Italian Baroque

Italian Baroque (or Barocco) is a stylistic period in Italian history and art that spanned from the late 16th century to the early 18th century.

Baroque Italian is the historiographical denomination of the local dimension in Italy of the Baroque, a cultural movement with intellectual, literary and all genre of art extension, its temporal location goes from the end of the XVI century (Caravaggio) to the middle of the XVIII century ( Tiepolo). Throughout the whole period the period coexists with the Classicism (classicist painting, Bolognese school in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, academicism of the Accademia di San Luca since 1593, and Neoclassicism in the eighteenth century -name that will be given to the predominant movement from of the second half of that century-). It is commonly identified with the seventeenth century or Seicento (“years [thousand] six hundred” in Italian – see also Duecento, Trecento, Quattrocento and Cinquecento-).

With the name of “Baroque” is often called the art of the seventeenth century. This denomination is relatively modern: we owe it to Francesco Milizia, who uses it, in his Dizionario delle belle arti del disegno (1797), to classify all those artists who have a style contrary to the classic. Baroque appears as the opposite of classicism: it is the excess, the confusion, the dynamism in front of the stillness and the measure against the order and clarity of Roman classicism.

Valeriano Bozal.
The reaction of the Counter-Reformation against Protestantism had reached maturity after the Mannerist intellectualism and the norms established in the Council of Trent, and sought popular extension in the seduction of the senses, beyond reason. artists to produce an exciting imagery, which contrasts with the iconoclastic leanings of the Lutheran Reformation.Front of the clarity and linear sharpness of Classicism, the Baroque sought the twisting and confusion, the contrast, the mixture of materials and textures and even the mixture of the arts themselves (painting, sculpture, architecture), which merged into a true symbiosis. Some of the Italian Baroque artists (Gianlorenzo Bernini, Pietro da Cortona) were multifaceted, standing out in different arts, like the geniuses of the Renaissance.

Papal patronage in Rome was an extreme case of diversity compared to the Italian state cities (Romanesque Baroque -stimulated by the thriving House of Savoy-, Venetian Baroque- the last golden age of the Serenissima Republic, which continued the local architectural tradition , and developed in painting the work of the best vedutisti, as Guardi and Canaletto) and the Spanish domains in Italy (Neapolitan Baroque -José de Ribera, Luca Giordano-, Sicilian Baroque, Lombard Seicento or Milanese Baroque -Giulio Cesare Procaccini-) . The pope, who is both head of the universal church as bishop of Rome and temporal sovereign of the Papal States, closely controlled the city and its urbanism, commissioning constructions and artistic programs. By 1725, only 323 new churches had been built in Rome, for a population of about 150,000.

In Venice a growing number of copies of devotional works were printed12 for the demand of the clergy and literate laymen; that they were used both in the cult and in the private devotion, constantly remembering the presence of religion in everyday life.

The scientific revolution of Giordano Bruno, Galileo and Torricelli suffered in Italy from ups and downs in its acceptance or repression by civil and religious authorities; by contrast, in England he triumphed (Bacon, Newton, Royal Society).

The relationship of Italian Classicism and Baroque with French Baroque and Classicism was very close (Claudius of Lorraine, Nicolas Poussin, French Academy in Rome, 1666); and the Italian contacts of the Spanish Baroque and the Flemish Baroque were also very fruitful (besides the establishment of the Valencian Ribera -lo spagnoleto-, the fertile trips to Italy of the Sevillian Velázquez and the Flemish Rubens -Guilda de Romanistas de Antwerp-).

The early 17th century marked a time of change for those of the Roman Catholic religion, a symbolization of their strength as a congregation and the intelligence of their creative minds. In response to the Protestant Reformation of the earlier 16th century, Roman Catholics embarked on a program of restoration, a new way of living that became known as the Counter Reformation. The purpose of the Counter Reformation was aimed at remedying some of the abuses challenged by the Protestants earlier in the century. Within the church, a renewed Catholic culture was imposed on Italian society. It started with the Council of Trent, imposed by Pope Paul III, a commission of cardinals who came together to address issues of the Catholic Church and regain faith among worshipers. This resulted in guidelines established by the Church for the commissioning work of artists to communicate biblical truths and ideals.

