Critical Essay


Baroque period is the period after renaissance that came around 1600. The style used at this period is what is referred to as baroque style .Baroque arts range from architecture, paintings, song and writing. The artist focused at the details and intricate designs. The arts are characterized by the detailed use of light to express the artist thoughts and to invoke human feelings.

Baroque paintings

The Baroque paints had a lot of details with bright polychrome. The painting had less realistic faces of their characters. One of the themes covered at this period is religion. The period came after the coming of Protestantism and after the Catholic’s Council of Trent which supported the use of art in the church. Some of the great painting artists at this period were Caravaggio, Regnier and Rembrandt Harmenszoon.

Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Caravaggio 1597

This painting portrays various biblical stories that revolve around the flight of the Holy family to Egypt to avoid killing of baby Jesus by Herod. In the painting Mary is painted asleep with the baby Jesus while Joseph is seated holding a manuscript that is given to him by an angel. The Holy family is resting under the shade of a tree. The manuscript is said to represent the modern man. The angel is seen as standing on the side as He sings a hymn to Mary using a violin. The violin was an instrument used in 1600’s and did not exist at the time of Jesus. This Caravaggio’s painting looks modern out of use of modern thing. For example the use of a violin makes this historical story look modern (Placa, 2009). The painting show Baroque characteristics: the shifts

Critical essay

in dark and light shadowing and modernization of the subject.

The penitent Magdalene by Nicolas Regnier

The artistic work portrays a lady in a remorseful or in a penitential mood. The lady represents Mary Magdalene. Mary is painted seated in a dark room one of her elbow seated on a scripture while the other holds a human skull on her laps. There is a jar at the top left hand which is used to show the jar of alabaster of precious unguent that Magdalene used to anoint Jesus’ feet. The painter succeeds in the use of colors and light to portray religious feelings. Watching the painting invokes repentance (Pino, 2009). The background is painted black while the foreground is bright. This could be interpreted as the liberation power of Christ. This effect of use of light and color confirms its Baroque nature.

Return of the prodigal son by Rembrandt

Rembrandt Harmenszoon was a Dutch who lived in Netherlands in the 17th century. This was a period of religious contemplation in the protestant Netherlands. The return of the prodigal son is one of his many proclaimed works. The painting features the biblical story of the prodigal son.

The painting depict a tired son being accepted back home by a happy father. The son is painted kneeling before his father showing remorse. The compassionately outstretched hand of the man receiving his son, show the human willingness to accept back home those who are lost in the dark (Doubleday, 1994). Rembrandt succeed in the use of color to invoke human feelings.


The artists discussed are deeply influenced by religious thoughts at their time. Their paintings try to express the religious thought at that time (Pareira, 2009). Caravaggio painted his painting on the Rest on the flight into Egypt around the legend of the Holy family rest as they fled to

Critical essay

Egypt. The artist shows the protective nature of Joseph by portraying him as awake. He also portrays God closeness to man. Regnier also lived in Italy. His painting of the penitent Magdalene portrays the thoughts in the church at his time. The painting came after the acceptance of use Icons in the church. His use of color clearly expresses the feeling of penitence and invokes its audience to repentance. Rembrandt Harmenszoon uses the effect of light and color to retell a famous biblical story through his painting (Nouwen, 1994).


Baroque era was an error of religious rejuvenation. It is the time after the incoming of Protestantism and the convention of the council of Trent. The artists’ use of color and light achieved in expressing the artist thought even to the less educated.


Slive S. (1995) Dutch Painting 1600-1800, New Haven/London:-Yale University Press.

Nouwen L.J (1994); The Return of the prodigal son;-Doubleday, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036;-

Bissell (2005);-Masters of Italy Baroque Painting;-The Detroit Institute of Art;-Giles;