( Originally Published 1955 )
As a period this term refers to the art of the late sixteenth and the seventeenth century in western Europe. It is generally associated with the architecture, sculpture and painting of the counter-Reformation, with their dramatic compositions, dynamic and infinitely extending spatial qualities and theatrical lighting effects. Anti-classical in both form and spirit, it stressed violent emotional expression, asymmetrical rather than symmetrical arrangements and open rather than closed compositions. Although expressing itself in its most characteristic form in the Catholic and/or aristocratic art of painters like Rubens, Murillo, Caravaggio, etc., it also has its counterparts in such Protestant painters as Rembrandt or even Vermeer. The latter may be considered Baroque by virtue either of their emphasis on melodramatic lighting, as in Rembrandt, or through asymmetry and extension into infinite space, as in Vermeer.