What was the baroque art movement?

The Triumph of the Immaculate by Paolo de Matteis, a painting made during the Baroque art movement

Baroque art began in Rome, Italy, in the early 17th century and has remained a prevalent style for over a century. Baroque art was a dramatic and grandiose style that was incorporated into various disciplines such as architecture, music, painting, and sculpture. The popularity of art gave rise to a movement that spread throughout most of Europe.

5. Overview of the baroque style

Baroque art was exuberant and dramatic, and it incorporated precise detail and exaggerated movement in the disciplines of painting, sculpture, music, dance, and architecture. The Baroque style was designed to appeal to the senses and used direct, dramatic and obvious iconography. The most common technique in the Baroque style is the chiaroscuro stroke, which uses the interplay between darkness and light to form a highly contrasting and dramatic atmosphere. Art developed rapidly with the support of the Catholic Church, and until its decline it was associated with greatness, vitality, drama and sensuality.

4. History and development-

The background to the popularity of the Baroque style began in the early 1500s, when the Protestant Reformation, championed by Martin Luther, began to take root in Europe. Protestant denominations have questioned certain doctrines propagated by the Catholic Church, such as salvation by faith alone. The Council of Trent was then convened to draft counter-reform measures. The Catholic Church decided to reassert itself in the religious landscape and needed to educate the masses on its doctrines, most of which were illiterate. The Council of Trent decided to use art as an educational tool, especially art which was emotionally intense, dramatic and direct. The need for art powerfully designed by the Catholic Church inspired the Baroque style. The style has inspired many artists across Europe and has been used in paintings such as the ceilings and vaults of churches and palaces. Baroque architecture has been incorporated into palaces, domes and bold spaces. The style manifested itself differently in European countries with regard to their individual religious and political landscape.

3. Notable artists and their works-

One of the most famous Baroque architects was Bernini who designed St. Peter’s Square in Rome. He surrounded the square with impressive colonnades to evoke the feeling of being greeted by the arms of the Catholic Church. Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens is renowned for various paintings such as “The Four Continents” and “The Massacre of the Innocents”. Peter, alongside other Baroque painters like Caravaggio and Giovanni Bernini, were renowned for using clear, dramatic and vivid images to convey mainly religious themes. Bernini is most famous for the painting of ‘St. Thérèse in ecstasy ‘. Baroque music composers include George Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach.

2. Decline and subsequent successors-

After having been a resounding success throughout Europe, the Baroque style began to decline at the end of the 17th century. The decline coincides with the decline of Italy, cradle of the style. In its place came the Rococo style, defended by France which was the new European power. The Baroque style had been criticized as not being sincere, and the French developed the Rococo style as a resistance to the strict regulations of the Baroque style.

1. Legacy-

The Baroque style inspired the Beaux-Arts architectural style that developed in the 19th century and was used in some modern buildings. The Baroque style gave birth to majestic monuments in modern Europe, such as St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Castellana in Malta, Queluz National Palace in Portugal, the Royal Palace of La Granja in Spain, the church Saint Anne parish church in Budapest and Saint Petersburg. Saint George’s Cathedral in Romania.

Norma D. Ross