Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
baroque, in art and architecture
baroque (bərōkˈ), in art and architecture, a style developed in Europe, England, and the Americas during the 17th and early 18th cent.
The baroque style is characterized by an emphasis on unity among the arts. With technical brilliance, the baroque artist achieved a remarkable harmony wherein painting, sculpture, and architecture were brought together in new spatial relationships, both real and illusionary, often with spectacular visual effects. Although the restrained and classical works created by most French and English artists look very different from the exuberant works favored in central and southern Europe and in the New World, both trends in baroque art tend to engage the viewer, both physically and emotionally. In painting and sculpture this was achieved by means of highly developed naturalistic illusionism, usually heightened by dramatic lighting effects, creating an unequaled sense of theatricality, energy, and movement of forms. Architecture, departing from the classical canon revived during the Renaissance, took on the fluid, plastic aspects of sculpture.
Painters and sculptors built and expanded on the naturalistic tradition reestablished during the Renaissance. Although religious painting, history painting, allegories, and portraits were still considered the most noble subjects, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes were painted by such artists as Claude Lorrain, Jacob van Ruisdael, Willem Kalf, and Jan Vermeer. Caravaggio and his early followers were especially significant for their naturalistic treatment of unidealized, ordinary people. The illusionistic effects of deep space interested many painters, including Il Guercino and Andrea Pozzo. Other baroque painters opened up interior spaces by representing long files of rooms, often with extended views through doors, windows, or mirrors, as in the works of Diego Velázquez and Vermeer.
Color was manipulated for its emotional effects, ranging from the clear calm tones of Nicholas Poussin, to the warm and shimmering colors of Pietro da Cortona, to the more vivid hues of Peter Paul Rubens. A heightened sense of drama was achieved through chiaroscuro in the works of Caravaggio and Rembrandt. Carracci and Poussin portrayed restrained feeling in accordance with the academic principles of dignity and decorum. Others, including Caravaggio, Rubens, and Rembrandt depicted religious ecstasy, physical sensuality, or individual psychology in their paintings.
Divisions of the Baroque Period
Early Baroque, c.1590–c.1625
High Baroque, c.1625–c.1660
Late Baroque, c.1660–c.1725
See R. Wittkower, Art and Architecture in Italy, 1600–1750 (1958); A. Blunt, Art and Architecture in France, 1500–1700 (1953); J. W. P. Bourke, Baroque Churches of Central Europe (1962); E. Hempel, Baroque Art and Architecture in Central Europe (1965); H. Busch and B. Lohse, ed., Baroque Sculpture (tr. 1965); M. Kitson, The Age of the Baroque (1966); G. Bazin, The Baroque (1968).
baroque, in music
See C. V. Palisca, Baroque Music (1968); R. Donington, A Performer's Guide to Baroque Music (1974); E. Rosand, Baroque Music (2 vol., 1986); H. Gleason and W. Becker, Music in the Baroque (3d ed. 1988).
(probably from the Portuguese perola barroca, an oddly shaped pearl; or from the Latin baroco, mnemonic designation of one of the forms of syllogism in Scholastic logic), the dominant style in European art from the late 16th century to the mid-18th century.
A broader understanding of the Baroque period would include the outward forms of everyday life, carnivals, processions, and peculiarities of philosophical and scholarly expository style; thus, the Baroque period might be considered a general cultural phenomenon (like the Gothic period and the Renaissance). The baroque style reflected the crisis of feudalism during a period of initial accumulation of capital and colonial expansion, as well as the growing contradictions in religious and social consciousness. The baroque architectural style was widely used in cathedrals during the Counter-Reformation and was distinguished by its particular magnificence (Jesuit buildings; “ultrabaroque” architecture in Latin America). However, the baroque style was widely used not only in the Catholic countries but also in the Protestant countries, and later in Orthodox countries. It would be inaccurate to limit the baroque style to the Counter-Reformation and feudal reaction. “Lower baroque” forms developed at the same time as court and church baroque styles and were associated with the expression of antifeudal protest and the national liberation movements of the Slavic peoples against the Hapsburgs and the Ottoman yoke.
The baroque style was distinguished by antinomies in its perception and reflection of the world and by emotional and intellectual tension. An ascetic appeal was combined with hedonism, refinement with coarseness, and abstract symbolism with a naturalistic treatment of details. The baroque style was dynamic and ostentatious, with its own peculiar theatricality, enchantment, and illusoriness. The Baroque period adopted and remade various artistic traditions and included them in the development of national styles. The period was characterized by a striving for the interaction of different artistic media (for example, in opera), a concept of poetry as spoken painting and of painting as unspoken poetry, and a passion for the emblematic and allegorical. The baroque style was based on Scholastic logic and rhetoric and the development of complex metaphors and similes. It inherited the most expressive artistic forms from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and combined ancient classical and Christian images. The rhetorical rationalism of the Baroque period facilitated the expression of ideas by the early Enlightenment. The acceptance of the baroque style by romanticism and by the latest modernist tendencies is noteworthy.
