artist canvas


In the arts, Baroque (or baroque) is both a period and the artistic style that dominated it. The Baroque style used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, and music. The style started around 1600 in Rome, Italy and spread to most of Europe. In music, the Baroque applies to the final period of dominance of imitative counterpoint. (The name adapted a French adjective that is derived from the Portuguese noun "barroco"; both described a pearl of irregular shape. Some confusion can occur in using for the period and style the lower-cased version "baroque", which can instead mean merely "elaborate" [or especially "overly elaborate"] without implying connection to the period.) The popularity and success of the "Baroque" was encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church when it decided that the drama of the Baroque artists' style could communicate religious themes in direct and emotional involvement. The secular aristocracy also saw the dramatic style of Baroque architecture and art as a means of impressing visitors and would-be competitors. Baroque palaces are built round an entrance sequence of courts, anterooms, grand staircases, and reception rooms of sequentially increasing magnificence. Many forms of art, music, architecture, and literature inspired each other in the "Baroque" cultural movement.

Evolution of the Baroque

In recent history, western European civilizations have faced three critical questions (in chronological order): Which religion to follow; which government to uphold; and how to bring equality to everyone. The matter of religion was resolved after Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others initiated a Protestant Reformation that gave many European monarchs an excuse to become more independent from The Holy Roman Empire. This led to a Counter Reformation by the Roman Catholic Church which included a push for new forms of art that exalted the Church's holy position. Beginning around the year 1600, the demands for new art resulted in what is now known as the Baroque. The canon promulgated at the Council of Trent (1545–63), by which the Roman Catholic Church addressed the representational arts by demanding that paintings and sculptures in church contexts should speak to the illiterate rather than to the well-informed, is customarily offered as an inspiration of the Baroque, which appeared, however, a generation later. This turn toward a populist conception of the function of ecclesiastical art is seen by many art historians as driving the innovations of Caravaggio and the Carracci brothers, all of whom were working (and competing for commissions) in Rome at that time. The appeal of Baroque style turned consciously from the witty, intellectual qualities of 16th century Mannerist art to a visceral appeal aimed at the senses. It employed an iconography that was direct, simple, obvious, and dramatic (see the Prometheus sculpture below). Baroque art drew on certain broad and heroic tendencies in Annibale Carracci and his circle, and found inspiration in other artists like Correggio and Caravaggio and Federico Barocci, nowadays sometimes termed 'proto-Baroque'. Germinal ideas of the Baroque can also be found in the work of Michelangelo. Some general parallels in music make the expression "Baroque music" useful. Contrasting phrase lengths, harmony and counterpoint ousted polyphony, and orchestral color made a stronger appearance. (See Baroque music.) Similar fascination with simple, strong, dramatic expression in poetry, where clear, broad syncopated rhythms replaced the enknotted elaborated metaphysical similes employed by Mannerists such as John Donne and imagery that was strongly influenced by visual developments in painting, can be sensed in John Milton's Paradise Lost, a Baroque epic. Though Baroque was superseded in many centers by the Rococo style, beginning in France in the late 1720s, especially for interiors, paintings and the decorative arts, Baroque architecture remained a viable style until the advent of Neoclassicism in the later 18th century. See the Neapolitan palace of Caserta, a Baroque palace (though in a chaste exterior) that was not even begun until 1752. Critics have given up talking about a "Baroque period." In paintings, Baroque gestures are broader than Mannerist gestures: less ambiguous, less arcane and mysterious, more like the stage gestures of opera, a major Baroque artform. Baroque poses depend on contrapposto ("counterpoise"), the tension within the figures that moves the planes of shoulders and hips in counterdirections. See Bernini's David (below, left). The dryer, chastened, less dramatic and coloristic, later stages of 18th century Baroque architectural style are often seen as a separate Late Baroque manifestation. (See Claude Perrault.) Academic characteristics in the neo-Palladian architectural style, epitomized by William Kent, are a parallel development in Britain and the British colonies: within doors, Kent's furniture designs are vividly influenced by the Baroque furniture of Rome and Genoa, hieratic tectonic sculptural elements meant never to be moved from their positions completing the wall elevation. Baroque is a style of unity imposed upon rich and massy detail. The Baroque was defined by Heinrich W?lfflin as the age where the oval replaced the circle as the center of composition, centralization replaced balance, and coloristic and "painterly" effects began to become more prominent. Art historians, often Protestant ones, have traditionally emphasized that the Baroque style evolved during a time in which the Roman Catholic Church had to react against the many revolutionary cultural movements that produced a new science and new forms of religion—the Reformation. It has been said that the monumental Baroque is a style that could give the Papacy, like secular absolute monarchies, a formal, imposing way of expression that could restore its prestige, at the point of becoming somehow symbolic of the Catholic Reformation. Whether this is the case or not, it was successfully developed in Rome, where Baroque architecture widely renewed the central areas with perhaps the most important urbanistic revision during this period of time.