Secular Construction
New secular construction resulted from the establishment of pioneering religious orders. Between 1524 and 1575, the Barnabite, Jesuit, Oratorian and Theatine orders came into being, and as their influence spread, more and more new churches began being built. By 1725, there were 323 churches in Rome alone, serving a permanent population of fewer than 150,000 people. Because of this rapid growth in church building, it became the responsibility of these religious orders to spread the word of Catholicism to the population. Religious books were increasingly being printed in Venice for distribution to the clergy and literate worshipers, passed out during mass and offering continuous reminders of the presence of Christ on everyday life.

Churches had now become a place for encouragement- spaces of expansive beauty and decoration.

They provided exciting imagery that contrasted greatly with the iconoclastic inclinations of the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther”.

The Roman Church realized the power that art could have to inspire and, therefore, they became preoccupied with extravagance and display. Their intent was to overwhelm viewers, catch their attention, and make them want to see more. Entering a Baroque church where visual space, music and ceremony were combined was a powerful device for securing loyalty of congregations. The bigger and more beautiful the space, the more people wanted to go. Complex geometry, curving and intricate stairway arrangements and large-scale sculptural ornamentation offered a sense of movement and mystery within the space.

Il Gesù was the first of many Counter-Reformation churches built in Rome; serving as the mother church of the new Jesuit order. Designed by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, the church of Il Gesù soon became the prototype for the Baroque churches that the Jesuit order built or rebuilt during the Counter-Reformation era. The interior of the Gesu was a study of the grandeur that Roman classicism could offer when combined with simplicity in large scale. High windows puncture the nave’s barrel vault, as a ring of windows in the drum of the dome bring beams of natural light into the interior, creating a dramatic contrast of light and darkness in relatively dim space.

The plan of Il Gesù became the standard for churches for years to come; a breakaway from the ideal central-plan church of the Renaissance into something new. The Latin Cross variation created a greater sense of spatial unification within the space. In his design for the church of Il Gesù, Vignola broadened the nave and made the transepts and side chapels smaller, creating a better and brighter focal point for the main space and allowing more room for the congregation at mass. The cultural patronage of the pope in Rome was an extreme case of diversity in comparison with surrounding Italian city-states. The pope served his role as not only the head of the Catholic Church, but as the acting ruler for the city. He [the pope] controlled what was built and who was commissioned to build it.

In 1605, at the very beginning of his pontificate, Pope Paul V commissioned Carlo Maderno to redesign St. Peter’s Basilica. It was at the age of 72, in 1546, when Michelangelo first took hold of the unfinished rebuilding project started by Bramante. When Michelangelo died, the construction of the, then, Greek-cross section surrounding the Papal altar and the tomb of Peter had been completed only as far as the top of the drum. The dome then became completed, with some modifications, by Giacomo della Porta in 1590. It was the continuous debates over the religious and aesthetic benefits of keeping the Greek-cross plan or enhancing the space by extending it into Latin-cross plan that led Paul V to boldly commission for Maderno’s services. Maderno’s initial projects, including the long nave addition, which created a new Latin-Cross solution upon the ground plan, the façade and the portico, became an instantly recognizable image of Rome and the heart and spirit of Catholic Christianity.

To settle the problem of excess open space within the updated basilica, Pope Urban VII commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to design the internal space. Bernini became responsible for much of the internal appearance of the basilica, notably the baldacchino (1624–33) erected over the dome of St. Peter. It acts as a main focal point in the space, combining both sculpture and architecture into a unified art piece. Complex in form and ornate with sculpture, the baldacchino serves as a great example of the Baroque ‘style’, massive and ornate, glorifying the church and the Catholic religion.

This space is an example of quadratura, an attempt to create an illusion through architecture, painting, and sculpture. Painting and sculpture create an illusion of never-ending height and dramatic composition.

