Baroque is a term used to describe the predominant style of European architecture, music, and art of the 17th and 18th centuries.
The term "Baroque" originated from the Portuguese word barroco, which means "misshapen pearl." Barroco was used first to criticize the overly ornate music of the Baroque era. It was later also applied to art, fashion, and architecture of the period, but eventually lost its pejorative tone.
Though relatively minor, the 20th and 21st centuries have seen a renewed and prolonged interest in Baroque music, art, and motifs. Famously, Dolce and Gabbana's 2012 collection of Baroque-inspired clothing confirmed a subtle, decades-long trend: a comeback for some of the Baroque era's most recognizable patterns and colors.
- Artemisia Gentileschi
The Baroque artistic movement is characterized by its melodramatic tableaus, lavish ornamentation, use of deep colors, chiaroscuro, and asymmetry. The paintings most commonly depict scenes from the Bible or Greek mythology and portraits of nobility.
Common visuals include:
- Religious figures (saints, angels, demons, etc.)
- Mythical creatures
- Ancient Greek and Roman characters
- Celestial bodies (planets, constellations, sun/moon, etc.)
- Painted ceilings
- Musical instruments
- Memento mori
- Masquerade balls
- Large, grand churches
- Ornate palaces
- Opera houses
- Pastoral scenes (flower baskets, shepherds, lovers in the woods, etc.)
- Statement jewelry with large gemstones
- Long, trailing dresses
- Ballroom gowns
- Flowing capes
- Ornate/patterned coats and blazers
- Gold filigree jewelry
- Brocade trimming
- Pointed toe heels
Patterns, fabrics and materials:
- Toile de Jouy
- Fleur de lis
In architecture, the Baroque period is defined by grandeur: gilded ornamentation, lavish decoration, and spaciousness. The Palace of Versailles and the work of Bernini in Italy exemplify this style.
Baroque music is spirited and extravagant, much like its artistic and architectural counterparts. It is characterized by winding, florid melodies, and the bass line often serves as a "heartbeat" which drives the music forward.
Well known Baroque composers and some examples of their work:
- Johann Sebastian Bach
- Antonio Vivaldi
- Jean-Baptiste Lully
- George Frederic Handel
- Arcangelo Corelli
- Henry Purcell
Rococo, often called late Baroque, was an architectural and artistic style developed in France in the first half of the eighteenth century. The king of France, Louis XV, is often thought to be a key patron and supporter of the movement -- a very likely hypothesis considering the monarch's need to differentiate himself from the king who proceeded him: Louis XIV (a key patron of the Baroque style). Rococo takes all of the tropes and trends of Baroque art and exaggerates them until there is nothing but ornamentation and artifice left.
LGBT Influence and Contributions
In recent decades, some LGBT people have adopted the Baroque aesthetic as part of their stage or performing act. The trailblazing singer Klaus Nomi used Baroque music, motifs, and costumes in his performances in the 1970s and especially the 1980s. Presently, the singer Prince Poppycock dons stylized Baroque costumes for performances. The popular dancer Carlos Fittante specializes in Baroque-era dance, and often performs in full costume; this dancing provided healing after his partner died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City.