Baroque Part One
The luxury, wealth, overemphasis, drama, luxury, gilding, glow, reflection … All these are words with which we can only try to describe our experience of the baroque art and its interiors. Today, as well as in the past, when it was created and developed, the baroque style will leave the observer stunned and conquered with its exaggerated visual expression, excessive use of the antique elements, sculptures, and a multitude of materials, contrasts, light and shadow. That is why it was created, as the need of the Catholic Church to fascinate and dazzle the believers, as well as the, many, opponents and thus restore its reputation, fame and power.
It received its name at the end of the eighteenth century after the Portuguese word barocco, a word that means an irregularly shaped pearl, was used to sarcastically label art in Western Europe, which started developing from the beginning of the seventeenth to the late eighteenth century. Later on this derisive meaning disappeared, and the Baroque, although it had kept its mark of unusual and exaggerated, become a true pearl of the European Art’s.
Hall of Mirrors, Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, Rome, Italy
Italy and Rome are the cradle of the Baroque, which under the auspices of the church this new art was developed, on the foundations of the Renaissance, Mannerism and the ancient traditions. In addition to the many churches and squares with fountains that were created in this period, the aristocratic palaces were built, too, in that way continuing the tradition of the Florentine Renaissance palaces. Open to nature, with tall, well-lit interiors and comfortable, richly decorated furniture, those were the symbols of comfort and a comfortable life at the time.
However, in France, due to the urge of kings to show their power and glory, but also due to high demands of the nobility for a comfortable and luxurious lifestyle, baroque reached its full glory. Baroque art, its grandeur, free and playful forms and colours, were fully in line with the general atmosphere that prevailed among the highest strata of the French society of the time. French Baroque interiors with their furnishings, certainly represent the pinnacle of the craft and aesthetic principles of the time. Château de Vaux le Vikomt, followed by Versailles are the two most beautiful and the most representative buildings of that time. The era was a time of prosperity and elegance, filled with tranquility and leisure, time of elegance and extravagance.
Library, Castle of Vaux le Vicomte, France
The novelty of this time were the apartments – luxury ones within the castles with separate representative areas for the guest reception and private spaces. In addition to the lavish staircase and hall, each apartment had a large bedroom, boudoir – a small ladies’ salon, a salon, dining room and library. Around this time, a lift was invented, designed exclusively for the rulers and members of the highest social class.
Meeting the numerous requirements of the couriers extravagant lives, the Baroque developed a multitude of unusual, specific pieces of furniture, of various shapes and purposes. Tables for dining, tables for serving coffee, doing embroidery, knitting, playing various board games, desks, tables with drawers, consoles … Chairs of various shapes and sizes, with or without handles, special armchairs with broader and deeper seats in accordance with the wardrobe of the ladies of the time, armchairs for two … Beds with canopies, bed for daily rest, beds for guests – after the fashion of the time, ladies would often greet their guests while lying in beds like these.
No less diverse and luxurious were the materials used by the masters of the time. Rare and expensive types of wood: ebony, mahogany, rosewood, wild cherry … velvet, brocade, silk … Gold and silver, ivory, tortoiseshell … Despite this multitude of materials, curved shapes and over exaggerated decoration, this furniture was expertly designed and made with an incredible care and precision, with an unsurpassed master crafting.
But behind its fascinating luxuries and excessive decoration, Baroque actually hides strict principles of design, choice of materials and colours, as well as quality, typical of this epoch. As a style in art, although at first glance it does not seem so, in fact it always creates a meaningful and connected whole, while respecting the principle of symmetry as a whole. Through asymmetrical details, skillfully used materials, colours and exact hues, with quality production and finishing, created is the style, really worthy of a king, who called himself the Sun King.
Castle Vaux le Vicomte, France