By the mid-seventeenth century, the style we have come to call Baroque was in full flower. The Baroque era in art was a manifestation of seventeenth-century life. It was expressed in different ways in different regions. The Baroque was the child of the Renaissance and was in part the result of a religious crisis brought about by the Renaissance emphasis on beauty and humanity:
It did not raise hopes of eternity nor promise everlasting glory to the poor to compensate for their earthly lot. The limitation of its message partly explains why the religious crisis came to a head, leading both to the birth of Protestantism and to the efforts of the Catholic Church to reorganize itself as the Council of Trent. Baroque. . . became the interpreter of the Catholic Church. . .
Certain of the issues of the time were addressed by various artists in works that were considered controversial. One of the concerns addressed in various works was the nature of prostitution, the prevalence of the brothel, and the possibility of buying love. The Church reasserted certain moral prerogatives in the post-Renaissance era and tried to impose a certain moral restraint on art, criticizing and proscribing the depiction of the nude, for instance. In Protestant countries such as the Dutch Netherlands, the actions of the Catholic Church did not have the same impact. Depictions of certain subjects could still be controversial, however, and often the meaning was hidden in symbolism and other devices.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Dutch had repelled the Spanish invaders and the States-General had established their religious and political independence from Philip II of Spain. This was a period of great prosperity in Dutch history. The Dutch Bourgeoisie, with increased wealth and power, had the time and the money to enjoy the pleasures of life which the class had avoided in leaner times. This meant that the Dutch burgher wanted mor...