Art History: The Baroque Period

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Art. Music, Science, & Society The painting by Caravaggio that the paper will discuss is "Medusa." He painted it in 1595 making this painting early Baroque. Baroque painting is characterized by serious drama, rich and deep colors. Baroque paintings also have intense lighting and contrast due to the very dark shadows. Baroque art typically captures the most action packed point. Baroque artists paint the most dramatic point of the stories they choose to tell or retell. Baroque art seeks to evoke human emotions, specifically passion and not the calm feelings sought by Renaissance art. Medusa was a Gorgon who was so hideous that she turned whomever looked directly at her into stone on the spot. Medusa was decapitated by Perseus who then used her head as a weapon. He ultimately gave Medusa's head to Athena for her to mount onto her shield. Caravaggio chose to paint the moment after the decapitation is complete. Medusa's final expression of horror is still on her face and even the snakes that are her hair are still mobile. Her eyes are wide open as is her mouth. The blood from her neck is in mid-movement as well. The light is cast on the right side of her face while the shadows across her left brow and left jaw are sharp. We cannot see the area near her hairline (or snakeline) nor can we see her left ear. Her skin tone and blood are very rich colors. The background is dark yet vivid and sets off the blood head sharply. Caravaggio does an amazing job of painting light tones
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