Aim of this essay is to give a brief description of
the Baroque style. I will elaborate on a historic building that represents the
English Baroque, the Christ Church orchestrated by Nicholas Hawksmoor.
The Baroque art movement was born during the 17th
century in Rome and subsequently spread throughout other European cities.
The term “Baroque” refers to a cultural
movement that touched on different disciplines such as literature, art,
philosophy and music. During conflicts between the clergy and the Reformation
effort, the Catholic Church decided to mark their strength of own doctrine.
Baroque art is a playful style, with a strong
tendency of a type of decoration, which is very rich, charging, sumptuous,
elaborate and imaginative.
In spite of the Baroque is a very extravagant, its
foundations remain classics. In addition, like many other artistic currents
Baroque art does not forget the main goal of educating.
In Rome the Baroque developed in the early 1630s and
soon becomes one of the favourite styles of the Catholic Church and monarchies.
They feel the need to design baroque churches, monasteries and palaces with
elegant way. The promoter of this style was Pope Urban VIII, who wanted to
renew the city, giving it a high prestige.
The key features of Baroque architecture are curved
and sinuous lines, such as ellipses and spirals that intertwine with each
other, to seem indecipherable; the central points of the city, such as squares,
streets and historical monuments are enhanced with tall domes and ancient
Egyptian obelisks. One of the typical features of Baroque is undoubtedly the
decoration which, along with painting, sculpture and the use of stucco, gave
birth to the monuments and majestic structures such as the Basilica of San
Giovanni of Fiorentini, engineered by Sansovino (1523-1734).
Roman baroque churches have a central plan or
elongated Central and both plants are usually characterized by a longitudinal
As regards the civil architecture, the buildings
remain largely faithful to the Renaissance style.
The Palazzo Barberini (1625-1633) is an early
Baroque palace, elaborate with a H and a large atrium that narrows at the
entrance of the Court. The architects of this building are Gian Lorenzo
Bernini, Carlo Maderno and Francesco Borromini.
English Baroque architecture stands out in several
respects, splitting into three periods.
Palladianism is the first period. It is called
Palladianism because it was inspired by Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) a Venetian architect.
With this style usually plant is cruciform, taken from the Roman architecture;
the facades of the structures always have a pleasant view and the lodges are
similar to a province. English Inigo Jones (1573-1652) introduced the Baroque
architecture, with the Palladian architecture. The architect began his studies
as a painter and worked at the Court of Denmark. Before heading back to London,
he lived for a time in Italy, especially in Emilia, Veneto, Florence and Rome.
Thanks to his travels in Italian territory, he was commissioned to build the
Queen’s House at Greenwich. The model of the building is similar to typical
Italian country houses built during the Renaissance, particularly the Medici
Villa at Poggio, Caiano. The Queen’s House is the new orientation of English
The second period is called Roman classicism as he
recovers the Roman art. In 1660 there was a renewed revival of arts. In fact,
new forms of pictorial art, theatre, music. English Baroque architecture
achieved higher results, producing all known worldwide today. The leading
exponent of this second period, defined the Roman classicism, was Christopher
In 1661 he was entrusted with the implementation of
its first two buildings, the Sheldonian Theatre (1662-1663) and the chapel of
Pembroke College (1663-1665). Later he left for Europe; he stayed in the
Netherlands and in France, where he studied and copied many buildings designed
by Gian Lorenzo Bernini as for the Louvre. Back in London, the city was attacked
by a violent plague followed by a fire that burned most of the city like
houses, churches and cathedrals.
The British architect Wren was asked to redesign
the capital with the construction of 51 churches and also the famous St Paul’s
Cathedral. The Cathedral is a hybrid of different styles of Baroque
architecture: the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral resumes ideally the dome of Saint
Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the main facade inspired by the Louvre in Paris.
Another great work of Wren is Kensington Palace which
is also influenced by the Louvre and other elements of French architecture.
The third period of English Baroque, also known as
Palladian revival, has as its main representatives two students of Wren, John
Vanbrugh (1664-1726) and Nicholas Hawksmoor (1671-1736). The two students were
given the task of designing Castle Howard, a monumental country house in
Yorkshire. The building includes the Palace, a stable, a chapel and several
courtyards. The Park is full of historical items, including Egyptian obelisks
and Greek temples. Another project of the two architects was Blenheim Palace.
The Palace is in Oxfordshire and looks like a majestic country house. As Castle
Howard and Blenheim Palace is a union of different architectural styles, which
mark English Baroque style. There are items that are already used by Inigo
Jones for the palaces of London, corner towers reminiscent of the Elizabethan
era and numerous decorations echoing the middle ages.
As it was already being mentioned, Hawksmoor was a
student of Wren. The English architect Hawksmoor has always been well known
since his youth for his great capacity in the field of architecture. His
teacher introduces him in various projects, such as for the creation of the St.
Paul Cathedral. Later, after the collaboration with his colleague John
Vanbrugh, he dedicated himself to designing various churches in the heart of
the city of London. A typical example is the famous Christ Church,
Spitalfields, located on Commercial Street, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
The Church itself is very simple and original in structure. The front entrance
has a stairway leading to the main door. Both sides have 2 columns each; every
column is placed on top of a square and white pedestal. The front side is
divided into three sections horizontally, the first starts from pedestal up to
the tops of columns. This first part, again, is divided into five parts: one
central and two in each side. The three central parts are made up of three
arched doors. Above the doors there are three large glass windows, likewise
with a bow. On two sides at the far end, there are a small door and two windows
each, a semi-circular and above a rounded one.
The second part is from the top of the columns to
the base of the clock. This section in turn is divided into three parts: the
two sides are decorated with recesses in the form of windows without glass.
While the central part consisting of a large glass window with an arch. The
last part, the top is decorated with an arrowhead tip above the clock. The
front of Christ Church, which looks like a tower, is common trait of Roman
style. It also includes by presenting
the typical pillars and pedestals. In addition, the windows are resembling to
Italian Baroque style which is similar to typical Venetian windows.