The Difference Between Baroque & Rococo Art

Baroque art came before Rococo art, and for those who are not very well acquainted with these genres, hopefully this will help differentiate between the two. Both are exquisite kinds of art, and both are well worth admiring.

What is Baroque art? Let’s start off with a dictionary definition:

The Extravagant, complex, or bizarre, especially in ornamentation. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a style in art and architecture developed in Europe from the early 17th to mid-18th century, emphasising dramatic, often strained effect and typified by bold, curving forms, elaborate ornamentation, and overall balance of disparate parts.

As indicated above, this period in art generally spans the time from ±1595-±1750 and is often beautiful, and exaggerated. Baroque art often depicted violence, darkness, and the nudes were often more plump than in Rococo works.

Examples of Baroque:

Bernini’s amazing Ecstasy of St Theresa. Look at the sensuous, almost (dare I say it?) orgasmic, expression upon her face. This was done to show her utter ecstasy at having had the angel pierce her heart with God’s love. It’s truly an amazing piece of Baroque sculpture.

Caravaggio (1571-1610):

Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653):

Rubens (1577-1640):

Van Dyck (1599-1641):

WebMuseum, Paris. iBiblio

The Wallace Collection, London

OK, so you understand what Baroque art is like, now Rococo. The definition of Rococo is:

noting or pertaining to a style of painting
developed simultaneously with the rococo
in architecture and decoration,
characterised chiefly by smallness of scale, delicacy of colour, freedom of brushwork,
& the selection of playful subjects
as thematic material.

During the mid-1700s, artists gradually moved away from the Baroque into the modern Rococo style which was around ±1750-±1780. Rococo art was often light-hearted, pastoral, a rosy-tinted view of the world. Now, for some examples!

Pélerinage à l’île de Cythère by Antoine Watteau (1684–1721):

Pélerinage à l'île de Cythère. Image: Musee du Louvre, Paris.

Pélerinage à l’île de Cythère. Image: Musee du Louvre, Paris.


An example of Late Rococo from Jean-Honore Fragonard, The Swing:

The Wallace Collection

Still scratching your head? Well, check out this excellent website which gives a much more in-depth analysis of Rococo art. Also, for both Baroque and Rococo (and much more!) please have a look at The Wallace Collection.

I hope you enjoyed the post, have a lovely day! 😀

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