Baroque architecture is a style that emerged in Italy in the late-16th century. It was a more theatrical version of Renaissance architecture, with dramatic lighting and color, illusory effects such as trompe l’oeil, and designs that played games with architectural features, sometimes leaving them incomplete. Its buildings typically include central towers, domes, the portico, or other central projections in the main facade. As Baroque architecture coincided with European colonialism, it can be seen throughout much of the world; and in some regions, notably Germany and colonial South America, it lasted until the 18th century.
Baroque architecture aimed at attracting new followers by creating exaggerated imageries of art and architecture. It aimed at striking the emotions of the people thereby attempting to persuade them to be loyal to the church and view it as an authority. The baroque style of architecture made the church a symbol of a mysterious experience.
Typical Features of Baroque Architecture
The most common features of the Baroque style are as follows:
- Curves and twists.
- Rich surface treatments.
- Gilded statuary.
- Bright colors.
- Vividly painted ceilings.
- Fragmented or deliberately incomplete elements.
- Large-scale frescoes.
- Dramatic central projections on an external façade.
- Use of plaster or stucco, marble or faux finishing.
- Illusory effects such as trompe l’oeil.
- Pear-shaped domes (more common in Eastern Europe baroque)
The following are the Baroque architecture characteristics that assign the design with visual and dramatic effects. These features contribute to rendering the structure status of grandeur.
Quadratura refers to the paintings in trompe-l’oeil, a typical style of ornamental painting. The Quadratura usually are imageries of angels and saints and painted usually on the domes and ceilings of the structures. They are also decoratively combined with stucco frames, thus giving an illusion of three dimensions. This style of art forms on the ceilings also refers to the abstraction of looking to heaven. An additional feature of this style is seen in the painted or sculpted figurines of Atlantes, which look like holding up the ceiling.
A dome is a commonly seen feature in Baroque architecture examples. Grand Domes form an important part of the Baroque-style structures and often have interiors painted with a sky filled with angels and sculpted sunbeams. The dome and the art forms adorned on it depict the glory of heaven. The Bavarian, Czech, Polish, and Ukrainian Baroque are often marked by the presence of Pear-shaped domes.
Cartouche in the Baroque style of architecture is used to elaborate forms and sculpted frames. They majorly help to break up the surfaces and add three-dimensional effects to the walls.
Grand Stairways form the foremost feature of the Baroque architecture characteristics. They are often located centrally, thus adding a dramatic effect. These stairways, winding upwards in stages help in achieving changing views from different levels. Therefore, they serve as a great feature for ceremonies.
Mirrors help in achieving an impression of depth and greater space. When particularly combined with windows, these add to the grandeur and the interior space and exterior space.
This refers to the treatment of light and shade in drawings and paintings. These are used to establish strong contrasts of darkness and light in the structures, thus adding a theatrical value.
In most of the Baroque architecture examples, we can spot the use of overhead sculptures. These figures are generally installed just below the ceilings. The figurines are made of wood, plaster, stucco, marble, or faux finishing. This gives an impression of floating in the air.
Solomonic columns give an illusion of motion.
Elliptical or oval spaces
Elliptical or oval spaces are the most common feature in most of the Baroque architecture examples. These forms help in eliminating right angles.
Baroque architecture was an art form, associated with a great abstract quality. The pomp and embellishments of the Baroque architecture depict the emotional quotient attached, which aimed at bringing in reform in society’s perception. On the other hand, the visual grandeur depicts the wealth and power of the religious institution in the 16th and 17th centuries. Moreover, this highlights the fact that religious institutions used art and architecture to establish their authority and agenda in society.