baroque adj : having elaborate symmetrical ornamentation; "the building...frantically baroque"-William Dean Howells [syn: churrigueresque, churrigueresco] n : elaborate an extensive ornamentation in decorative art and architecture that flourished in Europe in the 17th century [syn: baroqueness]
EtymologyFrom the barroco
- ornate, intricate, decorated, laden with detail.
- from the Baroque period in visual art and music.
- complex and beautiful, yet for an outward irregularity.
- chiseled from stone, or shaped from wood, in a garish, crooked, twisted, or slanted sort of way, grotesque.
- embellished with figures and forms such that every level of relief gives way to more details and contrasts.
- A period in western architecture from ca. 1600 to the middle of the eighteenth century, known for its abundance of decoration.
- A period in western art from ca. 1600 to the middle of the eighteenth century, characterized by drama, rich color, and dramatic contrast between light and shadow.
- A period in western music from ca. 1600 to ca. 1760, characterized by extensive use of counterpoint, basso-continuo, and extensive ornamentation.
- The chess variant invented in 1962 by Mathematician Robert Abbott, or any of its descendants, where pieces move alike, but have differing methods of capture.
- Baroque art redirects here. Please disambiguate such links to Baroque painting, Baroque sculpture, etc.
The popularity and success of the Baroque style was encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church which had decided at the time of the Council of Trent that the arts should communicate religious themes in direct and emotional involvement. The aristocracy also saw the dramatic style of Baroque architecture and art as a means of impressing visitors and expressing triumphant power and control. Baroque palaces are built around an entrance of courts, grand staircases and reception rooms of sequentially increasing opulence. In similar profusions of detail, art, music, architecture, and literature inspired each other in the Baroque cultural movement as artists explored what they could create from repeated and varied patterns. Some traits and aspects of Baroque paintings that differentiate this style from others are the abundant amount of details, often bright polychromy, less realistic faces of subjects, and an overall sense of awe, which was one of the goals in Baroque art.
The word baroque probably derives from the ancient Portuguese noun "barroco" which is a pearl that is not round but of unpredictable and elaborate shape. Hence, in informal usage, the word baroque can simply mean that something is "elaborate", with many details, without reference to the Baroque styles of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Evolution of the Baroque
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 in Rome at that time.
A defining statement of what Baroque signifies in painting is provided by the series of paintings executed by Peter Paul Rubens for Marie de Medici at the Luxembourg Palace in Paris (now at the Louvre) http://www.students.sbc.edu/vandergriff04/mariedemedici.html, in which a Catholic painter satisfied a Catholic patron: Baroque-era conceptions of monarchy, iconography, handling of paint, and compositions as well as the depiction of space and movement.
There were highly diverse strands of Italian baroque painting, from Caravaggio to Cortona; both approaching emotive dynamism with different styles. Another frequently cited work of Baroque art is Bernini's Saint Theresa in Ecstasy for the Cornaro chapel in Saint Maria della Vittoria, which brings together architecture, sculpture, and theater into one grand conceit http://www.boglewood.com/cornaro/xteresa.html.
The later Baroque style gradually gave way to a more decorative Rococo, which, through contrast, further defines Baroque.
The intensity and immediacy of baroque art and its individualism and detail—observed in such things as the convincing rendering of cloth and skin textures—make it one of the most compelling periods of Western art.
Baroque sculptureIn 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. Aleijadinho in Brazil was also one of the great names of baroque sculpture, and his master work is the set of statues of the Santuário de Bom Jesus de Matosinhos in Congonhas. The soapstone sculptures of old testament prophets around the terrace are considered amongst his finest work.
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 artA 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. Saint Theresa, the focal point of the chapel, is a soft white marble statue surrounded by a polychromatic marble architectural framing. This structure works to conceal a window which lights 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 and in an imaginary setting. St. Theresa of Avila, a popular saint of the Catholic Reformation, wrote 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. In her writings, she described the love of God as piercing her heart like a burning arrow. Bernini literalizes this image by placing St. Theresa on a cloud while 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.
This is widely considered the genius of Baroque although this mix of religious and erotic imagery was extremely offensive in the context of neoclassical restraint. However, Bernini was a devout Catholic and was not attempting to satirize the experience of a chaste nun. Rather, he aimed to portray religious experience as an intensely physical one. 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.
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 stairs followed by a 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 Russia (see e.g. Peterhof). 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 Latin America. Town planning of this period featured radiating avenues intersecting in squares, which took cues from Baroque garden plans.In Sicily, Baroque developed new shapes and themes as in Noto, Ragusa and Acireale "Basilica di San Sebastiano"
In theater, the elaborate conceits, multiplicity of plot turns, and variety of situations characteristic of Mannerism (Shakespeare's tragedies, for instance) were superseded by opera, which drew together all the arts into a unified whole.
Theater evolved in the Baroque era and became a multimedia experience, starting with the actual architectural space. In fact, much of the technology used in current Broadway or commercial plays was invented and developed during this era. The stage could change from a romantic garden to the interior of a palace in a matter of seconds. The entire space became a framed selected area that only allows the users to see a specific action, hiding all the machinery and technology - mostly ropes and pulleys.
This technology affected the content of the narrated or performed pieces, practicing at its best the Deus ex Machina solution. Gods were finally able to come down - literally - from the heavens and rescue the hero in the most extreme and dangerous, even absurd situations.
