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A Brief Overview of Baroque Art

Updated on February 9, 2009
"Doubting Thomas" by Caravaggio
"Doubting Thomas" by Caravaggio


Baroque Art first appeared in Italy and later moved throughout the rest of Europe. It was primarily associated with the religious tensions between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. In response to the Protestant Reformation the Catholic Church started the Counter-Reformation, which commissioned art that was as appealing and doctrine-oriented as possible to draw the masses to the church.

Colonization during this time period led to many exotic locales and models being used and the rise of the sciences eventually led to many paintings of landscaped devoid of human figures.


Baroque images are characterized by the dramatic lighting of figures against a darkened background. Unlike the traditional interpretation of religious figures, Baroque figures are often realistically presented and the models for pieces were often pulled right off the streets. This type of art delighted in content that gave a sense of energy, of tension and movement.  Ecstasy, especially religious ecstasy, was what a Baroque artist strived to portray. Baroque art was highly detailed, with an incredibly convincing rendering of the textures of cloth, skin, and wood grains. 

Notable Works and Artists

"The Conversion of St. Paul" by Caravaggio

"The Last Judgement of Christ" by Michelangelo

"Adoration of the Shepherds" by Nicolas Poussin

"The Night Watch" by Rembrandt

"St. George and the Dragon" by Peter Paul Rubens

"Las Meninas" by Diego Velazquez

"Girl With a Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermee


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    • profile image

      Jaminalong 7 years ago

      what is the tittle and artist who made the picture you used for your article?

    • yogeshsingh profile image

      yogeshsingh 8 years ago from Delhi

      Thanks very helpful for a new art student.