What is Baroque Art?

Baroque art is the extravagantly ornamented art that was produced in Europe and individual European colonies in the Americas in the 17th century. A number of the characteristics of Baroque Art continued through the first half of the 18th century, although this period is generally termed rococo.

Manifestations of baroque art appear in virtually every country in Europe, with other vital centres located in the Spanish and Portuguese New World. The term "baroque "also defines periods in architecture, literature and music.

The adolescent Bacchus - Caravaggio Meris
The adolescent Bacchus - Caravaggio Meris

The 17th century could be called the first modern age. Human awareness of the world was continually expanding. Many scientific discoveries influenced art.

Religion determined many aspects of baroque art. The Roman Catholic church was a highly influential patron, and it's counter-reformation, a movement to combat the spread of Protestantism, employed emotional, realistic and dramatic art as a means of propagating the faith.

Political situations also influenced art. The monarchies of France and Spain prompted the creation of works that reflected in their size and splendour the majesty of Louis XIV and Philip IV.

Among the general characteristics of baroque art is a sense of movement, energy and tension. The sharp contrast of light and shadow and hearts the dramatic effects of many paintings and sculptures.

The Fall of the Rebel Angels - Luca Giordano
The Fall of the Rebel Angels - Luca Giordano

Realism is another integral feature of Baroque art: the figures in paintings are not types but individuals with their personalities. Artists of this period were concerned with the inner workings of the mind and attempted to portray the passions of the soul on the face is they painted and sculpted.

The roots of Baroque styles are found in the art of late 16th century Italy.

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