Renaissance to Neoclassicism - Baroque - Italian

Movement: Renaissance to Neoclassicism - Baroque - Italian
Dates: 1584 - c. 1700

The first building in Rome to have a Baroque facade was the Church of the Ges in 1584; it was plain by later Baroque standards, but marked a break with the traditional Renaissance facades that preceded it. The interior of this church remained very austere until the high Baroque, when it was lavishly ornamented.

In Rome in 1605, Paul V became the first of series of popes who commissioned basilicas and church buildings designed to inspire emotion and awe through a proliferation of forms, and a richness of colours and dramatic effects. Among the most influential monuments of the Early Baroque were the facade of St. Peter's Basilica (16061619), and the new nave and loggia which connected the facade to Michelangelo's dome in the earlier church. The new design created a dramatic contrast between the soaring dome and the disproportionately wide facade, and the contrast on the facade itself between the Doric columns and the great mass of the portico.

In the mid to late 17th century the style reached its peak, later termed the High Baroque. Many monumental works were commissioned by Popes Urban VIII and Alexander VII. The sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed a new quadruple colonnade around St. Peter's Square (1656 to 1667). The three galleries of columns in a giant ellipse balance the oversize dome and give the Church and square a unity and the feeling of a giant theatre.

Another major innovator of the Italian High Baroque was Francesco Borromini, whose major work was the Church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane or Saint Charles of the Four Fountains (163446). The sense of movement is given not by the decoration, but by the walls themselves, which undulate and by concave and convex elements, including an oval tower and balcony inserted into a concave traverse. The interior was equally revolutionary; the main space of the church was oval, beneath an oval dome.

Painted ceilings, crowded with angels and saints and trompe-l'il architectural effects, were an important feature of the Italian High Baroque. Major works included The Entry of Saint Ignatius into Paradise by Andrea Pozzo (16851695) in the Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome, and The triumph of the name of Jesus by Giovanni Battista Gaulli in the Church of the Ges in Rome (16691683), which featured figures spilling out of the picture frame and dramatic oblique lighting and light-dark contrasts. The style spread quickly from Rome to other regions of Italy: It appeared in Venice in the church of Santa Maria della Salute (16311687) by Baldassare Longhena, a highly original octagonal form crowned with an enormous cupola. It appeared also in Turin, notably in the Chapel of the Holy Shroud (16681694) by Guarino Guarini. The style also began to be used in palaces; Guarini designed the Palazzo Carignano in Turin, while Longhena designed the Ca' Rezzonico on the Grand Canal, (1657), finished by Giorgio Massari with decorated with paintings by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. A series of massive earthquakes in Sicily required the rebuilding of most of them and several were built in the exuberant late Baroque or Rococo style.

External links

  • The baroque and rococo culture
  • Webmuseum Paris
  • barocke in Val di Noto Sizilien
  • Baroque in the "History of Art"
  • The Baroque style and Luis XIV influence
  • Melvyn Bragg's BBC Radio 4 program In Our Time: The Baroque
  • "Baroque Style Guide". British Galleries. Victoria and Albert Museum. Archived from the original on 19 August 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2007.

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