The Influence of Baroque Art on Rococo Art

The Influence of Baroque Art on Rococo Art

Seventeenth century is the time when Baroque Art started its development in Europe as a reaction and response to the religious Mannerism, which was the dominant feature of the late period of Renaissance. As opposed to formulaic and intricate Mannerism with its complex compositions and flattened forms, Baroque Art was simpler and more realistic. The Catholic Church encouraged artists to exhibit strong religious characteristics in their works.

It should be noted, that Baroque Art developed in the period of absolute monarchies in Spain and France, therefore, artists of that time created works to reflect the majesty of their kings, Philip IV and Louis XIV respectively. It was the time of great scientific discoveries, colonization of other lands, and international trade. Religion was strong and influential, thus Baroque Art was the perfect means to promote and propagate the faith through the works of the artists (Sullivan, 1994).

Baroque Art has the following characteristics: tenebrism, or one source of light, makes works look more dramatic, with the contrast of light and dark affecting the emotions, making them more intense. Realism is another characteristic feature of Baroque Art just like the lines that are frequently used in the works of that period in order to convey the feeling of motion. Many artists of Baroque period used time to show the nature’s strength and that time was the part of life.

Rococo Art was the successor of Baroque Art in Europe in the eighteenth century and was mostly popular in France. It reflected the rise to the throne of the new king, Louis V, and changes in the style that the new king brought with his rise. King Louis led a lifestyle of excess, so did his court, therefore, Rococo reflected the style of the upper class and the royalty (, 2008).

Characteristic features of Rococo Art were asymmetrical forms, fanciful design, swirling shapes, extraordinary detail, and the overall playfulness of the works of art, furniture, sculpture. The painters used light and delicate colors, decorated their paintings with cherubs and Greek gods and goddesses. Artists wanted to depart from religious themes, characteristic of Baroque period of Art, therefore their paintings were frivolous, joyful, with whimsical compositions and playful depiction of life, mostly of domestic life in upper class families.

Both art periods have their similarities and differences. Baroque as well as Rococo styles reflect the changing times of the seventeenth-eighteenth centuries with their advances in science and philosophy. Both styles had more color and emotion than the styles that preceded them, although Baroque paintings were otherworldly, ominous, with dark subjects, sometimes even with violent scenes present.

There are more differences, though, between the two styles. While both styles reflected the times, during which they developed, Baroque was more religion oriented in comparison to Rococo. Baroque style paintings and sculptures depicted religious themes, for instance, sculpture The Ecstasy of St. Teresaby Bernini or Peter Paul Rubens’ painting The Raising of the Cross.

Rococo art, on the other hand, almost had no subjects of religious nature. There was no religion in paintings, although some churches were built and decorated in the style of Rococo art. The eighteenth century was the Age of Enlightenment, which can explain why life and art drifted away from religion at that time (Marquit, 2006). Rococo art paints life with humor, as something exuberant and frivolous, sometimes even satirically, while works of Baroque artists depict life that is empty, fleeting, and futile.

Another difference between the styles can be seen in the focus of attention of Rococo and Baroque. The later focused on Europe, while the former turned its attention to the exotic locations. The pagoda was imported in Europe during Rococo art period. There was one built in Kew Gardens by Sir William Chambers (Marquit, 2006). Perhaps, it is possible to say that Rococo was a lighter and more refined version of Baroque, showing the approach to life where there was less religion and more science. People gained new knowledge, broadened their horizons in science and philosophy, so it was obvious that new shift in people’s conscience would reflect in art as well.

One of the most significant works of Baroque Art is Caravaggio’s Flight into Egypt (, 2009). This work can be easily identified as belonging to Baroque style as it depicts scenes of religious character, it contains realistic subjects, has the tones and light characteristic of that style. As for Rococo style, one of the greatest representatives of the style was Jean-Antoine Watteau and his painting The Lesson of Love (, 2013). The painting depicted aristocrats in elegant clothes enjoying their time in the pastoral setting. Both works show how much two styles differed – the theme, the colors used, the use of shadow and light, the manner of painting, etc.

Baroque and Rococo styles were important periods in the development of European art, although historical significance of Rococo style in general is not proven, it should not be regarded as something insignificant. Modern fashion and interior designers use Rococo style as an inspiration for their works, proving that this style is something that can last forever and will be the source of inspiration for many generations to come.

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