Instead, the wealthy merchant middle class were the primary patrons of the fine art and thus, the Dutch masters painted small pictures because of their small houses, not for the Cathedral altars. Since large cathedral commissions were no longer available, artists changed their styles in accordance to the taste of their clients. The designers from holland specialized in extreme realism, depicting lifelike features with an unflattering integrity, unlike the Italian Renaissance painters who specialized in idealism and simplicity. Therefore, the basis of fine art for the Northern Renaissance was observation while for the Italian Renaissance, it was theory. The Northern Renaissance in the Netherlands indirectly shows the affect of Protestantism in that religious themes no more prevailed in artwork, although more immediate triggers were the changing structure of holland overall economy and culture. The artworks stated in the 17th Century Netherlands were more traditional in comparison to those of Germany, focusing on the type and the past times of the profitable Dutch vendors. The "direct portraits, sensible still-lifes, landscapes, marine-scapes, and genre paintings exhibiting scenes of day-to-day life" were popular subject matter of the Dutch painters.

A Field on the Glaciers by Hendrick Avercamp in 1625 is an accurate representation of a typical Dutch style, illustrating the commonplace arena of men and women enjoying snowboarding in the tranquil community of Kampen northeast of Amsterdam. His style clearly reflects the Northern Renaissance's realism and its own use of details, faithfully depicting the wintertime. He improves his realistic making by utilizing a frosty day to convey a feeling of depth; "the pearly grey tonality here becomes ever before paler and the forms less particular as they move into the distance. " His work is unique for the reason that it efficiently portrays all classes of Dutch society through by using meticulous details, "from the poor fisherman surveying the skater to the well-dressed women riding within an elegant sleigh influenced by a groom. " This is actually the typical genre painting of Northern Renaissance departing itself from the religious impact of Roman Catholic Church of Italy.

A seascape, along with scenery, also became extremely popular in Holland due to the rise of product owner school; view of Dordrecht from the Dordtse Kil by Jan Van Goyen decorated in 1644 acts is an impressive seascape painting. The musician uses monochromatic period, which really is a technique in which a solo color dominates the painting, to "unify each view of character;" the golden brown aura dictates the landscape, from the hazy clouds to metropolis skyline. He reached the summit of North realism by bringing down the horizon to target more on the atmospheric conditions overhead and by creating an illusion of standing on the opposite shoreline of the slot. Unlike the Northern Netherlands, the Southern Netherlands was more influenced by the Counter Reformation than the Protestant Reformation. The Reborn Catholicism in Spain acquired an undeniable effect on the Southern Netherlands provinces. Moreover, France directed numerous religious requests and congregations to Spanish Netherlands to be able to secure the Catholics' authority.

The disparity in the material of the paintings resulted from the disagreement in Protestants' and Catholics' perspectives of the human marriage with god. Unlike the Protestants who claimed that humans can have a primary communication with god, the Catholics argued that intermediaries, such as saints and the Virgin Mary, are essential for humans to connect with god. Therefore, Catholics created artworks of saints, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus and provided reverence to them, as a way of getting nearer to god. Although Catholics asserted that they are not worshipping the intermediaries, the Protestants criticized this practice and led the iconoclastic actions. Iconoclasm is a deliberate devastation of religious symbols and icons within one's own culture for religious changes. The Protestants and Catholics' discord was brought on by the difference in their perspectives of the "sacred" and "secular";while the Catholics retained the clear separation of both, the reformers acknowledged the connection between the two. Subsequently, the Roman Catholic Church clergy advocated strictly spiritual and sacred artworks whereas the reformers preferred artworks depicting the lives of common people. The Northern Protestant painters thought that "an ordinary life could glorify God as much as a life `in the ministry' "; since god created humans in His image, the reformation performers claimed they are glorifying god by portraying the natural beauty of his creation, in other words, the individuals. These differing ideas are well conveyed through the artworks produced from the locations south of the Alps, north of the Alps, and holland mentioned above. My thesis is partially proven to be correct for the reason that Italian fine art was definitely inspired by the Counter-top- Reformation and that German artwork was influenced by the Protestant- Reformation. But contradicting to my statement, holland was affected by both religious movements. According to the Art History Teacher Sarah Blick from Canyon University or college, the Counter- Reformation experienced a more direct influence on skill produced after 1520s then the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, she recommended me concentrate on having less religious content in the artworks in order to review the affect of Protestant Reformation during her interview. Although artworks from each one of these regions have different characteristics that place them aside, Italian design of painting frequently recognized in these artworks indicate that performers were encouraged by one another. Because I had developed to narrow down my issue, many new questions emerged from my research. I am inquisitive to know whether the various Protestantism had different influences on art. For this research, I referred to Protestants as one group but I wish to stretch my research so that I can research on the influence of the Protestant Sectarianism on artwork.


  1. MacCulloch, Diarmaid. The Reformation A BRIEF HISTORY. New York: Viking Adult, 2004. Print.
  2. The Annotated Mona Lisa. Missouri: John Boswell Management, Inc. , 1992. Printing.
  3. Helen, Gardner, . Gardner's skill through the age ranges. Fort Worthy of: Harcourt Brace School, 1996. Print.
  4. Iconography of the Counter Reformation in holland heaven on the planet John B Knippings
  5. "Art of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. " HyperHistory. net. Web. 07 Oct. 2009. .
  6. "Scipione Pulzone (Il Gaetano): The Lamentation (1984. 74) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art Background | The Metropolitan Museum of Art. " The Metropolitan Museum of Artwork, New York: metmuseum. org. Web. 07 Oct. 2009. .
  7. Janson, H. W. Background of artwork for young people. NY: H. N. Abrams, 2002. Printing.
  8. "Matters of Flavor: Genre and Still Life Painting in the Dutch Golden Years. " Welcome to Albany Institute of History and Art. Web. 07 Oct. 2009. .
  • More than 7,000 students prefer us to work on their projects
  • 90% of customers trust us with more than 5 assignments
submit a project

Latest posts

Read more informative topics on our blog
Shiseido Company Limited Is A Japanese Makeup Company Marketing Essay
Marketing Strength: Among the main talents of Shiseido is its high quality products. To be able to satisfy customers, the company invested a great deal...
Fail To Plan You Plan To Fail Management Essay
Management This report will concentrate on two aspects of project management, their importance within the overall project management process. The report...
Waste To Prosperity Program Environmental Sciences Essay
Environmental Sciences Urban and rural regions of India produce very much garbage daily and hurting by various kinds of pollutions which are increasing...
Environmental Studies Pollution Introduction Many people across the world can remember having walked on the street and seen smoke cigars in the air or...
Soft System Methodology
Information Technology Andrzej Werner Soft System Methodology can be described as a 7-step process aimed to help provide a solution to true to life...
Strategic and Coherent methods to Recruiting management
Business Traditionally HRM has been regarded as the tactical and coherent method of the management of the organizations most appreciated assets - the...
Enterprise Rent AN AUTOMOBILE Case Analysis Business Essay
Commerce With a massive network of over 6,000 local rental locations and 850,000 automobiles, Organization Rent-A-Car is the greatest rental car company...
The Work OF ANY Hotels Front Office Staff Travel and leisure Essay
Tourism When in a hotel there are careers for everyone levels where in fact the front office manager job and responsibilities,assistant professionals...
Strategy and international procedures on the Hershey Company
Marketing The Hershey Company was incorporated on October 24, 1927 as an heir to an industry founded in 1894 by Milton S. Hershey fiscal interest. The...
Check the price
for your project
we accept
Money back
100% quality