Prior to the 15th century European art had changed very little in hundreds of years. Then, over the course of the 15th - 17th centuries it took two strides forward as two new styles of art developed; Renaissance and Baroque.
The Renaissance (literally 're-birth') is said to have begun around 1400 when artists drew inspiration from classical antiquity and merged it with new developments in technology and learning. Helped by the development of the printing press, over the next 100 years Renaissance art and culture spread throughout Europe, taking on slightly different characteristics as it travelled. This spread of new ideas marked the end of the middle ages and the beginning of the modern age.
In the 17th century Baroque art developed from that of the Renaissance. Differing from the calm and rational outlook of Renaissance art, that of the Baroque is noted for its drama, showing the most exciting or emotional moment of a scene. For example, Renaissance artist Michelangelo shows David deep in thought before he fights Goliath, whereas Baroque artist Bernini shows the moment when David hurls his stone at the giant.
Two different styles of art - a complement to one another, and both a huge leap forward from the art of medieval Europe.