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The Baroque Movement

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 20 November 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the culture of the Baroque. What do the music of Bach, the Colonnades of St Peter’s, the paintings of Caravaggio and the rebuilding of Prague have in common? The answer is the Baroque – a term used to describe a vast array of painting, music, architecture and sculpture from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Baroque derives from the word for a misshapen pearl and denotes an art of effusion, drama, grandeur and powerful emotion. Strongly religious it became the aesthetic of choice of absolute monarchs.

But the more we examine the Baroque, the more subtle and mysterious it becomes. It is impossible to discuss 17th century Europe without it, yet it is increasingly hard to say what it is. It was coined as a term of abuse, denounced by thinkers of the rational Enlightenment and by Protestant cultures which read into Baroque the excess, decadence and corruption they saw in the Catholic Church.

With Tim Blanning, Professor of Modern European History and Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge; Nigel Aston, Reader in Early Modern History at the University of Leicester and Helen Hills, Professor of Art History at the University of York

  • Further Reading

    Tim Blanning, The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1814, (Penguin, 2008)

    John Rupert Martin, Baroque, (Penguin, 1977, 1991)

    GC Argan, The Baroque Age, (New York: Rizzoli, 1989)

    HA Millon (ed.), The Triumph of the Baroque: Architecture in Europe, 1600-1750, (New York: Rizzoli, 1999)

    R Wittkower, Art & Architecture in Italy: Early Baroque; High Baroque; Late Baroque, revised by J Connors & J Montagu, (Yale University Press, 1982)

    C. Buci Glucksmann, Baroque Reason: The Aesthetics of Modernity, trans. by P. Camiller, (London: Sage Publications: 1994)

    Deleuze, Gilles, Le Pli, trans T Conley, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, (University of Minnesota Press, 1993)

    Anthony Blunt, Some Uses and Misuses of the terms ‘Baroque’ and ‘Rococo’ as applied to Architecture (OUP, 1973) [currently out of print but available secondhand on Amazon]

  • .

    John H Mueller, 'Baroque: Is it datum, hypothesis or tautology?', Journal of Aesthetics & Art Crit, vol 12 n4 Jun 1954 pp.421-437

    O.Kurz, 'Barocco: storia di un concetto', in ed. V Branca, Barocco Europeo e Barocco Veneziano (Venice, 1962)

    Anthony Blunt (ed.), Baroque and Rococo: Architecture and Decoration, (New York, 1978)

    Marc R. Foster, Catholic Revival in the Age of the Baroque: Religious Identity in Southwest Germany, 1550-1750, (Cambridge, 2001)

    Robert Harbison, Reflections on the Baroque, (London, 2000)

    Francis Haskell, Patrons and Painters: Art and Society in Baroque Italy, (revised ed., New Haven, 1980)

    James Lees-Milne, English Country Houses: Baroque, (London, 1970)

    Derek Keene, Arthur Burns and Andrew Saint (eds), St Paul's: The Cathedral Church of London 604-2004, (London, 2004)

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