Now let us glide over to Italy and Flanders to study the art which was being produced there during this time. Italy and Flanders remained Catholic after the schism of the Reformation, and they were a leading center for the Counter Reformation, which was an effort by the Catholic Church to lure people back to regain its former power. We have already been seeing this. Murillo's Return of the Prodigal Son as well as even Velàzquez's Surrender of Breda are works exemplifying the style and tone of the Catholic Church's Counter Reformation. This type of artwork supported the Catholic Church and discouraged heresy. The church sought the newest and best artists to bring people back. Many artists were sent to Rome to create these works that would restore the religious spirit in the Western world. And so we look to Rome, Italy, and Flanders to observe what was really the headquarters of the Counter Reformation. We already looked at a couple or more works from there when we looked at Mannerism.
The art of this time, as we know, was characterized by more action, increased excitement, vivid, dramatic lighting effects of contrasting lights and darks, and motion and emotion; however, the architecture also underwent stylistic changes. The Roman church Il Gesú features huge, sculptured scrolls which magnificently exemplify Baroque style. The Baroque period had a distinct architectural style. It introduced convex and concave push and pull. The interests were in movement, contrast, and variety. It contained great importance of feelings expressed, and it brilliantly captured drama. It has been said that Baroque art did not so much focus on beauty. In actuality, the artists overwhelmed and quite possibly confused their viewers with a blended world that mixed reality and imaginary imagery. This is the façade of the building (a façade is simply the front of any cathedral structure).