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Derived from the Portuguese 'barocco' meaning, 'irregular pearl or stone’


Baroque art is profoundly tied to the religious and political

context of 16th and 17th century Italy: after the Protestant
Reformation, the Catholic Church launched its own
Counter-Reformation to reaffirm its power and attract
more followers to the faith. In order to do so, the leaders
of the church called for artistic spectacles that would
captivate the attention, stimulate the senses, and elevate
the soul. Consequently, Baroque art tends to the massive,
dramatic, and theatrical.
▪ The term baroque – it originally meant overdone – too
many notes in music, too much color in painting, and too
grand in architecture.

▪ It has come to include the following definitions:

– Marked by elaborate ornamentation
– Aims to create a dramatic effect
– Enlarged space
– Heightened sensuality combined with spirituality
– Naturalistic rather than ideal, emotional rather than rational
– Conflict and contrast, heightened spirituality, lively sensuality
Baroque Art and Architecture
▪ Started in the Catholic
countries and seen as
a reaction to the
Baroque Architecture
Baroque Art
▪ Baroque art is mainly defined by a
time period.
▪ Baroque art in Spain and Italy was
made as a response to the Protestant
Reformation – look and see how
magnificent the Catholic Church can
▪ In Catholic countries the church
financed most art, in Protestant
countries it was wealthy businessmen
who financed art.
▪ In other areas of Europe it is defined
by a style of art that shows great
contrast between light and dark and
the use of oil paints.
▪ Bernini’s The Ecstasy of St. Theresa
was considered too erotic for the
Vatican – check out the light.
▪ Among the greatest artists of the
Baroque period are
Velázquez, Caravaggio, Rembrandt,
Rubens, Poussin, and Vermeer.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Bernini was the dominant artist of 17th-century Rome. He was a major

figure in the world of architecture, he was the leading sculptor of his age,
credited with creating the Baroque style of sculpture. In Rome he
designed and supervised projects that integrated architecture, painting
and sculpture, such as the Cornaro chapel in S. Maria della Vittoria,
which contains the statue of 'The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa'. He was
responsible for town planning schemes as well as for church buildings
and interiors, including St Peter's in the Vatican.
St. Peter's Basilica, Rome,
designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Bernini's Baldacchino, 1624-1633, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Rome

The baldacchino was one of the works which made him a famous artist. It is a
monumental canopy that covers the shrine of St. Peter. Made of dark bronze
accented with gold vine leaves, it was sculpted from 1624 to 1633 by Bernini, under
the direction of Pope Urban VIII Barberini, who oversaw the Baroque decoration of
many masterpieces of Rome. The spiral columns derive their shapes from the
columns in the original (Old) St. Peter's Basilica built by Constantine, and according
to legend, they came from Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. This baldacchino
proves that Bernini kept creating in the Baroque style.
Bernini is representative of Baroque style, because of the intensified
movements and expressions in his sculptures, the different colors of the
marbles used for architecture, the play of light and shades, ... But he's
also recognized as the Master of "total art", what it means that he
wanted to mix all his talents in his creations, and that's a Baroque
characteristic too. As a matter of fact he wanted to create total
masterpieces only by himself, painting, sculpting and building. To
illustrate this particularity, we could quote the church of Saint Andrew's
at the Quirinal, built in Rome in 1658 - 1661 : Bernini created the
external architecture - the plan, the exterior ornaments and façade - but
also what's inside this church - golden decoration of the dome, circular
elevation, marbled columns and Saint Andrew's sculpture situated at the
head of the altar.
Bernini's sculptures are recognizable for their
engaging drama, dynamism, tension, texture,
and naturalism.

The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa

While the sculpture may be
appreciated from multiple angles,
Bernini planned for it to be viewed
side on, allowing the observer to
see the reactions of Apollo and
Daphne simultaneously, thus
understanding the narrative of the
story in a single instant, without the
need to move position.

The Apollo and Daphne, 1623-1624

Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Beautiful Bodies
and Beautiful

The Rape of Proserpina 1622 David 1624

Michelangelo Caravaggio - Italian

Michelangelo Caravaggio

▪ Used light to display drama.

▪ Light usually signified “God”
or heavenly intervention.
The Calling of Saint Matthew
The Conversion of St. Paul
The Crucifixion of Saint Peter
The Inspiration of St. Matthew
Judith Beheading Holofernes
The Sacrifice of Issac
Supper at Emmaus
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn was a Dutch draughtsman,
painter, and printmaker, born in Leiden in the Netherlands in 1606.
At the age of 14, Rembrandt began studying at the famous
University of Leiden but academic life did not suit him. After a few
months he left to begin an apprenticeship as a painter. He is
generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in the history
of art and the most important in Dutch art history. Unlike
most Dutch Masters of the 17th century, Rembrandt's works depict
a wide range of style and subject matter, from portraits, self-
portraits, to landscapes, allegorical and historical scenes, biblical
and mythological themes as well as animal studies. His
contributions to art came in a period of great wealth and cultural
achievement that historians call the Dutch Golden Age when Dutch
Golden Age painting, although in many ways opposing to
the Baroque style that dominated Europe, was extremely prolific
and innovative, and gave rise to important new genres in painting.

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp The Sampling Officials 1662
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, 1633

Fundamental aspect of Rembrandt’s development was
his intense study of people, objects, and their
surroundings “from life,” as is obvious in paintings like his
early self-portraits and the Saint Paul in Prison of 1627.
Despite the constant evolution of his style, Rembrandt’s
compelling descriptions of light, space, atmosphere,
modeling, texture, and human situations may be traced
back even from his late works.
Rembrandt inspired numerous seventeenth-century Dutch
and German painters, as well as eighteenth-century
artists throughout Europe
Having achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, his later
years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardship. Yet
his drawings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his
reputation as an artist remained high and for twenty years he taught
nearly every important Dutch painter. Rembrandt's greatest
creative triumphs are exemplified especially in his portraits of his
contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the
Bible. The self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in
which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost
In both painting and printmaking he exhibited a complete knowledge
of classical iconography, which he moulded to fit the requirements of
his own experience; thus, the depiction of a biblical scene was
informed by Rembrandt's knowledge of the specific text, his
assimilation of classical composition, and his observations of the
Jewish population of Amsterdam. Because of his empathy for the
human condition, he has been called "one of the great prophets of