Religion and Spirituality
Science and Technology
Art, Literature and Music
Daily Life
Key Personalities

Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts

The visual arts during the period were celebrated as never before, as individual patrons such as popes, kings, and emperors began commissioning masterpieces throughout Europe for the first time in history. The Baroque style of art, which blended elements from the naturalist and classicist schools, is characterized by grandeur, vitality, and emotional exuberance. Baroque painters include Michelangelo Merisi (Caravaggio), Annibale Carracci, and Rembrandt van Rijn. In addition, a particular Baroque style of painting which arose in Rome in the 1620s culminated in the impressive painted ceilings and church decor of Pietro da Cortona, Guido Reni, and Il Guercino.

Perhaps the most beloved Baroque architect and sculptor is Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, who designed the "baldachin" (canopy) above the famed altar of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Baroque architecture emphasized monumentality, movement, dramatic spatial and lighting sequences, and a rich interior decoration using contrasting surface textures, vivid colors, and luxurious materials.

Literature and Poetry

Literature of the Baroque style is epitomized in the writings of Giambattista Marino in Italy, Luis de Gongora in Spain, and Martin Opitz in Germany. English Metaphysical poetry, as popularized by John Donne, also emerged during this period. John Milton authored his famous epic poem, "Paradise Lost" in 1667. In the unparalleled "Paradise Lost," Milton justified the ways of God to men, as well as depicted the creation of the universe, earth, and humanity; conveyed the origin of sin, death, and evil; imagined events in Hell, the Kingdom of Heaven, the garden of Eden, and the sacred history of Israel; engaged with political ideas of tyranny, liberty and justice; and defended theological positions on predestination, free will, and salvation. Milton's influence on the literature of the Romantic era was profound.[Meanwhile, Milton's French contemporary, Jean Baptiste Poquelin (Moliere), penned such plays as "The Misanthrope," and "Don Juan."


Perhaps the most celebrated aspect of the Baroque era was the grandiose style of music first introduced in Italy in the early seventeenth century and popularized by composers such as George Frideric Handel, Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi. While the church continued to support the musical arts, the Baroque age also produced a proliferation of secular music. In addition, the period brought the introduction of such vocal forms as opera, oratorio, and cantata, as well as orchestral forms as the sonata, concerto, and overture. As opera, in particular, became widespread in its popularity, the divas, virtuosos, and castrata of the age gained epic adoration from the masses.