Plastic arts
The periodization of the Baroque is not unanimous: The “triumphant Baroque”, which can be identified with the “decorative Baroque” (Barocco decorative) of the late seventeenth century, would follow the “full Baroque” (Barocco pieno) of the middle decades of the century; while, with less diffusion, there is some use of “sober Baroque” (sober Barocco) or even the oxymoron “Classicist Baroque” (Barocco classicista) to define the “classicist” versus the “naturalist” or “tenebrist” trend ( “Baroque tenebrista” or “naturalist”.) It is usual to call Baroque periods with more or less chronological indications, such as “Early Baroque” or “initial” (Barocco iniziale, Early Barocco, Early Baroque) -the Caravaggio, which it has its first great commission in 1599, or that of Ribera, which arrived in Naples in 1616-, “full baroque” or “high” (Barocco pieno or Barocco pieno, High Baroque) -the one of Bernini, sponsored by the popes since 1623 and that he was called to the French court in 1665- and “late Baroque”, “low” or “final” (Basso Barocco or Barocco finale, Low or Late Baroque) -the one of Luca Giordano, called to the Spanish court between 1692 and 1702, that of Juvarra, which toured Europe since 1719, or that of Tiepolo, who was called to Madrid in 1761. Century XVIII meant on the one hand, the triumph of a sensual Rococo in private areas, and on the other the triumph of the severe neoclassical academicism in public areas, especially from the discovery of the ruins of Herculaneum (1738) and Pompeii (1748) excavated by Roque Joaquín de Alcubierre under the reign of Borbón Carlos VII of Naples (future Carlos III of Spain) and the publication of Le Antichità di Ercolano (1757-1792).

He himself was the flutter of the moral passion of the moral character in the ‘600 if he devoured and cosiddeti “generi” pittorici; if dovrebbe però parlare, eat altri è stato riconosciuto, I gave a realistic barocco, I gave a classicist barocco, and gave a grandiose and decorative barocco per aggiudicare ad ogni artist or sole the relative appartenenza.

Italian Baroque painting (baroque painting, Italian painting).

The Rome of 1630 was undoubtedly a center of remarkable artistic interest. There was lived the controversy of naturalism – almost overcome in the extreme formulations of radical Caravaggism, but alive and active in smaller circles, such as the “bamblers” that could not help but interest Velázquez – and the classicism that represented the Roman-Bolognese line of Reni and Guercino, enriched by the presence of Poussin. These are the years in which, in the most gifted living artists in Rome, an interest rekindled by Venice, and a resurgence of the study of the works of Titian and Veronese that will conclude a few years later by subsuming in the triumphant baroque of a Pietro de Cortona, but that now allows to walk almost at the same pace, in the common Neo-Venetian devotion, to artists as different as Cortona, Poussin or Andrea Sacchi.

The end of the 16th century meant the irruption of tenebrism or caravaggismo (followers of Caravaggio, such as Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, Bartolomeo Manfredi or Artemisia Gentileschi) against the late-Mannerist classicism of the Bolognese school (the Carracci, Accademia degli Incamminati, Guercino, Domenichino) . Both tendencies were not incompatible, as shown by the work of one of the masters of the period (Guido Reni’s case).

In the 1630s Pietro da Cortona and Andrea Sacchi held a debate at the Roman Accademia di San Luca in which they defended their opposed pictorial styles (which are historiographically called “Baroque” and “Classicism” respectively). The discussion centered essentially on the number of figures in a painting, and was expressed in literary terms, with Cortona arguing in favor of an “epic” approach with an abundance of figures, and Sacchi doing the same for a “tragic” approach, which considered more convenient for the transmission of messages.

In fact, both masters close to Cortona (Giovan Battista Gaulli or Ciro Ferri) and those close to Sacchi (Nicolas Poussin, Claudio de Lorena or Carlo Maratta) shared much of their style, such as the use of color. The publication in 1672 of the Lives of the artists of Gian Pietro Bellori promoted classic idealism, omitting the inclusion of artists such as Cortona, Bernini or Borromini (although it did include Caravaggio).

In addition to Rome and Bologna, the rest of the Italian cities maintained the vitality of their schools of painting, of centuries-old tradition. Bernardo Strozzi and Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione stood out in Genoa; in Venice Francesco Maffei, Andrea Celesti, Sebastiano Ricci or the Veteran Luca Carlevarijs (already in the XVIII, Jacopo Amigoni, Guardi, Canaletto or Tiepolo); in Milan Giulio Cesare Procaccini; in Naples José de Ribera spagnoletto or Luca Giordano, etc. The Milanese Caravaggio did most of his work in Rome, finishing his short and hectic life between Naples, Malta, Sicily and again in Rome.

Italian baroque sculpture (Baroque sculpture, Italian sculpture).

