Context and Meanings in Baroque Art


The Baroque style originated in Italy around 1600. It was a style that, for the most part, met the needs of an elite clientele of connoisseurs and especially the new mandates for religious art espoused by the Council of Trent (1545-63).  More than even the Renaissance style that preceded it, the Baroque spread quickly across Europe and, through trade and other means, spread to the New World, India, China, and other far off lands. Religious and political motivations were as important for the development of Baroque style as artistic ones.

Artists and their work were sent all over Europe and facilitated the quick diffusion of this new “Italian” style.   Soon, patrons in Spain, the Netherlands, Flanders, France, England and the Holy Roman Empire demanded that local artists adopt it, though usually with some modifications to better conform to the differences in tastes, traditions, and the function and organization of religious and civic institutions in those areas. Then, since trade routes were so highly developed by this time, Baroque style paintings and sculptures were sent to every known area of the world and artists in those places took on some of the Baroque style as well.

The works of art from this period (c. 1580-1700) in the collections of the Robert Hull Fleming Museum at the University are from a wide variety of provenances, and with an array of functions, subjects, styles and media.  The foci of this exhibition are the four major areas of intersection of Baroque art and ideas that these objects document: Religion, Politics and Propaganda, Exploration, and the Social World of the Artist.


Created by the students of ART165 with objects drawn from the Fleming Museum, University of Vermont.