Between the mid-sixteenth century and the mid-eighteenth century, Europe and the rest of the world went through significant changes. During this time, Europeans were engaged in the “Age of Exploration”—they sent out fleets of ships into the world’s oceans with various goals, including competition between one another for political domination, economic expansion, and religious conversion of the people in the so-called “New World.” In Europe, the Thirty Years War raged on from 1618 to 1648, forever shifting power on the continent, and weakening the Holy Roman Empire. Many significant scientific discoveries also took place during the baroque period, including Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity. Philosophy was impacted by Descartes’ revolutionary statement, “I think, therefore I am,” making him the “Father of Modern Philosophy.”
Italian artists Leonardo da Vinci and Tintoretto both painted the Last Supper, but their styles represent two distinct movements. The balanced and symmetrical scene by da Vinci (above) reflects the values of the Italian Renaissance, while the strong diagonals and sharp contrasts between dark and light tones painted by Tintoretto, in 1594, are hallmarks of the baroque.