Baroque art

Baroque art is the painting and sculpture associated with the Baroque cultural movement, a movement often identified with Absolutism and the Counter Reformation; the existence of important Baroque art and architecture in non-absolutist and Protestant states, however, undercuts this linking.


The Council of Trent (1545-63), in which the Roman Catholic Church answered many questions of internal reform raised by both Protestants and by those who had remained inside the Catholic Church, addressed the representational arts by demanding that paintings and sculptures in church contexts should speak to the illiterate rather than to the well-informed. Due to this Baroque art tends to focus on Saints, the Virgin Mary, and other well known bible stories. This turn toward a populist conception of the function of ecclesiastical art is seen by many art historians as driving the innovations of Caravaggio and the Carracci brothers, all of whom were working (and competing for commissions) in Rome around 1600. Baroque art is characterized by great drama, rich deep color, and intense light and dark shadows. As opposed to Renaissance art, which usually showed the moment before an event took place, Baroque artists chose the most dramatic point, the moment when the action was occurring: Michelangelo, working in the High Renaissance, shows his David composed and still before he battles Goliath; Bernini's baroque David is caught in the act of hurling the stone at the giant. Baroque art was meant to evoke emotion and passion instead of the calm rationality that had been prized during the Renaissance.

Baroque illusionistic painting

The complex and ambitious Italian tradition of illusionistic painting applied the Renaissance confidence in handling perspective to projects for ceilings and overcame the problems of applying linear perspective to the concave surfaces of domes in order to dissolve the architecture and create illusions of limitless space. Painted and patterned ceilings were a Gothic tradition in Italy as elsewhere, but the first ceiling painted to feign open space, was created by Andrea Mantegna a master of perspective who went to Mantua as court painter to the Gonzaga. His masterpiece was a series of frescoes that culminated in 1474 in the Camera degli Sposi (bridal chamber) of the Ducal Palace. In these works, he carried the art of illusionistic perspective to new limits. He frescoed the walls with illusionistic scenes of court life, while the ceiling appeared as if it were an oculus open to the sky, with servants, a peacock, and cherubs leaning over a balustrade, seen in strongly foreshortened perspective from below—di sotto in su. This was the prototype of illusionistic ceiling painting that was to become an important element of Italian baroque. Correggio at Parma took the illusionistic ceiling a step farther in his frescos of Christ and the Apostles for the cupola at the San Giovanni Evangelista and in the Assumption of the Virgin in the dome of the cathedral of Parma, which is Correggio's most famous work (1520–24); in these frescos Correggio treats the entire surface as the vast and frameless vault of heaven in which the figures float. Clouds and figures protrude into the realm of architecture where the spectator stands.

Roman times

In Rome, the long-standing tradition of frescoed ceilings received a push from the grand projects in Palazzo Farnese under the guidance of Annibale Caracci and his team, but the figural subjects were still enclosed within multiple framed compartments, and the perspective of subjects seen from below was not consistently taken into consideration. From 1625 to 1627 Giovanni Lanfranco, a native of Parma who knew Correggio's dome, painted the enormous dome of the church of Sant' Andrea della Valle with an Assumption of the Virgin that overwhelmed contemporary spectators with its exuberant illusionistic effects and became one of the first high baroque masterpieces. Lanfranco's work in Rome (1613-1630) and in Naples (1634-1646) was fundamental to the development of illusionism in Italy. Pietro Berrettini, called Pietro da Cortona, developed the illusionistic ceiling fresco to an extraordinary degree in works such as the ceiling (1633-1639) of the gran salone of Palazzo Barberini. From 1676 to 1679 Giovanni Battista Gaulli, called Baciccio, painted an Adoration of the Name of Jesus on the ceiling of the Church of the Ges?, the Jesuit headquarters in Rome. From 1691 to 1694 Andrea Pozzo painted the Entrance of Saint Ignatius into Paradise for the ceiling of Sant' Ignazio, Rome, with theatricality and emotion.

