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The Baroque period was excessive and exuberant in its style and nature, most

closely associated with the seventeenth century. It was a period of art in which
architecture, painting, sculpture, theater and music had a style filled with Because of this
many of the works of art from the period are electric and energetic. The word Baroque
comes from the Portuguese word barraco, which means irregular pearl; contorted and
somewhat grotesque. This description fits the architecture from the time especially, which
was dynamic, dramatic, and overwhelming in style. For explaining the Baroque and the
number of techniques used during the period, I chose to focus on two architectural
examples. Both of which I have had the pleasure of seeing up close, in person. The
Faade of St. Peters (Fig.1) church by Carlo Maderno (1607-1612) and Francesco
Borrominis SantIvo (Fig.2) church (1642).
The Baroque in Italy is often characteristically more dynamic and theatrical than
earlier styles. Architects working in this manner exhibited a sensitivity to motion, space,
light, and time. Baroque architecture was known for its ability to envelope the viewer,
often due to new illusionistic effects. Its also known as an era of passionate enthusiasm
and persuasion. The Catholic Church used the period as an attempt to use art to influence
to the religious and to express the spirit of the counter-reformation. Which is why the
churches of the time are such excellent and visually stimulating examples of Baroque
Maderno was given the task of completing the church, by adding a nave and a
narthex essentially creating a basilica plan. Looking at Madernos The Faade of St.
Peters church in Vatican City, one can see clear elements of the Baroque style.
Madernos design followed Michelangelos original pattern for the faade, consisting of a
colossal order to support the attic. However there is a dramatic emphasis on the portals,
these create a line that crescendos from the corners to the center. Its this dramatic
emphasis and crescendo that is a huge characteristic of Baroque, almost theatrical visual
art. The spacing of the supports becomes closer, the pilasters into columns, and the
faade wall projects step by step (Davies, Denny, Hofrichter, Jacobs, Roberts, & Simon
n.d., 661-697). Theres a quickened rhythm to this, which is an element of the Baroque
using a rhythmic element to draw the viewers eyes by creating depth. Madernos design
change and challenged the traditional concept of the church facade, instead of one
continuous wall surface (Davies, Denny, Hofrichter, Jacobs, Roberts, & Simon n.d., 661697). Maderno created a faade-in-depth (Davies, Denny, Hofrichter, Jacobs, Roberts,
& Simon n.d., 661-697). Id like to say that St. Peters is stunning in person; Ive never
seen anything so strong and intensely beautiful. Im not a religious person, but looking at
St. Peters beauty I remember thinking that I could believe in heaven. This I think
exemplifies the style of the Baroque, due to its ability to draw the viewer in with the
beauty of the architecture. Its completely mesmerizing in the way it draws ones eyes up
and around the faade, making one have a visual awakening, if not a spiritual one. The
Faade of St. Peters church exemplifies the Baroque characteristics of light, motion, and
space in a simple yet affective way.
Another example of excellent Baroque architecture is SantIvo church by
Francesco Borromini. Who was known as a secretive and an emotionally unstable artist,
who alter committed suicide. In his short life he created some of the most well known
Baroque architecture in Italy. His churches were known for extravagantly complex outer

structures, with oddly simple interiors: he had an extreme understanding of special

geometry. Borrominis church of SantIvo alla Sapienza is in Rome, it was built at the
end of a pre existing cloister-, which later became the University of Rome. The church is
small, a central-plan (Davies, Denny, Hofrichter, Jacobs, Roberts, & Simon n.d., 661697), that is based on a hexagonal star. The exterior is stunning, laying at the end of a
courtyard the church rises at the end of the alley of buildings so that the faade can be
seen throughout the alleyway; decentralized planning. Baroque architecture was known
for shifting centralized planning, from the main stage to the background. Above the
courtyard and the faade is a towering dome; it is the dominating focus point granting the
building a form of captivating power. This draws the viewer in, using the width of the
courtyard to the thin top of the dome, a line drawing the eyes up and drawing us closer.
The faade of San Ivo alla Sapienza is concave, molding the church into the
alleyway as if completing it, the faade itself looks like a continuation of the alley arches
except with the openings filled in with small windows, a door, and a larger glass window
above the door. Above the faade is a large parapet structure, which adds towards the
effect of the dome. A key exterior aspect is the top of the church, the lantern of Sant'Ivo is
topped with a swirling spiral shape like whipped cream, surmounted with a Cross. This
is a great example of Baroque style; the whipped cream is a perfect example of the
excessive and exuberant, often slightly grotesque, beautiful in its excessiveness. The
church effects the viewer by making said viewer want to move closer, like a door at the
end of a hallway that needs to be opened.

Fig1. Faade of St. Peters Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica, Rome: main entrance (east) faade by Carlo Maderno. - ARTsor
Database. Accessed April 20, 2016

Fig2. Sant'Ivo alla Church

Sant'Ivo alla Sapienze Church view of balconies and decoration by Francesco
Borromini. - ARTsor Database. Accessed April 20, 2016

Borromini, Francesco. Sant'Ivo alla Sapienze Church view of balconies and decoration.
1660. Rome, Italy. April 20, 2016. ARTstor Database.
Davies, Penelope E., Walter B. Denny, Frima Hofrichter, Joseph Jacobs, Ann Roberts,
and David Simon. "The Baroque in Italy and Spain." Jason's History of Art,
8th ed., 661-697. n.d.
Maderno, Carlo. St. Peter's Basilica, Rome: main entrance (east) faade. 1607-1615.
Vatican City, Rome, Italy. April 20, 2016. ARTstor Database. AIC_880015