Following the Italian art history and the way the English language uses the term “baroque”, the term can be used to refer to a deviation. In the history of Italian art, baroque art was criticized for deviating from the classics and therefore, the deviation made baroque and classicism become rivals. Classicism, on the other hand, is described as what the western civilizations aspire the most. Classicism is associated with perfection. In the history of art, some artworks were known to have been classical for example the Raphael paintings during the Renaissance period. Classicism also appeared again in the Poussin paints also called baroque classicism. The usage of the term classicism from the past is understood to have been used to refer to anything that is considered the best ever achieved in its industry (Lynnet et al. 15-20).
The Ecstasy of St. Theresa was designed and created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and the aim of the sculpture was to illustrate the vision of the saints in the life after death. St. Theresa had died and the Roman Catholic Church had declared her a saint in 1622. Thus, Bernini used art in the service of the Roman Catholic Church to make those on Earth to visualize what is religiously experienced after death. The beauty of the experience is depicted by the use of the rays of light that shine upon St. Theresa and the sculpture of an angel. The combination that Bernini uses in the sculpture is aimed at making the Catholics become emotional about the spiritual experience they get. In other words, the Church used the sculpture to inspire its members to be more closely connected to God. To other cultures like the Protestants, Bernini work is considered as a baroque and it is only classical to the Roman Catholics (Lynnet et al. 27-30).
Nicholas Poussin was one of the foreign artists that developed interests in the baroque artworks of the Italians. From what he learned in Italy, he designed and created a painting that revived classicism and that painting was the Discovery of Achilles on Skyros. The painting is considered classical since it represents the best method of differentiating a man disguised as a woman. Poussin depicts a story of how Achilles mother found it wise to save the life of her son that she thought would be lost if he went to war by making him disguise himself as a woman, and hides him with other two women in the Island of Skyros. When two Greeks learn about this, they disguise themselves as merchants of jewels in an effort to find Achilles in the Island. When they are there, the painting shows them how the different jewels attract the people they find there when they are presented to them and the people are – Achilles’ mother, Achilles, and the two women. The two women are attracted to a mirror where one merchant seems to inform how much he is selling the mirror. Achilles seems to have been attracted by a sword, which he takes from the box of jewels, and he is seen drawing out the sword like a man would. Achilles’ mother is surprised by her son’s quick actions and so is the second merchant. Thus, Poisson’s painting shows the drama that Achilles displays unknowingly by portraying his masculine behavior in public and his mother is surprised that Achilles is unable to hide his gender and so is the second merchant surprised at the woman that seems to have masculine characteristics. Poisson’s painting is not criticized as Bernini’s painting, as everyone understands and accepts the story depicted and that makes Poisson’s painting classical (Lynnet et al. 50-54).
Lynn Hunt, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara H. Rosenwein, and Bonnie G. Smith. The Making of the West, Volume 1: To 1750: Peoples and Cultures 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018.
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