Art and architecture
Baroque was one of the fundamental stylistic tendencies in architecture, fine arts, and decorative arts between the late 16th and mid-18th centuries. The baroque style became firmly established at a time of intensive formation of nations and national governments (mainly absolute monarchies), growth of the manufacturing industry, and, at the same time, strengthening of the feudal Catholic reaction. The art of the Baroque period was closely associated with the monarchy, the aristocracy, and the church and was called upon to glorify and propagandize their power. In addition, baroque art reflected new views on the unity, boundlessness, diversity, dramatic complexity, and eternal changeability of the world, as well as an interest in the environment, man’s surroundings, and the natural elements.
Baroque art replaced both the artistic culture of the Renaissance and the refined subjective art of mannerism. It rejected characteristic classical Renaissance ideas of the harmony and strict order of existence and the unlimited possibilities of man, his will, and his reason. Baroque aesthetics was based on the antitheses of man and the world, ideal and sensuous principles, and reason and the power of irrational forces. In baroque art, man is no longer the center of the universe. Man is a multileveled individual in a complex world of experiences, and he is drawn into the unending change and the conflicts of his environment. Baroque art was influenced by antifeudal peasant and plebeian movements and bourgeois revolutions, which brought a spirit of rebellious democratic aspirations into baroque art.
Baroque art was characterized by grandeur, magnificence, dynamism, soaring inspiration, intensity of feelings, and a passion for visual effects, a mixture of the illusory and the real, and strong contrasts in scale, rhythm, materials, textures, and light and shadow. The various art forms create a grand monumental and decorative unity whose scope astounds the imagination. The urban ensemble—streets, squares, parks, gardens—was regarded as an organized whole which develops in space and reveals its diversity to the spectator as he moves through it. Baroque palaces and churches assume a picturesque, dynamic quality and almost seem to flow into the surrounding space because of the luxurious, fanciful plasticity of the facades, the restless play of chiaroscuro, the coalescence of seemingly liquid forms, and complex, curved planes and outlines. In the formal interiors, architecture blends with multicolored sculpture, molding, and carving; mirrors and murals widen space illusorily, and ceiling frescoes create the illusion of gaping arches.
The predominant forms in baroque fine arts were virtuoso decorative compositions of religious, mythological, or allegorical subjects and formal portraits that emphasized the person’s privileged social position. In these paintings, idealized images and unrestrained hyperbole were combined with turbulent dynamism and unexpected compositional and visual effects; reality was combined with fantasy, religious affectation with emphatic sensuality. The emotional, rhythmic, and colorational unity of the whole composition, often in combination with an unconstrained freedom of the brushstroke, assumed an importance in painting. In sculpture, picturesque fluidity of form, the sensation of changeability, the formation of the image, and the wealth of points of view and impressions became important.
The art of G. Bernini, F. Borromini, and Pietro da Cortona, which was full of religious and sensual affectation; the academicism of the Bolognese school; and the democratic rebellious realism of Caravaggio arose in Italy, the birthplace of baroque art. Later, Italian baroque art evolved toward the fantastic quality of G. Guarini’s buildings, the bravura of the paintings of S. Rosa and A. Magnasco, and the dizzying lightness of G. B. Tiepolo’s paintings. In Flanders the new world view produced by revolution in the Netherlands brought powerful, new, life-affirming, realistic—and, at times, popular—principles into established baroque art (the painting of P. P. Rubens, A. van Dyck, and J. Jordaens). In 17th-century Spain some features of baroque art emerged in the ascetic architecture of J. B. de Herrera’s school, in the realistic painting of J. de Ribera and F. de Zurbarán, and in the sculpture of J. Montañés. However, it was in the 18th-century buildings by J. B. de Churriguera’s circle that baroque forms achieved unusual complexity and decorative refinement (even more hypertrophic in the ultrabaroque style in Latin America).
The splendor and luxuriousness of baroque style were given a unique interpretation in Austria (by the architects B. Fischer von Erlach and L. von Hildebrandt and the painter A. Maulbertsch), in the absolutist states of Germany (by the architects B. Neumann, A. Schlüter, Matthäus Pöppelmann, the Asam brothers, and the Dientzenhofer family), in Poland, the Czech lands, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, the Western Ukraine, and Lithuania.
In France, where classicism had become the leading style in the 17th century, the baroque style remained a secondary trend until the middle of the century; however, with the complete triumph of absolutism, the two styles were combined into a single, pompous style (the decoration of the halls of Versailles, the paintings of C. Le Brun). In the countries of intensive bourgeois development—England and Holland—the influence of the baroque style was only partial.
