Baroque – Definition, Examples, History & More – Art Theory Glossary

What is Baroque?

Baroque is a style of art and architecture that emerged in Europe in the late 16th century and lasted until the early 18th century. It is characterized by its dramatic and ornate style, with a focus on emotion, movement, and grandeur. Baroque art is known for its use of rich colors, intricate details, and dramatic lighting.

Baroque art was closely tied to the Catholic Church and was used to convey religious themes in a powerful and emotional way. The term “Baroque” is believed to have originated from the Portuguese word “barroco,” which means irregularly shaped pearl.

Characteristics of Baroque Art

Some key characteristics of Baroque art include a sense of movement and energy, as well as a focus on emotion and drama. Baroque artists often used exaggerated poses and gestures to convey intense emotions, such as joy, sorrow, or anger. The use of light and shadow, known as chiaroscuro, was also a common technique in Baroque art, creating a sense of depth and drama.

Baroque art is also known for its use of rich colors and intricate details. Artists would often create elaborate compositions with a high level of detail, using techniques such as foreshortening and perspective to create a sense of depth and realism. Baroque art was often grand and ornate, with a focus on creating a sense of awe and wonder in the viewer.

Key Artists of the Baroque Period

Some of the key artists of the Baroque period include Caravaggio, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Peter Paul Rubens, and Rembrandt van Rijn. Caravaggio was known for his use of dramatic lighting and realistic depictions of human emotion, while Bernini was a master of sculpture and architecture, creating grand and dynamic works that are still admired today.

Rubens was a prolific painter known for his dynamic compositions and rich colors, while Rembrandt was a master of light and shadow, creating intimate and emotional portraits that are still revered for their depth and complexity. These artists helped to define the Baroque style and set the stage for the development of art in the centuries to come.

Baroque Architecture

Baroque architecture is characterized by its grandeur, ornamentation, and dramatic use of space. Baroque buildings often feature elaborate facades, intricate detailing, and a sense of movement and energy. One of the key features of Baroque architecture is the use of curves and undulating forms, creating a sense of dynamism and motion in the building.

Baroque architects often used light and shadow to create a sense of drama and depth in their buildings, with large windows and open spaces allowing natural light to flood the interior. Some of the most famous examples of Baroque architecture include St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Palace of Versailles in France, and the Church of the Gesù in Rome.

Influence of Baroque Art on Later Movements

The Baroque period had a significant influence on later art movements, including Rococo, Neoclassicism, and Romanticism. The dramatic and emotional style of Baroque art laid the foundation for the more ornate and playful Rococo style, which emerged in the 18th century and featured lighter colors, delicate forms, and a sense of whimsy.

Neoclassicism, which emerged in the late 18th century, drew on the classical forms and ideals of ancient Greece and Rome, but also incorporated the dramatic lighting and emotional intensity of Baroque art. Romanticism, which emerged in the early 19th century, was influenced by the emotional and expressive qualities of Baroque art, as well as its focus on nature, the sublime, and the irrational.

Baroque Art in Modern Times

While the Baroque period officially ended in the early 18th century, its influence can still be seen in modern art and architecture. Many contemporary artists continue to draw inspiration from the dramatic lighting, emotional intensity, and ornate details of Baroque art, creating works that evoke a sense of grandeur and drama.

Baroque architecture also continues to influence modern buildings, with architects incorporating elements of the Baroque style, such as curved forms, dramatic facades, and dynamic spaces, into their designs. The legacy of the Baroque period can be seen in the grandeur and drama of many of the world’s most iconic buildings, as well as in the emotional intensity and expressive qualities of much contemporary art.