We explain what the Baroque is, how it originated and the topics it covers. Also, what are its characteristics and different arts.

baroque style - churchbaroque style - church
The Baroque movement developed in Europe and its American colonies.


The baroque style is a set of characteristics expressed in the different branches of art that developed in Europe from the beginning of the 17th century to the middle of the 18th century.

The term baroque was coined in the immediately subsequent period, the 18th century, to derogatorily refer to previous art, considering it deformed and exaggerated. However, later this style was revalued by your ability to express feelings and passionsand for its profound impact on the viewer.

baroque style often opposes the classical style. The latter is characterized by respect for proportions, the almost mathematical representation of reality, the harmony of elements and the selection of calm characters such as gods and kings. Art historians maintain that in all periods of European art there has been an alternation between a style more similar to Baroque and one more similar to Classical.

See also: Rococo

Origin of the Baroque style

The baroque transmitted pain, love and life with greater intensity.

Baroque originated in the early 17th centuryat a time when Europe was affected by the so-called 30 Years War (1618 – 1648) but also by multiple local revolts and revolutions.

Besides, deaths from the plague were common. In this context of violence and death, this form of art arises that transmits not only the pain with greater intensity, but also the love for life.

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Secondly, the Catholic Church experienced its first crisis, for which reason he sought to turn his temples into places with a multitude of sculptures that inspired religious fervor. The Baroque style, which was beginning to emerge, responded to these needs. In other words, the Baroque found its origin in social causes and the necessary impulse in religious causes.

Baroque sentiment and spirituality

The main characteristic of Baroque art is the aim of representing the inner passions. Among them are feelings such as love or anger, but also forms of spirituality, such as faith, peace and mercy. In addition, the baroque sought to represent the individual temperament.

Baroque artificial proportions

Baroque - sculptureBaroque - sculpture
Exaggeration in the Baroque was used to create tension and movement.

Baroque I was looking for a credible representation of realityTherefore, in painting and sculpture, we find human representations very similar to real models.

However, the proportions of human bodies in many cases are exaggerated, although this cannot be seen with the naked eye. Exaggeration was used as a way of creating movement and tension, as well as facilitating the expression of passions.

Baroque themes

There are three types of themes in the Baroque style.

  • On the one hand, religious themes are very common, since for more than a century it was the style most promoted by the Catholic Church.
  • On the other hand, part of this art had a political content since both in architecture and in music or painting it could exalt political figures and kings.
  • And to a lesser extent its theme was bourgeois, with everyday scenes and landscapes.

baroque architecture

baroque - architecturebaroque - architecture
The Palace of Versailles is an example of Baroque architecture.

in baroque architecture there is an exuberant decoration. Curved figures predominate, both concave and convex. The scenographic sense of architecture is observed in the various optical games that built different images depending on the point of view of the observer.

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both kings and popes encouraged the expression of great ideals in baroque architecture, through its urban planning programs.

Examples of Baroque architecture are the facade of the building San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane (1640) by Francesco Borromini, in Rome, and the Palace of Versailles (1685) by Louis Le vau and Jules Hardouin-Mansart.

Baroque music

baroque music characterized by the use of tonal harmony, that is, the combination of simultaneous sounds, with the constant presence of the continuous bass. Music is no longer subject to the word (vocal language) developing its own instrumental language.

The contrast characteristic of the baroque is expressed in the music in the use of dissonance and the contrast between strong and weak parts of the compass.

Examples of baroque music are JS Bach’s cantatas and The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi.

baroque literature

Don QuixoteDon Quixote
Don Quixote de la Mancha was published in Peru in the year 1607.

baroque literature expresses skepticism and pessimism. He resorts to multiple rhetorical resources, such as allegories and metaphors, and his language is ornate and sumptuous, with a multitude of adjectives. At this time, Latin began to be abandoned and vernacular languages ​​were used.

Life is presented as a struggleor in other cases as a dream, an illusion or a lie.

Among the baroque works are Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantesthe Fable of Polifemo and Galatea (1613) by Luis de Góngora and the collection of poems Spanish Parnaso (1648) by Francisco de Quevedo.

baroque painting

The Calling of Saint Matthew (1601) by CaravaggioThe Calling of Saint Matthew (1601) by Caravaggio
In baroque painting appears the contrast between light and dark areas.

Both baroque painting and sculpture seek an imitative representation of reality, similar to naturalism. Despite giving the impression of being a faithful representation of reality, in reality the shapes are exaggerated.

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Specifically in painting, chiaroscuro appears, which is the contrast between light and dark areas. The technique is oil on canvas.

Examples of Baroque painting are The Calling of Saint Matthew (1601) by Caravaggio and Portrait of Cardinal Richelieu (1640) by Philippe de Champaigne.

baroque sculpture

The sculpture also explores the imitative but exaggerated representation of the human body and face. The bodies are usually wrapped in fabrics that create greater drama and also allow for contrasts between colors and textures.

In sculpture, these effects of light and shadow are achieved thanks to the relief. Each sculpture is designed for a specific place, and therefore is subordinated to the architecture and to the light (natural or artificial) that it receives in that place.

Examples of Baroque sculpture are Apollo and Daphne (1625) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and the so-called “Plague Column” (1679) by Matthias Rauchmüller.

baroque theater

baroque theater baroque theater
In the baroque theater the scenery became more complex.

The dramatic literature of the baroque shows characteristics similar to other literary forms of the baroque, such as the multitude of adjectives and rhetorical figures. Specifically, the theatrical show was modified because for the first time the audience on the stage was divided.

The scenery became more complex and with the aim of creating an illusion of reality, but at the same time showing prodigies and enhancing the visual composition of the show.

the baroque theater developed mainly in Spainwith authors such as Tirso de Molina and Lope de Vega.

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