Baroque sculpture

In Baroque sculpture, groups of figures assumed new importance, and there was a dynamic movement and energy of human forms— they spiralled around an empty central vortex, or reached outwards into the surrounding space. For the first time, Baroque sculpture often had multiple ideal viewing angles. The characteristic Baroque sculpture added extra-sculptural elements, for example, concealed lighting, or water fountains. The architecture, sculpture and fountains of Bernini (1598–1680) give highly-charged characteristics of Baroque style. Bernini was undoubtedly the most important sculptor of the Baroque period. He approached Michelangelo in his omnicompetence: Bernini sculpted, worked as an architect, painted, wrote plays, and staged spectacles. In the late 20th century Bernini was most valued for his sculpture, both for his virtuosity in carving marble and his ability to create figures that combine the physical and the spiritual. He was also a fine sculptor of bust portraits in high demand among the powerful.

Bernini's Cornaro chapel: the complete work of art

A good example of Bernini's work that helps us understand the Baroque is his St. Theresa in Ecstasy (1645–52), created for the Cornaro Chapel of the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome. Bernini designed the entire chapel, a subsidiary space along the side of the church, for the Cornaro family. He had, in essence, a brick box shaped something like a proscenium stage space with which to work. Saint Theresa, the focal point of the chapel, is a monochromatic marble statue (a soft white) surrounded by a polychromatic marble architectural framing concealing a window to light the statue from above. In shallow relief, sculpted figure-groups of the Cornaro family inhabit in opera boxes along the two side walls of the chapel. The setting places the viewer as a spectator in front of the statue with the Cornaro family leaning out of their box seats and craning forward to see the mystical ecstasy of the saint. St. Theresa is highly idealized in detail and in an imaginary setting. St. Theresa of Avila, a popular saint of the Catholic Reformation, wrote narratives of her mystical experiences aimed at the nuns of her Carmelite Order; these writings had become popular reading among lay people interested in pursuing spirituality. She once described the love of God as piercing her heart like a burning arrow. Bernini literalizes this image by placing St. Theresa on a cloud in a reclining pose; what can only be described as a Cupid figure holds a golden arrow (the arrow is made of metal) and smiles down at her. The angelic figure is not preparing to plunge the arrow into her heart— rather, he has withdrawn it. St. Theresa's face reflects not the anticipation of ecstasy, but her current fulfillment, which can only be described as orgasmic. The blending of religious and erotic was intensely offensive to both neoclassical restraint and, later, to Victorian prudishness; it is part of the genius of the Baroque. Bernini, who in life and writing was a devout Catholic, is not attempting to satirize the experience of a chaste nun, but to embody in marble a complex truth about religious experience— that it is an experience that takes place in the body. Theresa described her bodily reaction to spiritual enlightenment in a language of ecstasy used by many mystics, and Bernini's depiction is earnest. The Cornaro family promotes itself discreetly in this chapel; they are represented visually, but are placed on the sides of the chapel, witnessing the event from balconies. As in an opera house, the Cornaro have a privileged position in respect to the viewer, in their private reserve, closer to the saint; the viewer, however, has a better view from the front. They attach their name to the chapel, but St. Theresa is the focus. It is a private chapel in the sense that no one could say mass on the altar beneath the statue (in 17th century and probably through the 19th) without permission from the family, but the only thing that divides the viewer from the image is the altar rail. The spectacle functions both as a demonstration of mysticism and as a piece of family pride.

