In the first half of the sixteenth century, Western Europe experiences a wide range of social, artistic, and political changes as the result of a conflict within the Catholic church. This conflict is called the Protestant Reformation, and the catholic response to it is called the Counter Reformation or Catholic Reformation. This severe religious event influences the art of the Europe. Two kinds of aspects appear by different ideologies.
Protestant reformers reject the use of visual arts in the church strictly, so artists begin to create small images for personal use. Moreover, the subjects of art-works are changed. Artists start to draw the common people and nature itself. Then, the subject matters are developed to landscape, still life and scenes of daily life. For example, Allegory of Earth of Jan Brueghel is small and has the nature subject matter. In addition, the plain churches of the north Europe get affected. For instance, stain glass windows are broken, and pipe organs are removed from churches.
In contrast, the Catholic churches respond to the Protestant reformation with an exuberant style of art and architecture called the Baroque. The Baroque is in ideological opposition to Protestant severity. The theatrical and dramatic designs of Saint Peter and the Gesu in Rome are a triumphant symbol of the Roman Catholic Church's belief in itself and its history. Most art-works of the Baroque are really magnificent and gorgeous. For example, Annibale Carracci's ceiling fresco is huge and splendid.
Finally, the Reformation affected the art of the sixteenth century in Western Europe. It is divided into the naivety of Protestantism and the magnificence of Catholicism by conflicting concepts. Not until the eighteenth century will there be an effective attempt to resolve this dichotomy.