Arts And Humanities Through The Eras. The Age of the Baroque by Edward Bleiberg

By Edward Bleiberg

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Arts and Humanities Through the Eras: The Age of the Baroque and Enlightenment (1600–1800) 5 Architecture and Design In this climate, one in which kings and princes were desirous to present an image of their muscle, Baroque architecture provided an important visual language for a monarch’s self-representation. The most dramatic example of the ways in which the Baroque enhanced the power and reputation of a king was the Palace of Versailles outside Paris. Originally built as a hunting lodge, this modest structure had grown to become the very centerpiece of royal government by the late seventeenth century, an expensive stage for the spectacles of royal power.

In Italy, architecture and urban planning began to move in a grander direction in the years around 1600. Since the eighteenth century this style has been known as the “Baroque,” a word that comes to us from the Portuguese baroco. Originally, this term referred to pearls that were rough and heavily encrusted with sediment. When the neoclassicists of the eighteenth century adopted the word to describe the architecture of the period that preceded their own, they did so to criticize the imposing grandeur and often heavily ornamented style that had been popular throughout Europe in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

The developing ethos of the Catholic Reformation also stressed the importance of the sacraments—particularly the Eucharist—as central 10 The Pope named him his own architect and the architect of the Papal Chamber, a thing which had never before happened to Bernini because each former pope had had his own family architect on whom he wished to confer the post. This practice was not observed by popes after Alexander VII because of the respect they had for Bernini’s singular ability, so that he retained the office as long as he lived.

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