The Baroque


August 13, 2022

This is a general article about the Baroque period. For the Baroque period in music, see Baroque (music) Baroque and baroque is the name of both a style and an era within European art, and is mainly considered to be the 17th and 18th centuries. The art direction valued drama and detail, ornamentation and splendor, and featured in most art forms: Music, architecture, literature, painting and sculpture. The Baroque began around the year 1600 in Rome and spread to the rest of Europe with the support of the Catholic Church, which used the style as part of its counter-reformation. Baroque in different countries found different local forms of expression. The Baroque is often referred to as a reaction against the strict principles of harmony and austere asceticism in the Renaissance. The 17th century was one of the bloodiest centuries in European history. There were extensive wars between the great powers, not least because of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). The wars in the 17th century were triggered, among other things, by religious antagonisms between Protestants and Catholics. In each camp there was a need to punish those who did not have "the right faith". Among other things, the Popes gave orders for the Inquisition, a court which, with torture and murder, was supposed to force people back to the "right faith". The Renaissance and the Reformation had spread optimism and faith in man's ability to create, think and discover. In times of crisis where established opinions are questioned, there are often counter-reactions. A psychological need arises in many people to escape from the vulnerable reality and into a firm and secure belief in God. In the 17th century, fertile ground was therefore created for a new direction within art which precisely emphasized religious life; the baroque. The art from this time is direct and dramatic.


Both buildings and furniture from the Baroque period were colossal and ostentatious, designed to impress. Ornaments were preferred to straight lines, domes and colonnades were used, and people were concerned with contrasts between light and shadow, mass and empty space. Sculptures and frescoes adorned the decoration integrated into the buildings. Town planning from this time was based on baroque parks, with avenues leading from a center and a square where people met. Baroque architecture was the central style until around the middle of the 18th century, when Neoclassicism became the dominant building style. Baroque architecture is primarily found in Italy, but outstanding examples are also found in central Germany and Austria, such as the castle in Ludwigsburg and the Zwinger in Dresden. The style has also characterized buildings and urban communities elsewhere in Europe and in Spanish-speaking America. Examples of Baroque buildings include parts of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Palace of Versailles, St. Paul's Cathedral in London and the Cathedral of the Invalides in Paris. The interior of Kongsberg Church is a Norwegian example of this building style.

Visual Art

The symbolism in paintings and sculptures was significantly simplified, so that everyone could benefit from the art, not just the learned. The sculptures from the Baroque period were full of movement, muscular strength and pathos. An example of this is the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Painting in the Baroque, like sculpture, was often characterized by drama and compositional abundance, but more muted and introspective expressions can also be found, especially in the Northern European Baroque. In portraits, the people were portrayed with big wigs and pompous clothes intended to make them look more grand than they were. Flowers and lush landscapes were also popular motifs in Baroque art. Flowers were particularly popular in still life painting, where the artist tried to bring out the contrast between death and life and symbolize the impermanence of life by painting, for example, fresh flowers and beautiful butterflies next to rotten fruit and skulls. Examples of outstanding baroque paintings can be Caravaggio's The Seven Acts of Mercy (1607), Rembrandt's The Night Watch (1642), Velázquez's Las Meninas (1656), or From