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The Baroque World. Outline Chapter 15. Chapter 15: The Baroque World OUTLINE The Counter-Reformation Spirit The Visual Arts in the Baroque Period Painting in Rome: Caravaggio and the Carracci Roman Baroque Sculpture and Architecture: Bernini and Borromini

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outline chapter 15
Outline Chapter 15

Chapter 15:

The Baroque World


The Counter-Reformation Spirit

The Visual Arts in the Baroque Period

Painting in Rome: Caravaggio and the Carracci

Roman Baroque Sculpture and Architecture:

Bernini and Borromini

Baroque Art in France and Spain

Baroque Art in Northern Europe

Baroque Music

The Birth of Opera

Baroque Instrumental and Vocal Music:

Johann Sebastian Bach

Philosophy and Science in the Baroque Period



Hobbes and Locke

Literature in the Seventeenth Century

French Baroque Comedy and Tragedy

The Novel in Spain: Cervantes

The English Metaphysical Poets

Milton's Heroic Vision

timeline chapter 15
Timeline Chapter 15
  • Timeline Chapter 15: The Baroque World
  • 1534 Loyola establishes the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
  • 1601 Caravaggio, The Calling of Saint Matthew
  • 1620 Artemesia Gentileschi, Judith and Holofernes
  • 1629 Bernini appointed official architect of St. Peter's, Rome
  • 1632 Galileo, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
  • 1639 Poussin, Et in Arcadia, Ego
  • 1642 Rembrandt, Night Watch
  • 1645 Bernini, Saint Teresa in Ecstasy
  • 1656 Velázquez, Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor)
  • 1665 Vermeer, The Girl With Pearl Earring
  • 1682 Louis XIV moves court to Versailles
  • Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding;
  • Second Treatise on Government
  • 1720 Vivaldi, The Four Seasons
  • 1721 J. S. Bach, Brandenburg Concertos
the counter reformation spirit
The Counter-Reformation Spirit

If the history and culture of the sixteenth century were profoundly affected by the Reformation, the prime element to influence those of the seventeenth century was the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church's campaign to regain its authority and influence. By clarifying and forcefully asserting their teaching, backed up with a vigorous program of missionary work, church leaders aimed to present a positive and optimistic appearance that would eliminate past discords.

In this example of Catholic propaganda, the Pope holds his ears while

Calvin and Luther battle, with the Bible as one of the weapons.

counter reformation art
Counter-Reformation Art

Among the resources used by Counter-Reformation reformers were the arts. Imposing architectural complexes like Saint Peter's Square in Rome, paintings and sculptures, music and verse could all serve to reinforce the glory of the church. In some cases works were commissioned officially; in others artists responded individually to the spirit of the times. Bernini's Saint Teresa in Ecstasy, a statue that reflects the artist's own devout faith, was commissioned for the church in Rome in which it still stands. Richard Crashaw's poetry represents a more personal response to the religious ideas of his day.


The Ecstasy

of Saint Therese1647-52Marble

Saint Peter's Square and

Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome

the rise of science
The Rise of Science

For all the importance of religion, the seventeenth century was also marked by significant developments in philosophy and science. Galileo, the father of modern physics, revolutionized astronomy by proving Copernicus' claims of the previous century correct. Thinkers like Descartes and Hobbes, instead of accepting official church teachings, tried to examine the problems of human existence by their own intellectual approaches. Descartes was the founder of modern rational thought (although a believer in a supreme being); Hobbes was the first modern materialist





the arts in the baroque period
The Arts in the Baroque Period

The principal artistic style of the seventeenth century was the baroque, a term originally used for the visual arts but also applied by extension to the other arts of the period. Although the Baroque style was created in Italy, it spread quickly throughout Europe and was even carried to the New World by missionaries.

common features of the arts of the baroque period
Common Features of the Arts of the Baroque Period

Baroque art is marked by a wide range of achievements, but there are a number of common features. Artists in the seventeenth century were concerned to express strong emotions, either religious or personal. This in turn led to an interest in exploring human behavior from a psychological point of view. With the new subjects came new techniques, many of them emphasizing the virtuosity of the artist. These in turn led to the invention of new forms: in music that of opera, in painting that of landscape scenes, to take only two examples

baroque painting
Baroque Painting

The chief characteristics of baroque painting were created in Rome around 1600 by two artists. Caravaggio's work is emotional and dominated by strong contrasts of light and darkness. Annibale Carracci painted scenes of movement and splendor, many on classical themes. Both strongly influenced their contemporaries and successors. Caravaggio's use of light was the forerunner of the work of artists as diverse as the Spaniard Vel·zquez and the Dutchman Vermeer, while Carracci's choice of classical subjects was followed by the French Poussin. The two greatest painters of northern Europe, Rembrandt and Rubens, were also influenced by the ideas of their day. Rembrandt used strong contrasts of light and dark to paint deeply felt religious scenes as well as the self-portraits that explore his own inner emotions. Rubens, one of the most versatile of artists, ranged from mythological subjects to historical paintings like the Marie de' Medici cycle to intimate personal portraits.

painting in rome caravaggio dark contrasts
Painting in Rome: Caravaggio – dark contrasts

The Taking of Christc. 1598Oil on canvas

The Fortune Teller1596-97Oil on canvas

St. John the Baptist

(Youth with Ram)c. 1600Oil on canvas

Supper at Emmaus1606Oil on canvas


with the Serpent1606Oil on canvas

painting in rome carracci brilliant light
Painting in Rome: Carracci – brilliant light

Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne1597-1602FrescoPalazzo Farnese, Rome

artemisia gentileschi
Artemisia Gentileschi

Susanna and the Elders1610Oil on canvas

Judith Beheading Holofernes1611-12Oil on canvas

baroque architecture
Baroque Architecture

Although the seventeenth century saw architects increasingly employed in designing private houses, most of the principal building projects were public. At Rome the leading architect was Bernini, also one of the greatest sculptors of the age, whose churches, fountains, and piazzas changed the face of the city. In his sculpture Bernini drew on virtually all the themes of Counter-Reformation art, including mythological and religious works and vividly characterized portraits. The other great building project of the century was the palace built for Louis XIV at Versailles, where the splendor of the Sun King was reflected in the grandiose decoration scheme.

