The Divide between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation

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The Counter-Reformation was the response of the Catholic Church to the Protestant Reformation set in motion by Martin Luther. It was a period of revival for Catholicism stemming from the Council of Trent. The Council was established to address the numerous issues disputed by Protestantism, defining and reforming Church teachings, doctrine, and structure. Catholicism and Protestantism were also divided regarding the visual arts. The Protestant Reformation promoted iconoclasm, calling for the removal and destruction of religious images. Idolatry, the worshiping of an image or physical object as God, was prohibited. In response, the Catholic Church called for greater production of religious art, becoming the most prominent patron. These new artworks were meant to glorify God and assert the authority of the Catholic Church. Caravaggio’s The Conversion of Saul [Saint Paul] (c. 1601) is one example of such artworks. Depicted in the oil painting is Saul of Tarsus, who will become Saint Paul, on the ground after falling from his horse. Saul is blinded by the light and succumbs to the voice of God. The figure of Saul pours forward into the space, creating a diagonal composition extending the image outward to the viewer. His arms reach out to shield himself from the horse that towers above him. The power of the horse is threatening, arrested in motion as if about to stomp on the fallen Saul. Characteristic of Caravaggio is the intense contrast between light and dark or

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