The Baroque was encouraged in its development and influence on the society by the Roman Catholic Church. It was the time of a populist conception of the function of ecclesiastical art that managed to provide the equilibrium between religious and secular forces. The Baroque presented the works of famous masters, such as Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Rubens, Rembrandt and many others, who contributed to the world’s artistic cultural heritage. The artworks of the Baroque period emphasized the peculiarities of the society of the 17th and 18th centuries and had a significant impact on the further development of art and public opinion.
In 1600-1750, the Baroque period occurred in Italy and spread through Europe (“Baroque Art,” n.d.). It was the time of the religious populism for the society as a reaction of the Roman Catholic Church against the revolutionary cultural movements. The new direction of art became a new attempt of the Church to control all spheres of the society’s life. Three major intellectual and cultural tendencies had a profound impact on Baroque art (Fitzpatrick, 2016). The emergence of the Counter-Reformation transformed art into the means of spreading and stimulating the public’s faith in the Church both intellectually and territorially. The second tendency was the consolidation of absolute monarchies and introduction of the middle class as a powerful force in art patronage. A new interest in nature and the development of human intelligence became the third tendency that influenced Baroque art. The intensive developments in science and maritime explorations became the part of the society’s life and had their reflection in art (Fitzpatrick, 2016).
The Biblical episodes and religious concepts became the objects of many artworks. The expression of liturgical themes was one of the defining aspects of music. The Baroque artists introduced religion and biblical scenes to establish a connection between the Church and society. Moreover, they helped to make religion and the institution of the Church more attractive and understandable to a wider society. The painted ceilings, sculptures, monuments, and other church decorations are among the architectural heritage of the Baroque. The soapstone Aleijadinho’s sculptures of the Old Testament prophets around the terrace of the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus in Congonhas and Bernini’s statue of St. Theresa in Ecstasy in the Cornaro Chapel in Rome are among the greatest works of Baroque sculpture.
Bold massing, domes, colonnades, color effects, the combination of light and shade are among the major features of the Baroque architecture (“Baroque Art,” n.d.). The works of Bernini, Francesco Borromini, Carlo Maderno, and Guarino Guarini are the architectural monuments of the time. Ludwigsburg Palace, the Zwinger in Dresden, Peterhof, the Catherine Palace, and Melk Abbey are the prominent examples of the architectural masterpieces.
Baroque painting is famous for its rich forms and styles. Iconography, ceiling frescoes, and portraits had obvious and dramatic motives and intended to appeal to the emotions and senses. The use of the technique known as chiaroscuro, the interplay between darkness and light, is one of the main peculiarities of Baroque visual art (Fitzpatrick, 2016). Grandeur, drama, tension, vitality, movement, sensuous richness, and emotional exuberance were among the most frequent qualities of the artworks of Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, and Domenichino. The presence of movement was important in the paintings of the Baroque because it made the artworks realistic and attractive to public (Fitzpatrick, 2016).
In music, the Baroque style presents liturgical themes emphasizing the canon of classical music and increasingly decorative and elaborate patterns. The Baroque period was the culmination of the development of musical styles, such as cantata, sonata, and oratorio. New musical styles emerged as well: concerto, opera, and symphony. Johann Sebastian Bach, George Handel, and Antonio Vivaldi were the most famous Baroque composers (“Baroque Art,” n.d.).
The Baroque was the period of establishment of new types of relationships between the Church and society. The works of artists of the time helped to restore the prestige of the Church and became the symbols of the Catholic Reformation. Baroque art presented the populism of religion and the development of scientific knowledge. The heritage of the 17th and 18th centuries introduces a diversity of the styles and forms of art. As a result, the further development of art and society owed its progress to the achievements of the Baroque.