The Ecstasy of S. Teresa of Avila,

the centerpiece of Bernini’s

Cornaro Chapel at the Church of

S. Maria della Vittoria in Rome

roman baroque sculpture and architecture bernini and borromini
Roman Baroque Sculpture and Architecture: Bernini and Borromini

Gian Lorenzo BERNINI


The headquarters of the Propaganda fide in Rome,

housed by architects Borromini and Bernini:

etching by Giuseppe Vasi, 1761

palace of louis xiv at versailles
Palace of Louis XIV at Versailles

Versailles Palace, facade

Versailles Palace, coutyard

baroque art in france and spain
Baroque Art in France and Spain
  • Georges de La Tour
  • Nicolas Poussin
  • Claude Le Lorrain (Claude Gellee)
  • El Greco
  • Diego Velazquez
georges de la tour
Georges de La Tour

Fortune Teller1632-35Oil on canvas

Magdalen of Night Light1630-35Oil on canvas

nicolas poussin
Nicolas Poussin

The Triumph of David1630-31

Midas and Bacchus1629-30Oil on canvas

The Rape of the Sabine Women1634-35Oil on canvas

claude le lorrain claude gellee
Claude Le Lorrain (Claude Gellee)

Landscape with Acis and GalatheOil on canvas

Embarkation of St Paula Romana at Ostia

Landscape with Apollo and MercuryOil on canvas

el greco
El Greco

The Pietà

(The Lamentation of Christ)1571-76Tempera on panel

Assumption of the Virgin1577Oil on canvas

View of Toledo1597-99Oil on canvas

Christ on the Cross1600-10Oil on canvas

diego vel zquez
Diego Velázquez

Peasants at the Table

(El Almuerzo)c. 1620Oil on canvas

Prince Baltasar

Carlos on Horseback1635-36Oil on canvas

The Immaculate Conceptionc. 1618Oil on canvas

diego vel zquez las meninas
Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas

Las Meninas1656-57Oil on canvas

This is a composition of enormous

representational impact. The Infanta

Margarita stands proudly amongst

her maids of honour, with a dwarf

to the right. Although she is the

smallest, she is clearly the central

figure; one of her maids is kneeling

before her, and the other leaning

towards her, so that the standing

Infanta, with her broad hooped skirt,

becomes the fulcrum of the

movement. The dwarf, about the

same size as the Infanta, is so ugly

that Margarita appears delicate,

fragile and precious in comparison.

On the left in the painting, dark

and calm, the painter himself can

be seen standing at his vast canvas.

Above the head of the Infanta, we

see the ruling couple reflected

in the mirror.

baroque art in northern europe
Baroque Art in Northern Europe
  • Rubens
  • Vermeer
  • Rembrandt

Venus at a Mirrorc. 1615

Virgin and Childc. 1604Oil on panel

The Union of Earth and Waterc. 1618Oil on canvas


Girl Reading a Letter

at an Open Window1657Oil on canvas

The Milkmaidc. 1658


Holding a Balance1662-63

View of Delft1659-60


The Anatomy Lecture

of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp1632Oil on canvas

Self-Portrait1659Oil on canvas

Descent from the Cross1634

music in the counter reformation
Music in the Counter-Reformation

In music, as in the visual arts, the Baroque period was one of experimentation and high achievement. Counter-Reformation policy required that music for church use should be easily understood and appreciated, as was already the case in the Protestant countries of northern Europe. At the same time there was a growing demand for secular music for performance both in public and at home.

17th Century Musical Instruments:

Violin, Recorder, Lute, Double Virginal

the birth of opera
The Birth of Opera

One of the most important innovations of the seventeenth century was opera. The first opera was performed just before 1600 in Florence, and by the middle of the century opera houses were being built throughout Europe to house the new art form. The first great composer of operas was the Italian Monteverdi, whose L'Orfeo is the earliest opera still to hold the stage. Among later musicians of the period to write works for the theater was the German Georg Frideric Handel, many of whose operas were composed to Italian texts for performance in England

bach and handel
Bach and Handel

Handel also wrote oratorios, sacred dramas performed without any staging; indeed the most famous of all oratorios is his Messiah. The oratorio was a form with a special appeal for Protestant Germans. The greatest of all Lutheran composers, Johann Sebastian Bach, wrote masterpieces in just about every musical form other than opera. Like many of the leading artists of the age, Bach produced works inspired by deep religious faith as well as pieces like the Brandenburg Concertos for private entertainment.



baroque literature
Baroque Literature

The baroque interest in emotion and drama, exemplified by the invention of opera, led to important developments in writing for the theater as well as in the style of poetic composition and the invention of new literary forms. In France the comedies of MoliËre and the tragedies of Corneille and Racine, written in part under the patronage of Louis XIV, illustrate the dramatic range of the period. The religious fervor of the English metaphysical poets is yet another sign of baroque artists' concern with questions of faith and belief. The more practical problems involved in reconciling ideals with the realities of life are described in Don Quixote, one of the first great novels in Western literature. The most monumental of all literary works of the seventeenth century, Milton's Paradise Lost, aimed to combine the principles of Renaissance humanism with Christian teaching. Its drama, spirituality, and psychological insight mark it as a truly baroque masterpiece.

Don Quijote and Sancho,

engraving, by Gustave Dore