Baroque – Introduction

The Magic of Baroque

After learning how Art started, today we are going to look at some of the most beautiful results of this amazing journey with an introduction to Baroque!

Hi Art lovers and welcome back!

As I promised, after learning how Art started, today we are going to look at some of the most beautiful results of this amazing evolution!

I chose to start with a series on Baroque (Barocco in Italian) because it represents one of the best examples of art completeness.

Why? Well because the Baroque style’s goal was to use movement, exuberant details, contrast, intense colors, grandeur and surprise to achieve a sense of astonishment and awe.

Apollo and Daphne, Baroque sculpture by Bernini
Apollo and Daphne by Bernini

The Name

To reach that, it was necessary to push visual Arts to their “limits“. That has been possible thanks to the ability of some geniuses we are going to know together. But let’s go in order 😉

First of all: why the name Baroque? We don’t know. Next question. Just kidding, but actually we are not 100% sure about the real origin of the word. Some scholars have claimed that the word was adapted from the Portuguese term “barroco“, a flawed pearl used in both Portugal and France already before the 18th century.

But before that, around the 16th century the Medieval Latin wordbaroco” was used to describe anything that was absurdly complex.

Another theory is a derivation from the name of the Italian painter Federico Barocci (1528–1612). He is considered one of the first Baroque painters and one of the finest (reason why I am going to talk about him soon in one of my next videos and posts).

Madonna del Popolo, painting by Federico Barocci
Madonna del Popolo by Federico Barocci

When, Where, Why?

What we are sure about is that the style started in the early 1600 in Rome spreading rapidly to France, Spain and Portugal. Later, to Austria, southern Germany and Russia until the 1740.

It started in Rome because it was encouraged by the Catholic Church to fight the Protestantism austerity. The Catholic Church wanted to show its strength using a new art style able to show grandeur. But at the same time able to touch consciences and souls.

Baroque Church of Jesus in Rome
Church of Jesus, Rome

This last concept is the heart of Baroque! Historically and artistically talking, we have just got out from the Renaissance: a style based mostly on harmony and rationality. An amazing heritage for art and culture, but a tough period for the Catholic Church’s values (click here to read the post).

Already in the Council of Trent, held between 1545 and 1563 to face the Protestant Reformation “crisis”, the Catholic Church was pushing for a “new” image of Christ. A more pained, bleeding, wounded, pale Christ able to arouse compassion among the people.

Lamentation over the Dead Christ, Baroque painting by van Dyck
Lamentation over the Dead Christ, Anthony van Dyck

The new Art Style was suppose to drive this idea pushing feelings and passions inside an empathy level amplified by the magnificence of the works of art. The Baroque was the perfect tool to reach this goal making the works of art a scenography where the viewer is surrounded by emotions and beauty!

And it has been so successful to last 140 years spreading in all Europe. Even in the countries where the Protestant Reformation was stronger!

Another example of how art can be tougher than borders and ideologies.

I hope you enjoyed this introduction. In the next posts and videos we are going to see in detail some Baroque masterpieces with this new series. Stay curious!

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