A Brief Overview of the Baroque Style
Characterized by an elaborately ornate and highly adorned aesthetic that aims to inspire a sense of awe, Baroque is an extravagant and complex style of art and architecture associated with grandeur and luxury. Evoking ethereality through the use of unexpected and dramatic contrasts, Baroque décor often incorporates movement with bold, curving forms, intricate details, and vivid colors, while maintaining an overall balance of its disparate parts. The information that follows explores a brief history and overview of the Baroque style.
The Baroque style emerged in Rome during the seventeenth century, following the Renaissance and Mannerism movements. Its popularity flourished throughout the first half of the eighteenth century, spreading across Northern Italy and other European countries including France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Southern Germany, and Russia. Part of the style’s momentum can be attributed its embrace by France’s King Louis XIV. His penchant for the style’s sense of opulence is illustrated through the design of the Palace of Versailles.
With a rich color palette dominated by dark reds and greens with gold accents, the materials that were popular to the Baroque style included marble and granite along with velvet, silk, and brocade fabrics, which were often are often damask or floral patterned. Intricately designed gilt-wood and marquetry furniture featured detailed and symmetrical carvings that commonly depicted shells or decorative garlands.
Baroque interiors often incorporated elaborate design elements such as bronze sculptures, lavish tapestries, large mirrors, crystal chandeliers, and luxurious textiles. The style often played out across rich interior finishing elements such as stucco, pilasters, entablatures, and friezes. Elements of Baroque ornamentation included scrollwork, trompe l’oeil paintings, and frescoes. Architecture, décor, and furniture of this style are often symmetrical, while depictions of shells and garland are also frequently used.
Aiming to create a sense of movement, sofas, dining chairs, tables, and cabinets were ornamented with irregular curves, elaborate scrolls, oversized moldings, and twisted columns. Decorative marriage chests—which are called cassini—often incorporated many of these organic details, while candles and lanterns are habitually showcased within interiors that follow this style. Expansive hand-woven rugs were also often employed Baroque interiors. With elaborate and intricate elements that maintain an enduring appeal, this classic style continues to be spotted throughout contemporary interiors.