Origin of Baroque Art (III)


Origin of Baroque Art (III)

Written by Alfonso Elizondo

According to the Council of Trent (1545-1563), Baroque art could serve religion by increasing familiarity with the Roman Catholic Church. So they created a different style of biblical art to support the Catholic Counter Reformation and convey the miracles and sufferings of the Saints to the European congregation.


This new style had to be more powerful, passionate and inspired, using the stronger realism promoted by the Jesuits. Architecture, painting and sculpture had to work together to create a united effect. This came with the arrival of Annibale Carracci and Caravaggio in Rome during the 1590s. Their presence sparked a new interest in Realism, as well as in the ancient forms that were taken over and developed in sculpture by Alessandro Algardi and in architecture by Bernini.

France had its own relationship with the Baroque and this was particularly evident at the Palace of Versailles. The key figure of the French Baroque in the seventeenth century was Charles Le Brun (1619 – 1690) who exerted an authority beyond his own space, that is, his own Gobelins tapestry factory. The Baroque also received support from Spain and Portugal, as well as the Catholic areas of Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Spanish Netherlands.

The culmination was the High Baroque (1625 – 1675), while the high point of the movement was the quadrature known as the Apotheosis of St. Ignatius (1685 – 94) painted by the illusionist ceiling painter Andrea Pozzo (1642 – 1709) who produced one of the best illusionist paintings of the seventeenth century.

In 1600, Naples, the second city in Europe after Paris, was an important Baroque art center for the Counter-Reformation. The Neapolitan school was established by Caravaggio, Ribera, Artemesia Gentileschi, Mattia Preti (1613 – 99), Luca Giordano (1634 – 1705), Francesco Solimene (1657 – 1747), etc.

In the late seventeenth century, the great Baroque style reached Russia until St. Petersburg was taken by Peter the Great (1686 – 1725) and Rastrelli, Gottefried Skadel, Domenico Trezzini, Andrea Scheutel, Michetti Matarnovi and other architects began to design the Russian style Baroque.

Towards the end of the 17th century, the great Baroque style was in decline, as was Italy. The closest European power was France, where a contrasting style of decorative art called ‘Rococo’ was emerging as the successor to the Baroque.

Addendum: I will finish this brief review of the Baroque in Europe with the Catholic Church’s fight against Protestantism and the list of the leading promoters of the Baroque style in the world.