Baroque is a term generally accepted to describe the paintings of the 17th Century, as well as the architecture, sculpture and music. Baroque Art was originally a pejorative term meaning 'irregular.' Today, we look back on the 17th Century as a Golden Age of Art for The Netherlands, France and Spain. In this Hub, we will look at paintings from the Baroque Period, and the artists who painted them.
Caravaggio (1571-1610) is a painter of genius from Milan, Italy. Breaking from the idealization of the past, he painted ordinary people in sacred scenes. Caravaggio was a controversial fellow who had trouble with the police most of his life, was imprisoned many times, and once killed a man in a duel. His mastery of light and dark would influence artists for decades. Caravaggio died of malaria.
Peter Paul Rubens
Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) is the great Flemish painter of Baroque Art. Known as a virtuous Christian man of the highest character and intelligence, he seemingly had no limits as to what he could paint due to enormous ability. Rubens was influenced immensely by the Italian painting traditions. His paintings seem alive and glow with sensuous color.
Hendrick Terbrugghen (1588-1629) is a Dutch follower of Caravaggio from Utrecht. One can see the strong emotional and social realism in his work. Hendrick Terbrugghen would influence many of the Dutch masters. While his name does not carry the prestige of the others on this page, I am fond of this specific painting, therefore his inclusion here.
Claude Lorrain (1600-1682) was born into poverty in Champagne, France, but spent most of his life in Rome. He is famous in Baroque Art for virtually reinventing landscape painting, utilizing his amazing powers of observation. Claude Lorrain widely influenced subsequent landscape painting in Europe and America. His aim was not topographical accuracy but to convey the essence of a landscape.
Velazquez (1599-1660) is of Portuguese descent but was born in Seville, Spain. He lived the majority of his days in Madrid, painting the royal family for King Philip IV. Velazquez was hailed as a genius by his 20th birthday. He was fascinated with the fleeting effects of light. Velazquez is recognized today as the master illusionist of Baroque Art, who approached painting as a noble profession.
Vermeer (1632-1675) is a painter of Baroque Art whose work is hard to describe and even harder to forget. He was forgotten by the art world for 200 years before being "discovered" late in the 19th Century. Vermeer created perfect paintings that are truly unique. He is the master of light—used to symbolically express his beliefs.
Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691) is a master landscape painter of Baroque Art from Holland. His family were all artists and wealthy. Cuyp portrayed radiant light to create poetic atmospheres in his landscapes. He was also an excellent draftsman and that is apparent in his compositional structures. The majority of Cuyp's paintings are in England, where he was most popular.
Jan Steen (1626-1679) is a Dutch genre painter of Baroque Art. He also owned a tavern and a brewery, which helps explain his keen insights into ordinary daily life of his day. Steen is a master storyteller with a grand sense of humor. But if you look closely, there is a moral to the story. Steen is known to have used his own family as models, and he left behind over 800 paintings.
Murillo (1617-1682) is an eminent figure in Baroque Art. He was from Seville and also lived in Madrid for five years. Murillo was the most famous Spanish artist in the world until the popularity of Velazquez eclipsed his in the 19th Century. He was an extraordinary painter of people, particularly women and children, showing an unusual depth of warmth and expressiveness in faces.