Baroque architecture

Baroque architecture, starting in the early 17th century in Italy, took the humanist Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical, theatrical, sculptural fashion, expressing the triumph of absolutist church and state. New architectural concerns for color, light and shade, sculptural values and intensity characterize the Baroque.

Precursors and features of Baroque architecture

Michelangelo's late Roman buildings, particularly St. Peter's Basilica, may be considered precursors of baroque architecture, as the design of the latter achieves a colossal unity that was previously unknown. His pupil Giacomo della Porta continued this work in Rome, particularly in the facade of the Jesuit church Il Gesu, which leads directly to the most important church facade of the early baroque, Santa Susanna by Carlo Maderno. In the 17th century, the baroque style spread through Europe and Latin America, where it was particularly promoted by the Jesuits. Important features of baroque architecture include:

  • long, narrow naves are replaced by broader, occasionally circular forms
  • dramatic use of light, either strong light-and-shade contrasts, chiaroscuro effects (e.g. church of Weltenburg Abbey), or uniform lighting by means of several windows (e.g. church of Weingarten Abbey)
  • opulent use of ornaments (puttos made of wood (often gilded), plaster or stucco, marble or faux marbling)
  • large-scale ceiling frescoes
  • the external facade is often characterized by a dramatic central projection
  • the interior is often no more than a shell for painting and sculpture (especially in the late baroque)
  • illusory effects like trompe l'oeil and the blending of painting and architecture
  • in the Bavarian, Czech, Polish, and Ukrainian baroque, pear domes are ubiquitous

In Italy and France

The sacred architecture of the baroque was mainly influenced by Italy, especially Rome and the paradigm of the basilica with crossed dome and nave. The centre of baroque secular architecture was France, where the open three wing layout of the palace was established as the canonical solution as early as the 16th century. But it was the Palais du Luxembourg (built 1615-1620) by Salomon de Brosse that established the paradigm of baroque architecture. For the first time, the Corps des Logis was emphasized as the representative main part of the building, while the side wings were lower. The tower has been completely replaced by the central projection. The next step of development was the integration of the gardens in the composition of the palace, as is exemplified by Vaux-le-Vicomte (built 1656 - 1661) near Paris, where the architect Louis Le Vau and the gardener Andr? Le N?tre complemented each other. The same two artists scaled this concept to monumental proportions in the royal hunting lodge and later main residence of Palace of Versailles (extended 1661 - 1690). Versailles was the model of many other European residences including Mannheim, Nordkirchen, and Caserta, among others.

