The Baroque Period was the age of reason when minds and imaginations opened up new worlds of scientific knowledge as well as artistic creativity. (Fleming, 375) The Baroque era was a period of grandeur and magnificence that gave off a powerful awe inspiring style that was full of flamboyant concepts and overall dramatic quality. From Venice, as well as from Rome and the centers where international mannerism flourished, the roads to Baroque art fanned out in all directions. The style of Baroque art was so diverse that it's difficult to determine what classifies it as being art of the Baroque era. Although Baroque art has many different artistic manifestations there are certain general characteristics that appear in all three types of Baroque art. The Counter Reformation Baroque style focuses on astonishing and overpowering its audience.
Art of this time was also enlisted in serving the purposes of the church militant. The Aristocratic Baroque style focuses on glorifying the state and asserting national power and prestige. The last style of the Baroque age, Bourgeois Baroque, was marked by the concentration on down-to-earth common people of the middle class. The individuality of each style of the Baroque period is visibly distinctive, yet similar in their own exclusive approaches. The Counter Reformation art, which focused on the command of the church, was created by the Jesuits in 1534. It was also dynamic and religious due to the influence of the church.
In Artemisia Gentileschi's Judith Slaying Holofernes, a religious fervor can be seen in this brutally graphic version of a biblical scene which enlightens the action with realism and powerful female protagonists. Gentileschi's use of emotionalism is visible because of the abundance of dramatic aspects due to the vicious slaughter of Holofernes by the Jewish widow, Judith. She also utilizes the aspect of light and shade to extract the spectator's attention to the dramatic action of the painting. Her use of realistic colors, textures, and substances creates illusionism in the appearance of the scene.
Through Gentileschi's use of dynamic religious fervor and lack of boundaries she clearly creates a classic Counter Reformation painting of the Baroque era. In Aristocratic Baroque art, the emphasis shifted from the divine God to the divine state. After the restoration of monarchy under Louis XIV, the Baroque period resumed its magnificent course and the state became the focal point of all art. In Hyacinthe Rigaud's Louis XIV, the magnificence of the domination by the state is undoubtedly perceived.
In his painting the glorification of the state is apparent by stressing Louis's preeminent qualities which was the personification of France. The authority and splendor of the state is conveyed through his use of illusionism of his lavish red and gold drapery which portrays an image of dignity and authority. Through his use of texture and color he creates an exceedingly lavish scene with many assorted varieties of fabric which also appeals to the Baroque ideal of richness and lavishness. The Bourgeois Baroque art style is differentiated by the down-to-earth, middle class families which were predominantly seen in Holland and Flanders.
This period was also marked by a variety of painting categories including: history scenes, landscapes, genre scenes, still-life, portraiture, and corporation pictures. An example of one specific still-life painting of the Bourgeois Baroque is Willem Claes Heda's Still Life with Oysters, Rum Glass, and Silver Cup. In the still-life studies, objects were rendered with almost scientific precision as seen in Heda's painting. (Fleming, 441) Light and shade is also an exceedingly strong aspect of the Bourgeois era, this is visibly observed through the inflowing of light accenting the domestic intimacy of the painting. In using realistic colors, textures, and substances the artist facilitates a painting of illusionism. The artist pays particularly close attention to every detail in the painting from the realistic quality of the orange peel, to the glistening of the oyster..