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Baroque and Rococo: Imagination, Values, Emotions Essay

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Updated: Apr 21st, 2021


Baroque art is the art whose artistic style used exaggerated motion, interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, and grandeur achieved through scale in architecture, painting, sculpture, dance, music, and literature. The style was instrumented by the Roman Catholic Church at around 1600 in Rome, Italy. This was later spread to other European countries. The church chose the style so that it could communicate religious themes in emotional involvement during the time of the Council of Trent. They saw the dramatic style of Baroque architecture and art as a way of impressing visitors (Carl & Charles, 2009).

The Baroque style was also known as the style of absolutism. The style dynamically reflected the growth of absolutist monarchies, and in power manifestation, it was the best. Notably, the painters, architects, and sculptors used aspects of this Baroque style in their work. Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Peter Paul Rubens are some of the prominent painters of the Baroque artistic style. There are several characteristics of the Baroque style of art, which include tenebrism. Here, there is usually one light source. Drama is brought into action when lighting and dark contrast, such as in shadows. Both affect the emotions and intensity of the piece. The second character is the unity of mood; a baroque depends on the mood. In this case, what is happy continues to be happy, and what is sad continues to be sad (Carl & Charles, 2009).

Another characteristic is realism and naturalism. Being a vital aspect of Baroque art, Rubens applied the use of reality in his art, “Saint George and the Dragon.” Saint George is muscular in his suit of armor and appears just like it was the case in his everyday life. His horse appears equally strong. Naturalism was also shown through the use of normal details that are unique to daily life. The third characteristic is the use of lines.

In Baroque pieces, lines were commonly featured to convey motion. A feeling of motion is, as a result of reducing the length of lines in a drawing to give an illusion of extension in space. The last character of the baroque art style is time. The artists were aware of time and used it to convey nature’s strength, considering how time was a part of life’s process (Carl & Charles, 2009).

Religion was the determinant aspect of Baroque art. It all started with the Roman Catholic Church to combat the spread of Protestantism. It employed this art as a means of propagating the faith. Politics also influenced art. Monarchies of France and Spain used the art that was reflected in their size and splendor of the majesty of their kings (Carl & Charles, 2009).


This is a style of art that started in Paris, France, after the Baroque in the early 18th century. It is also called the late Baroque. The aspects of the arts that were affected include painting, sculpture’s interior design, and decoration, among others. This art style placed emphasis on portraying the carefree life of the aristocracy rather than on martyrs and heroes. The Rococo designs were best presented on a small scale as they were mostly done indoors (Baur & Walther, 2007).

There were several characteristics of the Rococo style of art. They included decorations that were asymmetrical and dynamic. Natural elements such as shells, coral, conches, and waves were used in art. One could not see cleanliness in the Rococo. The curves were soft, and it looked like the furniture had been carved from a single piece of wood that was painted to complete unity illusion. The style flourished during the rich aristocratic milieu in France (Baur & Walther, 2007).

Rococo developed as a reaction against the strict regulations of the Baroque, especially in the Palace of Versailles. The Rococo artists opted for a more aggressive approach than the case of Baroque art and architecture. They organized playful and often witty artistic themes. The Rococo too played an important role in theatre (Baur & Walther, 2007).

The Baroque and Rococo art styles

Though closely related, there are some differences between the two art periods. The Baroque style emphasized movement, contrast, and variety. Looking at painter Caravaggio, he used dark colors in the background that contrasted with lights in the foreground. In his picture “the three musicians,” a stringed instrument is tuned at the center while the musician on the right sets down some violin to study music. The assistant on the left is reaching for grapes. On the other hand, the third player in the background is depicted holding a flute. The movement in the entire picture and the variety of different figures doing different things is depicted here. Rulers in the 1700s were anxious to boast of their wealth and power. For instance, Louis XIV of France used the Baroque style in his courts, where it underwent a transformation. They changed from bold to festive to a new, lighter, and graceful art style, known as the Rococo style.

The Rococo style was characterized by various features such as free, graceful movement. Other features included a playful use of lines and soft colors. Antoine Watteau’s pictures “La Partie Quarr’ee” showed happy men and women enjoying life. The work shows a gathering of well-up people in a dreamy park-like setting. Very delicate colors of gold and gray stand out in the foreground while the background is very dark (Baur & Walther, 2007).

The Baroque reflected religion-related matters. For instance, when the religious leaders criticized the Rococo style. They said that the advances were sweeping the world as people began to be less devoted to God and that subjects began turning their backs on religion. This was mostly the Catholic Church’s attempt to retain its influence in the face of challenging scientific advances that directly complicated some of the church’s teaching (Carl & Charles, 2009).

However, in Rococo art, there are no matters related to religious subjects. I agree that churches were built and decorated in the Rococo style. Nonetheless, in the real sense, there is no evidence of religion in the paintings. This is also a reflection of times during the Age of Enlightenment (18th century). During this time, the right to divine of kings was disestablished, and rationalism and secularism dominated. When compared to Baroque art, it can be established that the Rococo style was quite optimistic.

The Rococo art style also unfolds the bent of the times satirically. Unlike the Baroque view of life, the Rococo style found happiness in life and enjoyed it. They painted life that was enjoyable. Since the Baroque focused only on Europe, the Rococo style enjoyed being exotic. In my opinion, the earlier historical art period (Baroque) should be continued. This tradition can be associated with the church because it was not exaggerated. In its invention, religion used the style as a way of communication. It favored even the unlearned since what was drawn to convey the message the church wanted to communicate easily. The Baroque style should be treasured as the founder of the other artistic periods. This style attracted both the Catholic Church and political leaders during those times.

The Rococo artistic style originated in France during the 1700s, while the Baroque artistic style originated in Rome. These artistic styles do not differ a lot. The Rococo is similar to the Baroque, but it is quite advanced. It had French art and culture, and thus it was embraced by citizens of other countries who used to imitate French aristocrats. The Baroque style refers to architecture, while the Rococo style refers to the interiors such as decoration, design, and furniture, among others. The other difference is that, in Baroque painting, the painters used the style in painting. Therefore, it can be noted that the Rococo’s origin can be found in the Baroque architectural work.

Later on, the Rococo style had a great influence on the art world. The regional families of builders of Central Europe inspired the architects and went further building churches and palaces. This took the German Baroque art style to higher heights of the Rococo establishments. Notably, the formal and exotic Rococo style was seen in France among the court artists and general artistic fashion because of Louis XIV’s succession. During his reign, the designs of the Rococo style were often seen in tune with his excesses. In the 1730s, the Rococo development in France had grown to higher heights. The style had grown beyond architecture and furniture to include sculpture and painting. It still maintained the Baroque taste for complex forms.


Baur, E. G., & Walther, I. F. (2007). Rococo. Köln: Taschen.

Carl, K. H., & Charles, V. (2009). Baroque art. New York: Parkstone International.

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