chapter  9
23 Pages

THE BAROQUE OF THE CATHOLIC COURTS

Towards the end of the sixteenth century a striking change takes place in the history of Italian art; cool, complicated, intellectualistic mannerism yields to a sensual, emotional, universally comprehensible style-the baroque. This is the reaction of a conception of art which is partly intrinsically popular, partly held by the ruling cultural class but with consideration for the masses against the intellectual exclusiveness of the preceding period. The naturalism of Caravaggio and the emotionalism of the Carracci represent the two directions. In both camps the high level of culture attained by the mannerists declines. For even in the studio of the Carracci the things which are copied from the great masters of the Renaissance are comparatively simple and the thoughts and feelings to be expressed uncomplicated. Of the three Carracci, only Agostino can really be called ‘cultured’, and Caravaggio is plainly the typical bohemian, hostile to culture and a stranger to all speculation and theorizing.