The principal European style in the visual arts in the 17th century and the first half of the 18th; generally considered to be characteristic of the period of Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, Giordano and Tiepolo in painting, Bernini in sculpture, and Borromini, Fischer von Erlach and Wren in architecture Usage of the term is often extended to the whole period 1600–1750 without qualifying restrictions, or improperly to mean a florid and elaborate style in art, architecture, music or literature, of any date from late antiquity to the early 20th century
The Baroque is often thought of as a period of artistic style which used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, literature, dance, theatre, and music The style began around 1600 in Rome and Italy, and spread to most of Europe
The popularity and success of the Baroque style was encouraged by the Catholic Church, which had decided at the time of the Council of Trent, in response to the Protestant Reformation, that the arts should communicate religious themes with direct and emotional involvement The aristocracy viewed the dramatic style of Baroque art and architecture as a means of impressing visitors by projecting triumph, power, and control Baroque palaces are built around an entrance of courts, grand staircases, and reception rooms of sequentially increasing opulence However, “baroque” has a resonance and application that extend beyond a simple reduction to either a style or period
The Swiss-born art historian Heinrich Wölfflin (1864–1945) started the rehabilitation of the word Baroque in his Renaissance und Barock (1888); Wölfflin identified the Baroque as “movement imported into mass”, an art antithetic to Renaissance art He did not make the distinctions between Mannerism and Baroque that modern writers do, and he ignored the later phase, the academic Baroque that lasted into the 18th century Long despised, Baroque art and architecture became fashionable between the two World Wars, and has largely remained in critical favour For example, the often extreme Sicilian Baroque architecture is today recognised largely due to the work of Sir Sacheverall Sitwell, whose Southern Baroque Art of 1924 was the first book to appreciate the style, followed by the more academic work of Anthony Blunt In painting the gradual rise in popular esteem of Caravaggio has been the best barometer of modern taste
The Baroque originated around 1600, several decades after the Council of Trent (1545–63), by which the Roman Catholic Church answered many questions of internal reform and formulated policy on the representational arts by demanding that paintings and sculptures in church contexts should speak to the illiterate rather than to the well-informed Many[quantify] art historians see this turn toward a populist conception of the function of ecclesiastical art as driving the innovations of Caravaggio and of the brothers Agostino and Annibale Carracci, all of whom were working (and competing for commissions) in Rome around 1600
The appeal of Baroque style turned consciously from the witty, intellectual qualities of 16th-century Mannerist art to a visceral appeal aimed at the senses It employed an iconography that was direct, simple, obvious, and theatrical (illustration, right) Baroque art drew on certain broad and heroic tendencies in Annibale Carracci and his circle, and found inspiration in other artists like Correggio and Caravaggio and Federico Barocci (illustration, right), nowadays sometimes termed ‘proto-Baroque’ Germinal ideas of the Baroque can also be found in the work of Michelangelo Some general parallels in music make the expression “Baroque music” useful: there are contrasting phrase lengths, harmony and counterpoint have ousted polyphony, and orchestral colour makes a stronger appearance Even more generalised parallels perceived by some experts in philosophy, prose style and poetry, are harder to pinpoint
the Baroque was successfully developed in Rome, where Baroque architecture widely renewed the central areas with perhaps the most important urbanistic revision.