Baroque Era

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What were the primary influences that shaped the Baroque form in Italian and northern European Art and Architecture?

Many believe the term Baroque derives from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning an irregularly shaped pearl (Sayre 677). Originally, it was used in a derogatory manner with connotations of bizarre and strange, implying bad taste. Ironically, some of the most profound and beautiful works of art and architecture were created in this era. Religion, economics, the rise of absolute monarchy, and an overall style transition of a new generation together influenced the compelling and timeless style known as Baroque. Undoubtedly, Baroque form owes it origin to the religious conflicts occurring between the 1600 and 1700s. Many of the style usage in Baroque art and architecture were devoted to furthering the aims of the Counter Reformation. During this time the Catholic Church had lost many followers in Europe who joined a new religious movement called “The Protestant Reformation”. In an attempt to win back the sections of Europe that had been lost and reestablish current relationships, the Catholic Church decided to use elaborately decorative religious art full of excitement and sensuality to invoke human emotion and feeling. The Catholic Church became aware that they could no longer aim for just the educated elite but must aim for the poor and growing middle class. By glorifying Saints and using vivid theatrical methods full of color and contrast to portray biblical scenes, they caught the attention of the everyday people. Works like Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Theresa and Andrea Pozzo’s Apotheosis of Saint Ignatius are both prime examples of the Catholic churches religious marketing campaign. At the same time the Protestant Church was very conservative and therefore restricted it’s art due to its strict doctrine. Calvinists believed that churches and church services should be simple, free of distraction (Baniulytė, Aušra). A classic example of this is...
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