In Central Europe

In Central Europe, the baroque period began somewhat later. Although the Augsburg architect Elias Holl (1573 - 1646) and some theoretists, including Joseph Furttenbach the Elder already practised the baroque style, they remained without successors due to the ravages of the Thirty Years' War. From about 1650 on, construction work resumes, and secular and ecclesiastical architecture are of equal importance. During an initial phase, master-masons from southern Switzerland and northern Italy, the so-called magistri Grigioni and the Lombard master-masons, particularly the Carlone family from Val d'Intelvi, dominated the field. However, Austria came soon to develop its own characteristic baroque style during the last third of the seventeenth century. Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach was impressed by Bernini. He forged a new Imperial style by compiling architectural motifs from the entire history, most prominently seen in his church of St. Charles Borromeo in Vienna. Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt also had an Italian training. He developed a highly decorative style, particularly in facade architecture, which exerted strong influences on southern Germany. Frequently, the Southern German baroque is distinguished from the Northern German baroque, which is more properly the distinction between the Catholic and the Protestant baroque. In the Catholic South, the Jesuit church of St. Michael in Munich was the first to bring Italian style across the Alps. However, its influence on the further development of church architecture was rather limited. A much more practical and more adaptable model of church architecture was provided by the Jesuit church in Dillingen (1610-17): the wall-pillar church, i.e. a barrel-vaulted nave accompanied by large open chapels separated by wall-pillars. As opposed to St. Michael's in Munich, the chapels almost reach the height of the nave in the wall-pillar church, and their vault (usually transverse barrel-vaults) springs from the same level as the main vault of the nave. The chapels provide ample lighting; seen from the entrance of the church, the wall-pillars form a theatrical setting for the side altars. The wall-pillar church was further developed by the Vorarlberg school, as well as the master-masons of Bavaria. The wall-pillar church also integrated well with the "hall" church model of the German late Gothic age. The wall-pillar church continued to be used throughout the eighteenth century (e.g., even in the early neo-classical church of Rot a der Rot), and early wall-pillar churches could easily be refurbished by re-decoration without any structural changes, e.g., the church at Dillingen. However, the Catholic South also received influences from other sources, e.g., the so-called radical baroque of Bohemia. The radical baroque of Christoph Dientzenhofer and his son Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, both residing at Prague, was inspired by examples from northern Italy, particularly by the works of Guarino Guarini. It is characterized by the curvature of walls and intersection of oval spaces. While some Bohemian influence is visible in Bavaria's most prominent architect of the period, Johann Michael Fischer, e.g., in the curved balconies of some of his earlier wall-pillar churches, the works of Balthasar Neumann are generally considered to be the final synthesis of Bohemian and German traditions. Protestant sacred architecture was of lesser importance during the baroque, and produced only a few works of prime importance, particularly the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Architectural theory was more lively in the north than in the south of Germany, e.g., Leonhard Christoph Sturm's edition of Nikolaus Goldmann, but Sturm's theoretical considerations (e.g., on Protestant church architecture) never really made it to practical application. In the south, theory essentially reduced to the use of buildings and elements from illustrated books and engravings as a prototype. Palace architecture was equally important both in the Catholic South and the Protestant North. After an initial phase when Italian architects and influences dominated (Vienna, Rastatt), French influence prevailed from the second decennium of the eighteenth century onwards. The French model is characterized by the horseshoe-like layout enclosing a cour d'honneur (courtyard) on the town side (chateau entre cour et jardin), whereas the Italian (and also Austrian) scheme presents a block-like villa. The principal achievements of German Palace architecture, often worked out in close collaboration of several architects, provide a synthesis of Austro-Italian and French models. The most outstanding palace which blends Austro-Italian and French influences into a completely new type of building is the residence at W?rzburg. While its general layout is the horseshoe-like French plan, it encloses interior courtyards. Its facades combine Lucas von Hildebrandt's love of decoration with French-style classical orders in two superimposed stories; its interior features the famous Austrian "imperial staircase", but also a French-type enfilade of rooms on the garden side, inspired by the "appartement semi-double" layout of French castles.

In Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

The first baroque church in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the Corpus Christi Church in Niasvizh, Belarus (1587). It also holds a distinction of being the first domed basilica with Baroque facade in the world and the first baroque piece of art in Eastern Europe. In the early 17th century, the Baroque style spread over the Commonwealth. Important baroque churches include the Waza Chapel in the Wawel Cathedral, the SS. Peter and Paul, St. Anna and the Wizytek church in Krak?w, SS. Peter and St. Paul church, St Casimir's Chapel and St Casimir's Church in Vilnius, Pa?aislis monastery in Kaunas the Dominican and St George Church in Lw?w, the Jesuit church in Pozna?, the Xavier cathedral in Hrodno, the Royal Chapel in Gda?sk, and last but not least the ?wi?ta Lipka in Masuria. In Warsaw, which before WW2 was filled with Baroque residences, churches and houses, and where Tylman van Gameren was active, survived few important buildings - Wilan?w Palace, Krasi?ski Palace, Bernardines church in Czerniak?w and Late-baroque Wizytek church. Architects such as Jan Krzysztoff Glaubitz were instrumental in forming the so-called distinctive "Vilnius Baroque" style, which spread throughout the region. By the end of the century, Polish baroque influences crossed the Dnieper into the Cossack Hetmanate, where they gave birth to a particular style of Orthodox architecture, known as the Cossack baroque. Such was its popular appeal that every medieval church in Kiev and the Left-Bank Ukraine was redesigned according to the newest fashion.

