Baroque Art developed in Europe around the 17th century. Baroque art originally developed as a reaction against Mannerism, which dominated the later years of the Renaissance. Mannerism was “intricate and formulaic”, while Baroque art is less complex, more realistic and more emotionally appealing. Baroque art was encouraged by the Catholic Church, because the Catholic clergy saw it as a return to Catholic tradition and spirituality.
Several popular Baroque artists include: Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Bernini, Caracci, Vermeer, and Velazquez. Caravaggio, Rubens, and Rembrandt depicted religious ecstasy, physical sensuality, or individual psychology in their paintings. Peter Paul Rubens was perhaps one of the most famous of the Baroque artists. He was also a diplomat, linguist, and scholar. Typical Baroque subject matter depicted everyday scenes of life and the less animated still life. True Baroque art can be characterized by the bright colors, dramatic lighting, and the movement of subject matter. Baroque was meant to achieve an “unprecedented level of realism that in essence would join the work with the viewer”. The unity and balance of Baroque art allowed the subject matter to be honestly depicted. Therefore, the quality of this movement allowed the subjects of the works of art to reflect emotion and character. The Baroque artist achieved a remarkable harmony where painting, sculpture, and architecture were brought together in a new relationship, both real and illusionary. Painters and sculptors built and expanded on the naturalistic tradition reestablished during the Renaissance. Work was heightened by dramatic effects and created an unequaled sense of theatricality, energy, and movement of forms. Architecture came from the classical canon, which was revived during the Renaissance.
Rococo Art succeeded Baroque Art in Europe. It was most popular in France and is generally associated with the reign of King Louis XV (1715-1774). It is a light, elaborate and decorative style of art. Rococo artists include Jean-Honore Fragonard, François Boucher, Jean-Antoine Watteau and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. In France, the popularity of the Rococo style (also referred to as rocaille) was inspired in part by the works of painter Antoine Watteau. Watteau’s elegant paintings embody the Rococo ideal of grace and playfulness. In addition, the painter’s compositions often were asymmetrical. This asymmetry in turn became an important characteristic of Rococo art and design in general. The style appealed to the senses rather than intellect, stressing beauty over depth. It was welcomed in the Catholic parts of Germany, Bohemia, and Austria where it was merged with the German Baroque traditions.The movement portrayed the life of the aristocracy, and it preferred themes of romance, mythology, fantasy, every day life to historical or religious subject matter. Other elements of the style
included graceful movement, playful use of line, and delicate coloring. The Rococo style was also used in portraiture and furniture and tapestry design. Rococo was eventually replaced by Neoclassicism.