The church had fallen under negative scrutiny during the fourteenth century and was marked by material excesses by church leaders while oppressing the lower clergy. Humanism and the Renaissance ideas were cultivated in Rome and their perceived abuses became the target of newly empowered city-states. The decline of papal power and material corruption of the church during the 14th and 15th centuries set the stage for the first severe blow to the church, the papal schism in 1378 (Kirsch 1911). However, the most popular symbolic blow came when Martin Luther nailed the Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church in 1517 (Bates 1999, Luther 1915). The Theses called for a dramatic overhaul of the church and began the Reformation.
The Counter-Reformation is the period of "Catholic revival from the pontificate of Pope Pius IV in 1560 to the close of the Thirty Years War, 1648" (Pollen 1908). During this period the church tried to rebuke the Lutherans and Protestants for their stand on the subservience of Church to State, the marriage of the clergy, and doctrinal error (Pollen 1908). However, the church underwent little fundamental change, did not alter the State constitutions, or generate any great enthusiasm by its members.
One noticeable change the church underwent was the portrayal of its visual arts. The church had moved away from art dominated by religious figures and had begun to portray man as the center of spiritualism as in Michelangelos Creation of Adam circa 1500. Reformers believed this elevated man to a state of spiritual arrogance and wanted art to represent only religious figures. The church did do some movement back toward commissioning strictly religious art during the Counter-Reformation (Nosotro 2005).
The Reformation movement, against the humanist movement, did not portray only divinity in their art as one might expect. According to