In England and Russia

In England the culmination of Baroque architecture comes with Sir Christopher Wren, Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor. Many examples of Baroque architecture and town planning are found in other European towns, and in the Spanish Americas. Town planning of this period featured radiating avenues intersecting in squares, which took cues from Baroque garden plans. In Russia, the baroque architecture passed through three stages - the early Moscow baroque, with elegant white decorations on red-brick walls of rather traditional churches, the mature Petrine baroque, mostly imported from Low Countries, and the late Rastrelliesque baroque, in the words of William Brumfield, "extravagant in design and execution, yet ordered by the rhythmic insistence of massed columns and baroque statuary."

In Northern America: Mexico and California

Plateresque and Churrigueresque Baroque in Mexico: The baroque in Mexico derives from Plateresque and Churrigueresque architecture. Late fifteenth-century Plateresque freely borrowed the decorative motifs of the intricately detailed work of silversmiths, the “Plateros.” In the seventeeth century, after the restrained Juan de Herrera interlude, decorated architecture in Spain reached an apotheosis in the exuberant —some would say capricious— Churrigueresque baroque, named after the Churriguera, a family chiefly known in its day for the design of altars. Characteristic of both the Plateresque and Churrigueresque are the elaborate frontispieces that are then applied to an otherwise flat facade. The architectural elements in these decorations, columns, entablatures, pediments et al play a purely decorative role. With the Plateresque and Churriguerresque, Spain’s Gothic moment, based like all Gothic on structural purism, met its end. The Spaniards eventually exported their decorated architecture to Southern Italy and to their colonies in the Americas. In the 18th century the Churrigueresque set roots in Mexico, while a native brand of Plateresque, the Mexican Plateresque, less exact in the carving of ornamental details than its Spanish forebear, emerged. Being Mexico the most important colony of the New Spain, the trend of this Mexican Churrigueresque and Plateresque Baroque style in architecture would come to define Spanish Colonial architecture in North America with grand buildings masterfully carved, specially visible in the rich silver mining towns and the grand capital: Mexico City. This trend even included few, but much more humble and simplistic works of the small California Missions in the United States, when its territory still belonged to Mexico.

Conclusion for Baroque Architecture

In Baroque architecture, new emphasis was placed on bold massing, colonnades, domes, light-and-shade (chiaroscuro), 'painterly' color effects, and the bold play of volume and void. In interiors, Baroque movement around and through a void informed monumental staircases that had no parallel in previous architecture. The other Baroque innovation in worldly interiors was the state apartment, a processional sequence of increasingly rich interiors that culminated in a presence chamber or throne room or a state bedroom. The sequence of monumental stair followed by state apartment was copied in smaller scale everywhere in aristocratic dwellings of any pretensions. Baroque architecture was taken up with enthusiasm in central Germany (see e.g. Ludwigsburg Palace and Zwinger Dresden), Austria and Poland (see e.g. Wilanow and Bialystok Palaces). In England the culmination of Baroque architecture was embodied in work by Sir Christopher Wren, Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, from ca. 1660 to ca. 1725. Many examples of Baroque architecture and town planning are found in other European towns, and in the Spanish Americas. Town planning of this period featured radiating avenues intersecting in squares, which took cues from Baroque garden plans.

Baroque theater and dance

In theater, the elaborate conceits, multiplicity of plot turns, and variety of situations characteristic of Mannerism (Shakespeare's tragedies, for instance) are superseded by opera, which drew together all the arts in a unified whole. Dance was popular in the Baroque era.

Baroque literature and philosophy

Baroque actually expressed new values, which often are summarized in the use of metaphor and allegory, widely found in Baroque literature, and in the research for the "maraviglia" (wonder, astonishment — as in Marinism), the use of artifices. If Mannerism was a first breach with Renaissance, Baroque was an opposed language. The psychological pain of Man -- a theme disbanded after the Copernican and the Lutheran revolutions in search of solid anchors, a proof of an "ultimate human power" -- was to be found in both the art and architecture of the Baroque period. A relevant part of works was made on religious themes, since the Roman Church was the main "customer." Virtuosity was researched by artists (and the virtuoso became a common figure in any art) together with realism and care for details (some talk of a typical "intricacy"). The privilege given to external forms had to compensate and balance the lack of content that has been observed in many Baroque works: Marino's "Maraviglia", for example, is practically made of the pure, mere form. Fantasy and imagination should be evoked in the spectator, in the reader, in the listener. All was focused around the individual Man, as a straight relationship between the artist, or directly the art and its user, its client. Art is then less distant from user, more directly approaching him, solving the cultural gap that used to keep art and user reciprocally far, by Maraviglia. But the increased attention to the individual, also created in these schemes some important genres like the Romanzo (novel) and let popular or local forms of art, especially dialectal literature, to be put into evidence. In Italy this movement toward the single individual (that some define a "cultural descent", while others indicate it was a possible cause for the classical opposition to Baroque) caused Latin to be definitely replaced by Italian. In English literature, the metaphysical poets represent a closely related movement; their poetry likewise sought unusual metaphors, which they then examined in often extensive detail. Their verse also manifests a taste for paradox, and deliberately inventive and unusual turns of phrase.