Baroque art developed in Russia in the first half of the 18th century and reflected the growth and consolidation of the gentry and absolute monarchy. Despite the generally class nature of the Baroque period, the Russian Baroque period was free from exaltation and mysticism (which were characteristic of the Baroque period in Catholic countries) and had a number of national features conditioned by a feeling of pride in the achievements of the government and the people.
Russian baroque architecture, which reached a majestic scope in the city and country ensembles of St. Petersburg, Peterhof, Tsarskoe Selo, and others, is distinguished by the splendid clarity and compositional unity of buildings and architectural complexes (the architects M. G. Zemtsov, V. V. Rastrelli, D. V. Ukhtomskii, S. I. Chevakinskii). Once freed from medieval religious chains, the fine arts turned to secular social themes and the image of active man (the sculpture of B. K. Rastrelli and others). In Russia, as in other countries, the Baroque period marked the rise of the decorative arts, which were closely related to architecture. In the first half of the 18th century the baroque style evolved everywhere toward the graceful lightness of the rococo style, but it also coexisted and interacted with the rococo. Beginning in the 1760’s, the baroque style was gradually displaced by classicism.
The concept of the baroque style is often applied to the entire artistic culture of the 17th century, including phenomena which are far from baroque in content and in style (for example, the Naryshkin baroque or the Moscow baroque in Russian architecture at the end of the 17th century).
The term “baroque” was applied to literature as early as the mid-19th century (G. Carducci, 1860; Porem-bovich, 1893). In the 1920’s a number of heavily subjective interpretations of the baroque style were advanced by expressionists and by representatives of the spiritual historical school. The term “baroque” is often used to designate precious literature (la préciosité) in France, Gongorism in Spain, Marinism in Italy, metaphysical poetry in England, and scholastic court poetry in Russia. However, the application of the term extends beyond these usages. In a broader sense, the baroque is regarded as a general style, historically natural in European literary development. The idea of a lower baroque style which answered the demands of the burgher class and the popular masses has also been suggested. Various manifestations of intellectual ferment connected with social Utopian movements and hopes also influenced forms of Baroque literature (J. Böhme, Q. Kuhl-mann, J. Amos Comenius).
Baroque literature was characterized by rhetoric and complex metaphors based on the “principle of wit” (or con-ceptism), which called for unexpected and striking combinations of “distant” ideas, images, and representations. The baroque style was marked by a striving for sharp contrasts, exaltation, and picturesqueness and by a passion for polymathy, the exotic, and the grotesque. Its leading genres were tragedy—with an abundance of horrors, bloody scenes, and outbursts of passion—and satire (not devoid of literary quality). A feeling of instability and anxiety produced by wars and social upheavals led to the theme of the falsity and vanity of existence (vanitas), which was taken up by the Counter-Reformation. In the lower stratum of the baroque style this theme reflected the real peripeteia of life, which rise up and throw man into the abyss. Man feels like a chip in the eddies of life; the theme of vanity corresponds to the fates of the soldiers of fortune, landsknechts, and adventurers of the period. The lower baroque style adopted set rhetorical formulas, motifs, and plot outlines from chivalrous and “precious” novels and satirically reinterpreted, reworked, and used them to build the important new form of the popular novel (Simplicissimus by Grimmelshausen). Baroque prose is often amorphous and full of heavy erudition and didacticism. The peripheral genres such as travel literature and literary collections combining novelistic and learned encyclopedic material became very important.
Baroque literature is represented in Spain by Góngora’s poetry, P. Calderon’s tragedies, Tirso de Molina’s dramas, and, to some extent, by the picaresque novel; in Italy, by the poetry of T. Tasso and G. Marino; in England, by J. Webster’s dramas; in Germany, by the tragedies of A. Gryphius and Lohenstein and the satire of J. Moscherosch and Grimmelshausen; in France, by D’Aubigné; in Croatia, by Gundulic’s epic poem, the dramas of I. Djordjič, and others. Some experts regard as baroque or find baroque features in the late drama of Shakespeare (The Tempest) and in the works of Milton, Vondel, Corneille, and many others.
In Russia the rise of the baroque style was closely related to the Ukrainian church sermon and the school drama. The baroque style is represented by the poetry of S. Polotskii and S. Medvedev. Baroque features such as antinomy, a tragic narrative tone, and a break with traditional genres are found in Avvakum’s Autobiography. Beginning in the late 17th century in Russia, the baroque style included the church sermon (S. Iavorskii, F. Prokopovich), the school theater, and the panegyric poetry of Petrine triumphs. The subsequent secularization of themes and motifs and the change in the system of versification altered and obscured the relationship of the new Russian poetry to baroque poetry. However, the work of Lomonosov, with its turbulent style, intense metaphors, striking imagery, pictorial sharpness, rhetorical style, and evocation of the fine arts (mosaics and illuminations), opened a new stage in the development of the baroque style in Russia.
