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Baroque art was invented and inspired by the Catholic Reformation, which came from the Council of Trent (1546/1563) as a reaction to the Protestant Reformation. Started in Italy, it quickly spread throughout Europe. The goal was to reinforce Catholicism’s omnipotence. After Rome, Genoa, Naples and Milan,baroque art spread throughout the rest of Europe: the Spanish Basque Country, England, France, Spain and central Europe.
The idea was to restore the status of “icons” (paintings, statues of saints…) in the Catholic religion, which had been questioned by Protestantsdue to their belief that “decoration” is not a pre-requisite of closeness to God.
Baroque is the art of staging: movement created from the interplay of draped fabrics, curves, counter-curves and scrolls, with a touch of drama thanks to the interplay of lights, curved lines and theatrical settings passed down from Antiquity and the Renaissance. It’s aboutexcess and grandiosity.
Baroque paintings are essentially religious: the Virgin Mary, the saints and the angels… You’ll also see triumphant images (ecstasies, apotheoses…), scenes of martyrdom, visions of death, allegories, mythological scenes… That explains the high number of statues representing the Virgin Mary holding a dead Christ in her arms, and the depictions of saints.
The goal is to inspire strongfeelings among the faithful, to dazzle them and in so doing, appeal to them by demonstrating the power of the Catholic religion through its art.
Baroque Art in Savoie
Savoie boasts more than eighty 17th century baroque churches and chapels.
During this period, churches and chapels of medieval origin were expanded or transformed according to an almost identical schematic: with a sober exterior,baroque churches contain a wall of images at the back of the choir, a genuineillustrated catechism. The altarpiece, carved from Swiss pine, is arranged around the tabernacle. Two side panels, usually punctuated by twisted columns, frame the painted or sculpted central panel.
The detail on the altarpiece depicts key characters from the Catholic religion whose painted or sculpted depictions are accompanied by flocks of smiling, graceful cherubs.
“Les Chemins du Baroque” circuit,which runs through La Maurienne, La Tarentaise, Le Val d’Arly and Le Beaufortain, lets you discover these jewels of baroque art.
Our churches are decorated with baroque gilding and altarpieces. Step inside to soak up all their beauty: You can really feel the intensity of religious belief that inspired villagers and artists in the 17th and 18th centuries to acts of such artistic and technical prowess.Discover more