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The Baroque is a cultural movement in art history following the Renaissance.

The Baroque period falls between the Mannerist and Roccoco periods, in a time in which the Roman Catholic Church had to react against the many revolutionary cultural movements that produced a new science and new forms of religion (Reformation).
It has been said that the monumental Baroque is a style that could give the Papacy a formal imposing way of expression that could restore its prestige, at the point of becoming somehow symbolic of the Counter-Reformation. Effectively, it was successfully developed in Rome, where Baroque architecture widely renewed the central areas with perhaps the most important urbanistic addition (or, more properly, revision). But many other examples are found in other European towns (and in the Spanish Americas). It has to be noted however that Baroque regarded many arts, and not only architecture, as a general cultural innovation.

The word "Baroque", like most period or stylistic designations, was invented by later critics rather than practitioners of the arts in the 17th and early 18th centuries. It is a French translation of the Italian word "Barocco"; some authors believe it comes from the portuguese "Barroco" (irregular pearl, or false jewel - notably, an ancient similar word, "Barlocco" or "Brillocco", is used in Roman dialect for the same meaning), or from a now obsolete Italian "Baroco" (that in logical Scholastica was used to indicate a syllogism with weak content). A common definition, before the term Barocco was used, called this genre simply the style of The Flying Forms.

The term "Baroque" was initially used with a derogatory meaning, to underline the excess of its emphasis, of its redundancy, its noisy abundance of details, as opposed to the clearer and sober rationality of the century of Enlightenment. It was finally rehabilitated in 1888 by the German art historian[?] Heinrich Woelfflin[?] (1864-1945), who identified Baroque as antithetic to Renaissance and as a different kind of art (thus, not a "non-art").

Baroque actually expressed new values, that often are summarised in the use of metaphor and allegory, which widely invaded Baroque literature, and in the research for the "maraviglia" (wonder, astonishment - as in Marinism), the use of artifices. If Mannerism was a first breach with Renaissance, Baroque was directly an opposed language and represented the evidence of the crisis of Renaissance neoclassical schemes. The psychological pain of Man, disbanded after the Copernican and the Lutheran revolutions, in search of solid anchors, in search of a proof of an ultimate human power, was in Baroque art as well as in its architecture. A relevant part of works was made on religious themes, since the Roman Church was the main "customer".

Virtuosity was researched by artists (and the Virtuoso became a common figure in any art), together with realism and care for details (some talk of a typical "intricacy").

Not without a certain correctness, it is said that the privilege given to external forms had to compensate and balance the lack of contents that has been observed in many Baroque works: the same Marino's "Maraviglia" is practically made of the pure, mere form. Fantasy and imagination should be evoked in the spectator, in the reader, in the listener. All was focused around the individual Man, as a straight relationship between the artist, or directly the art and its user, its client. Art is then less distant from user, more directly approaching him, solving the cultural gap that used to keep art and user reciprocally far, by Maraviglia. But the increased attention to the individual, also created in these schemes some important genres like the Romanzo (novel) and let popular or local forms of art, especially dialectal literature, to be put into evidence. In Italy this movement toward the single individual (that some define a "cultural descent", while others indicate it was a possible cause for the classical opposition to Baroque) caused Latin to be definitely replaced by Italian.

In music, Antonio Vivaldi (a priest) transmitted to his listener the joy for harmony, refusing to comply with more classical schemes that had already became more proper of a certain area of Northern Europe eventually identifiable with the places of Reformation. Vivaldi has been often described as representative of Baroque music, yet other critics found in him a precursor of Romantic musicians and underline that he brought the music of his time to evolve into an impressionist style. Johann Sebastian Bach, also due to a better structured background and method, is perhaps more representative of the genre.

Rousseau (in his Encyclopédie) described Baroque music as "a music... which harmony is confused, rich of modulations and dissonances, which Cantus is hard, little natural, tuning is difficult and the movement is clumsy". In the reality, Opera was born, with its most popular form of Opera Buffa, Aria was developed, orchestras started to form for the use of common people (while they were before meant for wealthier classes only) and the ensemble of their contrasting elements was organised in Baroque scores by forms which soon became a canon.

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Examples of typical baroque architecture

San Lorenzo, (Turin, 1666 to 1679)
San Carlo alle quattro fontane[?], (Rome, DATES? - Francesco Borromini
Chateau de Versailles[?], (Versailles, 1661 to 1774) - many co-operators
St. Pauls Cathedral[?], (London, 1675 to 1710) - Christopher Wren
Karlskirche[?], (Vienna, 1715-1737) - Johann Fischer von Erlach[?]
Pommersfelden[?] castle, Germany - Dientzenhofer[?].
Casa del Mexicano, Braga[?], Portugal.

Examples of typical Baroque Music

Johann Sebastian Bach, ( The Art of the Fugue, 1685 to 1750)

Examples of typical Baroque Poetry[?]

Torquato Tasso, (Gerusalemme Liberata, 1584)
John Donne, the 'Holy Sonnets'

Examples of typical Baroque Art

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Ecstasy of St. Theresa

Dance was popular in the Baroque era.

Baroque pearls are natural pearls that deviate from the usual, regular forms. In particular, they are pearls that do not have an axis of rotation. It was this use of the term for irregular pearls that eventually lent its name to the baroque movement.

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