Alessandro Algardi and Gianlorenzo Bernini competed as maximum exponents of sculpture in Italy in the middle decades of the 17th century. In the workshop of Bernini, Antonio Raggi and Ercole Ferrata were trained. Disciple of Ferrata was Melchiorre Cafà (Ecstasy of Santa Catalina, Monte Magnanapoli). In Genoa, Filippo Parodi stood out; in Naples, Giuseppe Sanmartino, Francesco Queirolo and Antonio Corradini, authors of three extraordinary works for the Sansevero Chapel where they demonstrate an extraordinary virtuosity in the representation of veiled or wrapped in a network: the Christ candle, the Disinganno and the Pudicizia (the three datables between 1752 and 1753); in Sicily, Giacomo Serpotta (decoration to the stucco of oratories in Palermo).

Italian baroque architecture (baroque architecture, Italian architecture).

The new constructions resulted from the establishment of new religious orders between 1524 and 1575: barnabites, Jesuits, Oratorians, theatines; whose influence expanded and demanded the construction of a new type of churches, a place for the propaganda of the Catholic faith (Propaganda Fide was founded in 1622), of expansive beauty and decoration, which characterized the transition between Mannerism and Baroque . Il Gesù, a rupture of the Renaissance ideal of a church with a central plan, designed by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola (1568 -the cover was modified by Giacomo della Porta in 1584-), was the first and served as a model for the Jesuit churches. Interior was an example of how Roman Classicism could be combined with a large-scale simplicity. High windows perforate the barrel vault, as does the ring of windows of the dome’s drum, to illuminate the interior with natural light, creating a dramatic contrast of light and darkness in a relatively diffuse space.In 1605 the Pope commissioned Carlo Maderno redesigning the Basilica of San Pedro. Later Gianlorenzo Bernini (whose influence on the artistic life of his time has come to be described as “dictatorship”) took care of both the interior decoration and the design of the Plaza de San Pedro.

After Bernini and Borromini, Carlo Fontana was the most influential architect of Rome (concave facade of San Marcello al Corso).

At his court in Turin, the house of Savoy, needed to translate into ambitious works its recent political promotion (residences of the royal house of Savoy, villas and palaces of Turin), was particularly receptive to the new style and employed a prominent trio of architects: Guarino Guarini, Filippo Juvarra and Bernardo Vittone.

The architecture of the Venetian Baroque, following the local tradition, had Baldassarre Longhena as its greatest exponent, and after the plague of 1630 the construction of Santa Maria della Salute began, with a central floor. In the octagonal body of the basilica, Longhena added a sanctuary bordered on each side by two apses, a solution similar to that adopted by Andrea Palladio in the basilica of Santissimo Redentore, which accentuates the longitudinal axis of the temple, a nave converted into the central body . The Baroque style is evident in the conformation of the external mass, on the Grand Canal: the octagonal body, covered by a large dome, is flanked by the crown of the sanctuary and two bell towers. Longhena also built civil buildings: the Ca ‘Pesaro presents an apparently conventional plan, but the role of lights and shadows on the richly decorated façade gives it a typically Baroque style. The plastic details reach their end in the facade of the church of Ospedaletto (completed in the 1670s), decorated with atlantes, giant heads and lion masks. Other Venetian architects of the time were Andrea Tirali (Tolentini, Manfrin Venier Palace), Giuseppe Sardi (Santa Maria del Giglio) or Domenico Rossi (Saint Stae, Ca ‘Corner della Regina).

The last phase of Italian Baroque architecture is exemplified in Naples by the Palace of Caserta, by Luigi Vanvitelli. In transit to neoclassical architecture, following the model of other Bourbon palaces (Palace of Versailles, Royal Palace of Madrid), it is integrated into the surrounding landscape. Its dimensions are extraordinary; it is considered the largest building in eighteenth-century Europe.

