The Catholic Church welcomed the baroque style and encouraged it at every turn as they felt that the arts should communicate religious themes.

The Baroque style contained images that played with the interaction between light and dark to create dimly lit scenes that produced a dramatic atmosphere with high-contrast between the focal points of the art vs the background. This referred to as the chiaroscuro technique. Some of the most well known painters of this period are Caravaggio, Rubens and Rembrandt. Music also flourished during the Baroque period with masters such as Bach, Handel and Vivaldi.

The later Baroque style was termed Rococo , a style characterized by increasingly decorative and elaborate works.

Did you know?

Michelangelo Caravaggio became an almost instant celebrity at the young age of 24. However, his life was short lived, mostly due to his short temper, arrogance and habit of instigating a fight.  One of these fights ended in an accidental murder, of which Caravaggio was eventually pardoned, only to die of fever on his trip back to Rome from Naples. Read the whole story about Caravaggio, an artists many thought had the potential to surpass even Michelangelo himself.

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Below is some basic information on Baroque art and its characteristics and influences. If you would like to print off a copy of this page along with samples of art from this period, you can download the Baroque Summary above.

Rembrandt van Rijn
Rembrandt van Rijn

Famous for his portraits, Rijn was skilled at using light and shadows to create depth. His painting The Night Watch, pictured here, is one of the most famous paintings in the world.

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Johannes Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer

Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of Vermeer’s most famous and recognizable pieces. His use of color and shading distinguishes him from other artists. He achieved this by layering multiple colors over each other to get a particular look. His pieces were usually very vivid with bright colors and expert use of light and dark shadows.

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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Caravaggio was considered one of the most revolutionary artists of his time. He is often credited with creating the Baroque style. As can be seen in this painting titled The Cardsharps, Caravaggio’s artwork diverted from the path of religion and idealization of man seen in previous movements.

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Quick Facts:
  • Fell short of the high standards set by the Renaissance movement

  • Usually consisted of large-scale works of public art such as frescoes

Characteristics and/or Types of Art:
  • Dramatic use of light and shade

  • Depicted emotional events

  • Featured religious subjects in everyday life

  • Scientific discovery

  • Catholic church

  • Increased awareness of people and surroundings