In foreign musicology the term “baroque” has been used since the early 20th century. The Baroque period of music is considered to be the period of the development of musical culture in European countries which coincided with the Baroque period of architecture and fine arts. The demarcation of the Baroque period of music is based primarily upon some general features of compositional technique. Thus, the period from the end of the 16th to the mid-18th centuries is said to be marked by the establishment of the basso continuo; the formation of the major-minor system; the recognition of chords and the functional correlations of harmonies, as well as of strong and weak beats (related to the introduction of measures); and the appearance of new musical genres and forms—the partita, sonata, ricercar, fugue, and especially the concerto. The weaknesses of this concept of the Baroque period of music are shown by the coexistence of different and sometimes contradictory musical phenomena—from the works of the madrigalists at the turn of the 17th century to the works of G. F. Handel and J. S. Bach. Soviet researchers think that during this period of European musical art, classicism appeared at the same time as the baroque style and interacted with it. Soviet experts deny that an integral Baroque period of music can be isolated. According to the views of Soviet musicologists, the work of the major composers of this period—Handel and Bach—is not confined to any one style. Soviet musicologists think that not formal and technical aspects but definite kinds of images and the character of musical expressiveness—its grandeur, magnificence, ornamentation, expression of powerful emotions, and so forth—are fundamental in the baroque style of music. The baroque style of music makes a distinction between the striving for a profound representation of the inner world of man, for dramatism, and for a synthesis of the arts (opera, the oratorio, the cantata, and passions) and the striving for freedom from language (the development of instrumental genres). The baroque style of music is most clearly shown in Italian music (the monumental vocal instrumental works of composers of the Venetian school led by G. Gabrieli; the operatic compositions of M. A. Cesti; the organ works of G. Frescobaldi; and others) and a little later, in German music (the operas of R. Keiser, the organ works of D. Buxtehude, the clavier works of J. Kuhnau, and others).
REFERENCESWölflin, H. Renessans i barokko. St. Petersburg, 1918. (Translated from German.)
Wölflin, H. Osnovnye poniatiia istorii iskusstva. Moscow, 1930. (Translated from German.)
Smirnov, A. “Shekspir, renessans i barokko.” Vestnik LGU, 1946, no. 1.
Istoriia russkogo iskusstva, vol. 5. Moscow, 1960.
Livanova, T. N. “Na puti ot Vozrozhdeniia k Prosveshcheniiu XVIII veka.” In the collection Ot epokhi Vozrozhdeniia k dvadtsatomu veku. Moscow, 1963.
Vseobshchaia istoriia iskusstv, vol. 4. Moscow, 1963.
Istoriia estetiki: Esteticheskie ucheniia 17–18 v., vol. 2. Moscow, 1964.
Renessans, Barokko, Klassitsizm. Moscow, 1966.
Morozov, A. “Problemy evropeiskogo barokko.” Voprosy literatury, 1968, no. 12.
Morozov, A. “’Man’erizm’ i ’barokko’, kak terminy literaturovedeniia.” Russkaia literatura, 1966, no. 3.
Morozov, A. “Lomonosov i barokko.” Russkaia literatura, 1965, no. 2.
Likhachev, D. S. “Barokko i ego russkii variant XVII veka.” Russkaia literatura, 1969, no. 2.
Weisbach, W. Die Kunst des Barock in Italien, Frankreich, Deutschland und Spanien, 2nd ed. Berlin, 1929.
Retorica e barocco. Rome, 1955.
Die Kunstformen des Barockzeitalters. Published by R. Stamm. Bern-Munich, 1956.
Tapié, V.-L. Baroque et classicisme. Paris, 1957.
Angyal, A. Die slawische Barockwelt. Leipzig, 1961.
Blume, F. “Begriff und Grenze des Barock in der Musik.” Svensk Tidskrift fö r Musikforskning, 1961, vol. 43.
Manierismo, Barocco, Rococo: Concetti e termini. Rome, 1962.
Le Baroque musicale: Les Congrès et colloques de l’Universitè de Liège. Liège, 1964.
Windfuhr, M. Die Barocke Bildlichkeit und ihre Kritiker. Stuttgart, 1966.
A. A. MOROZOV (introduction, references),
B. N. BRIANTSEVA (music), and A. M. KANTOR (art and architecture)
["Computational Logic: Structure Sharing and Proof of program Properties", J. Moore, DCL Memo 67, U Edinburgh 1974].
See also rococo.