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This is my first AP Euro FRQ. I compared it to essays on AP Central, and I'd give it about a 5, but would like your input, as well :) Thanks!
Prompt: Compare and contrast the relationship between the artist and society in the Renaissance/Reformation period to the relationship between the artist and society in the late 19th century.
Whilst artists of the Renaissance and Reformation were oftentimes commissioned by popes and aristocrats and thus sought to depict overt, beautiful pictures of glory, and artists of the late 19th century received money from their followers and thus sought to depict society in its bleak truth, both attempted to influence their audience through messages found solely in art.
The Renaissance period was in many ways a golden age for art. With the rise of the nation-state, rulers began to see the value of art as a powerful means of persuasion. Most artists received their commissions from aristocrats and popes attempting to intimidate, impress, and enchant their visitors, and from such an influence arose the baroque style of art: highly overt, colorful, and glorious. Artists such as Michelangelo, who received generous commissions from Pope Julius II, created such splendid, ethereal, and religious works as David and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel as a way to impress and captivate followers of the Catholic Church (and, undoubtedly, as a means to intimidate followers of the Protestant Reformation).
At the same time, there was a sense of discovery in the Renaissance, and a newfound love of the classical writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The humanist program of study could typically only be afforded by aristocrats and the rising merchant class, and, as these people sought to boast of their might through the commission of art (the Medicis of Florence are well-known for this clever tactic), we have works such as School of Athens by Raphael, which depicts a beautiful blend of Christian subject and classical ideals.
In the late 1800s, however, there was a sense of disillusionment with the increasingly industrialized world. Whilst Renaissance painters sought to create a "window into the world", artists of the late 19th century began to attempt to have their viewers stop at the canvas and seek a deeper meaning. As 19th century painters received payment primarily through their audience, they sought to depict life as it really was, in an attempt to awaken people from the trance of Romanticism. Such efforts can be seen in Vincent van Gogh's earlier works, such as the Potato Eaters and Edvard Munch's The Scream. Artists such as Francois Millet, who knew first hand the drudgery of peasant life, sought to break the Romantic movement's glorification of simple agrarianism by depicting peasant life in all its bleak, harsh truth.
Despite their differences in inspiration, both Renaissance and 19th century painters strove to influence their audiences into pursuing certain actions. Eugene Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People reflects the fervent nationalism of his era, whilst the beautiful woodcuts of Albrecht Durer convinced many to join the Protestant cause.
Thanks for reading! I think the primary faults with this essay were the lack of discussion of literature, the lack of coverage of 19th century artists' bleak lives in comparison to Renaissance artists, and how I completely forgot to mention photography in the late 19th century.