In the 1600s and 1700s, the art of "divine" kings and popes — and of revolutionaries and Reformers — tells the story of a Europe in transition. In the Catholic south, Baroque bubbled over with fanciful decoration and exuberant emotion. In the Protestant north, art was more sober and austere. And in France, the excesses of godlike kings gave way to revolution, Napoleon, and cerebral Neoclassicism.
More to Explore from Rick Steves' Europe
As the Ice Age glaciers melted, European civilization was born—and with it, so was art. From the Stone Age came prehistoric art: mysterious tombs, mighty megaliths, and vivid cave paintings. Then the Egyptians and the Greeks laid the foundations of Western art—creating a world of magical gods, massive pyramids, sun-splashed temples, and ever-more-lifelike statues.
After Rome fell, Europe spent a thousand years in its Middle Ages. Its art shows how the light of civilization flickered in monasteries and on Europe’s fringes: Christian Byzantium, Moorish Spain, and pagan Vikings. Then, around A.D. 1000, Europe rebounded. The High Middle Ages brought majestic castles, radiant Gothic cathedrals, and exquisite art that dazzled the faithful and the secular alike.
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