Baroque music

The term Baroque also is used to designate the style of music composed during a period that overlaps with that of Baroque art, but usually encompasses a slightly later period. J.S. Bach and G.F. Handel are often considered its culminating figures. It is a still-debated question as to what extent Baroque music shares aesthetic principles with the visual and literary arts of the Baroque period. A fairly clear, shared element is a love of ornamentation, and it is perhaps significant that the role of ornament was greatly diminished in both music and architecture as the Baroque gave way to the Classical period. It should be noted that the application of the term "Baroque" to music is a relatively recent development: the first use of the word to apply to music was only in 1919, by Curt Sachs, and it was not until 1940 that it was first used in English (in a published article by Manfred Bukofzer); even as late as 1960 there was still considerable dispute in academic circles over whether music as diverse as that by Peri, Couperin and J.S. Bach could be meaningfully bundled together with a single term. Opera was born during the Baroque era out of the experimentation of the Florentine Camerata, the creators of monody, who attempted to recreate the theatrical arts of the ancient Greeks; indeed it is exactly that development which is often used to denote the beginning of the musical Baroque, around 1600.

Typical Instruments:

  • Baroque violin
  • Viola d'amore
  • Viola da gamba
  • Harpsichord
Examples of typical Baroque music
  • Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), The Art of Fugue
  • Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741), L'Estro Armonico
  • Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757), Sonatas for Cembalo or Harpsichord
  • George Friedrich Handel (1685–1759), Water Music Suite for Orchestra
  • Georg Philipp Telemann (1681 - 1767), Der Tag des Gerichts The Day of Judgement (1762)

The term "Baroque"

The word "Baroque", like most period or stylistic designations, was invented by later critics rather than practitioners of the arts in the 17th and early 18th centuries. It is a French translation of the Portuguese word "Barroco" (meaning an irregular pearl, or false jewel—notably, an ancient similar word, "Barlocco" or "Brillocco", is used in Roman dialect for the same meaning—and natural pearls that deviate from the usual, regular forms so they do not have an axis of rotation are known as "baroque pearls"). Alternatively, it may derive from the now obsolete Italian "Baroco" (meaning, in logical Scholastica, a syllogism with weak content). A common definition, before the term Barocco was used, called this genre simply the style of The Flying Forms. The term "Baroque" was initially used with a derogatory meaning, to underline the excesses of its emphasis, of its eccentric redundancy, its noisy abundance of details, as opposed to the clearer and sober rationality of the Renaissance. It was first rehabilitated by the Swiss-born art historian, Heinrich W?lfflin (1864–1945) in his Renaissance und Barock (1888); W?lfflin identified the Baroque as "movement imported into mass," an art antithetic to Renaissance art. He did not make the distinctions between Mannerism and Baroque that modern writers do, and he ignored the later phase, the academic Baroque that lasted into the 18th century. Writers in French and English did not begin to treat Baroque as a respectable study until W?lfflin's influence had made German scholarship pre-eminent. In modern usage, the term "Baroque" may still be used, usually pejoratively, to describe works of art, craft, or design that are thought to have excessive ornamentation or complexity of line, or, as a synonym for "Byzantine", to describe literature, computer programs, contracts, or laws that are thought to be excessively complex, indirect, or obscure in language, to the extent of concealing or confusing their meaning. A "Baroque fear" is deeply felt, but utterly beyond daily reality.

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