Town planning
Italian Baroque urbanism (Baroque urbanism, Italian urban planning, urbanism) .54

… with the new straight streets, with the tridents, which will become the perfect formula for the new Baroque urbanism, with the new buildings that flank them, Rome is transformed in a surprising and almost wonderful way, even before the eyes of its own inhabitants, becoming itself an object of contemplation, since Sixtus V does not forget to add the artistic to the functional creating in the city many decorative points such as fountains, inaugurating a tradition that will enjoy great favor during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries , and that will play an important role in the creation of the myth of Baroque Rome … Although Sixtus V was concerned to relate its widening with the old city, the fact is that in its regulatory plane left him side, abandoning the medieval city to the transformations of its own dynamics; because in Rome, next to urbanism of public interest and inserted on it, there is another one moved by the private interest of the Roman aristocracy -important as the Church decidedly opts for that model as an expression of its ideal of life- that it uses in its benefit the existing urban structures without modifying them. … These constructive practices of the big families … and the lack of global vision … when remodeling their palaces look for an aesthetic framework appropriate to their position, but … they do not worry about supplying the necessary infrastructures …

From the mannerist façade of the church of the Society of Jesus (Il Gesù), the Italian architects were making the facades of the temples more and more dynamic, breaking the traditional architectural elements and frontality. With similar fantasy, the structure of the Palazzi façades was also altered.

Pietro da Cortona was one of the painters of the 17th century who employed this illusionist way of painting. Among his most important commissions were the frescoes he painted for the Palace of the Barberini family. Pietro da Cortona’s compositions were the largest decorative frescoes executed in Rome since the work of Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel. Harold Osborne, author of The Oxford Companion of Art, comments on his work the ‘Divine Providence’ completed for the Barberini palace:

This, his most famous painting, is a triumph of illusionism for the centre of the ceiling appears open to the sky and the figures seen from below appear to come down into the room as well as soar out of it”.

Stucco became one of the overall key characteristics of Baroque interiors, enhancing wall spaces, niches, and ceilings.

It was the reverence for the church that provided funding for more and more building projects which, in turn, brought even more worshipers into the city –as many as five times the permanent population during a Holy Year. With this boom in tourism, a continuing job opportunity arose for the citizens of Rome. The construction industry in Rome soon became the largest employer in the city.

Throughout Italy inspiring architects received training on-the-job. In most parts of Italy, local architects satisfied building needs, but in Rome architects were specifically commissioned either by the Papal state or family dynasties to work on their projects. Families associated with the papacy, including the Barberini, Borghese, Chigi and Pamphili, were extremely well off and, in turn, some of the richest and grandest villas were constructed for them. Competition between these ruling families meant they rivaled each other in the elaborateness of the detailing in their homes as well as in the churches they supported.

The hot climate of Italy influenced the choosing of materials and planning of architecture. For flooring, tile, marble and stone were used; terrazzo flooring, created by chips of marble case into cement, was also sometimes used in interiors. All of these materials helped cool the space. Consideration of geographic location was also examined during construction planning. For example, on average, Sicily receives 1,000 more hours of sunshine each year than Turin. The facades in Sicilian-built architecture seem extremely massive in comparison to contemporary ones in the Italian mainland. Regional variations like this can be seen throughout Italy, including Rome.

The role of furniture in Roman interiors was to emphasize social status and to simply add a decorative element to the interior. Carving was the preferred method of decorating furniture; while walnut was the primary furniture wood. Emphasis for furniture was on carved and turned members, which were elaborately placed on high-back armchairs and tables.

Spatial relationships for the interior in the age of the Baroque changed from the block structure of the Renaissance to more open planning. Grand proportions were typical in Baroque interiors. The salone was given high priority, again with an emphasis on exaggerated decoration, this time incorporating accents into the room at different heights. Niches, entablatures, pediments and wall reliefs created dynamics within the space.

For the effects of trompe l’oeil or architectural illusion in interior decoration, the integration of the three arts (painting, sculpture and architecture) was very significant, so that one could not see at first sight where one began and where another ended. It helped the use of all types of supports and materials, highlighting the stucco, which became a key material in all spaces of the baroque interiors, being used in niches, ceilings, walls, etc.

Main chapel of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi (Florence), an example of cappella spettacolo (“spectacle chapel”), project by Ciro Ferri, who also painted the central spade; the sides are by Luca Giordano, 1667-1685.
The staircase of Longhena for San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice (1643) is the first of the great interior monumental staircases of Italy, much larger than its predecessors in Genoa (Municipality, 1564 and Università, 1623) and Florence (the staircase of the Library Laurenziana by Michelangelo, 1524 – finished decades later -); and it is in turn the precedent of the great scenographic architecture in the stair hall north of the Alps.

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