The term Theatrum Mundi - the world is a stage - was also created. The social and political realm in the real world is manipulated in exactly the same way the actor and the machines are presenting/limiting what is being presented on stage, hiding selectively all the machinery that makes the actions happen. There is a wonderful German documentary called Theatrum Mundi that clearly portrays the political extents of the Baroque and its main representative, Louis XIV.
The films Vatel, Farinelli, and the staging of Monteverdi's Orpheus at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, give a good idea of the style of productions of the Baroque period. The American musician William Christie and Les Arts Florissants have performed extensive research on all the French Baroque Opera, performing pieces from Charpentier and Lully, among others that are extremely faithful to the original 17th century creations.
Baroque literature and philosophyBaroque 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 Catholic 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 allowed 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 as a possible cause for the classical opposition to Baroque) caused Latin to be definitely replaced by Italian.
In Spain, the baroque writers are framed in the Siglo de Oro. Naturalism and sharply critical points of view on Spanish society are common among such conceptista writers as Quevedo, while culterano authors emphasize the importance of form with complicated images and the use of hyperbaton. In Catalonia the baroque took hold as well in Catalan language, with representatives including poets and dramaturgs such as Francesc Fontanella and Francesc Vicenç Garcia as well as the unique emblem book Atheneo de Grandesa by Josep Romaguera. In Colonial Spanish America some of the best-known baroque writers were Sor Juana and Bernardo de Balbuena, in Mexico, and Juan de Espinosa Medrano and Juan del Valle Caviedes, in Peru.
In the Portuguese Empire the most famous baroque writer of the time was Father António Vieira, a Jesuit who lived in Brazil during the 18th century. Secondary writers are Gregório de Matos and Francisco Rodrigues Lobo.
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.
For German Baroque literature, see German literature of the Baroque period.
Baroque musicThe term Baroque is also 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. Antonio Vivaldi, 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 "Baroque" in music was only in 1919, by Curt Sachs, and it was not until 1940 that it was first used in English (in an article published by Manfred Bukofzer). Even as late as 1960 there was still considerable dispute in academic circles over whether music as diverse as that by Jacopo Peri, François Couperin and J.S. Bach could be meaningfully bundled together under a single stylistic term.
Many musical forms were born in that era, like the concerto and sinfonia. Forms such as the sonata, cantata and oratorio flourished. Also, opera was born 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. An important technique used in baroque music was the use of ground bass, a repeated bass line. Dido's Lament by Henry Purcell is a famous example of this technique.
Baroque composers and examples
- Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) Vespers (1610)
- Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672), Symphoniae Sacrae (1629, 1647, 1650)
- Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632–1687) Armide (1686)
- Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706), Canon in D (1680)
- Arcangelo Corelli (1653–1713), 12 concerti grossi
- Henry Purcell (1659–1695) Dido and Aeneas (1687)
- Tomaso Albinoni (1671–1751), Sonata a sei con tromba
- Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741), The four seasons
- Johann David Heinichen (1683–1729)
- Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683–1764) Dardanus (1739)
- George Frideric Handel (1685–1759), Water Music Suite (1717)
- Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757), Sonatas for Cembalo or Harpsichord
- Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), Brandenburg concertos (1721)
- Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767), Der Tag des Gerichts (1762)
- Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710–1734), Stabat Mater (1736)
EtymologyThe word "Baroque", like most periodic 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 transliteration of the Portuguese phrase "pérola barroca", which means "irregular pearl"—an ancient similar word, "Barlocco" or "Brillocco", is used in the 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". Others derive it from the mnemonic term "Baroco" denoting, in logical Scholastica, a supposedly laboured form of syllogism.
The term "Baroque" was initially used with a derogatory meaning, to underline the excesses of its emphasis. In particular, the term was used to describe its eccentric redundancy and noisy abundance of details, which sharply contrasted the clear and sober rationality of the Renaissance. It was first rehabilitated by the Swiss-born art historian, Heinrich Wölfflin (1864–1945) in his Renaissance und Barock (1888); Wölfflin 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 Wölfflin's influence had made German scholarship pre-eminent.
Modern usageIn 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.
- The baroque and rococo culture
- "Dictionary of the History of Ideas": Baroque in literature
- The greatest works of Baroque literature
- Webmuseum Paris
- barocke in Val di Noto - Sizilien
- Baroque in the "History of Art"
- Essays on Baroque art by John Haber
- On Baroque Symbolism
- The Baroque style and Luis XIV influence
- Gardner, Helen, Fred S. Kleiner, Christin J Mamiya. 2005. Gardner's Art through the Ages, 12th edition. Belmont, CA : Thomson/Wadsworth, ; ISBN 9780155050907 (hardcover) ISBN 9780534640958 (v. 1, pbk.) 0534640915 ISBN 9780534640910 (v. 2, pbk.) ISBN 9780534640811 (CD-ROM) ISBN 9780534641009 (Resource Guide) ISBN 9780534641085 (set) 0534641075 ISBN 9780534641078 (v. 1, international student ed., pbk.) ISBN 9780534633318 (cd-rom)
- Heinrich Wölfflin, 1964. Renaissance and Baroque (Reprinted 1984; originally published in German, 1888) The classic study. ISBN 0-8014-9046-4
- Michael Kitson, 1966. The Age of Baroque
- John Rupert Martin, 1977. Baroque A more detailed survey.
- Germain Bazin, 1964. Baroque and Rococo, (Originally published in French; reprinted as Baroque and Rococo Art, 1974)
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