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What Are Some Famous Baroque Paintings?

By Liz Thomas
Updated Feb 18, 2024
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There are many famous Baroque paintings that incorporate the main artistic styles of the era, which lasted between 1600 and 1750 in Europe. These styles include light usage, incorporation of nature, and dynamic movement. The subjects of paintings range from mythological images and church subjects to portraits from the lower classes. The production details and specific artists are unknown for many masterpieces created during this period.

"Bacchus," one of Caravaggio's baroque paintings, depicts the youthful Roman god of wine. This painting resides in the Florence at the Uffizi Gallery. Several examples of Baroque art are found in the painting. Bacchus is a mythological god. The inedible fruit in the painting is thought to depict the how time moves quickly and life is short. This aspect of nature was new to art in the Baroque.

Frans Hal, a Dutch painter, produced many portraits. The personal portrait was a very popular type of baroque painting. "The Gypsy Girl" is a notable portrait of a young girl. Art critics have described the portrait of capturing a moment in time, as the sitter appears to be moving. At the time this was considered very unconventional, but it became an important style that emerged as the Baroque era progressed.

"St. George and the Dragon" by Peter Paul Reubens is considered one of the first Baroque paintings. The painting depicts St. George riding a horse in the midst of battle. A princess is in the background and is thought to symbolize the church. The cloth and armor in the painting are very detailed. This attention to detail is but one of the Italian influences present in the painting.

Johannes Vermeer was a famous Baroque dutch painter. One of his most famous paintings, "The Girl with the Pearl Earring," is thought to be painted during the Baroque era, in 1665. Almost nothing is known about the sitter or the painting. This work currently resides in the Hague. The realism of this famous piece is considered by admirers to be one of the paintings most distinguishing features.

"The Magdalen with the Smoking Flame," by Georges de la Tour, is one of his many famous baroque paintings. Georges de la Tour is famous for his use of light. The light source within this particular image is from the candle, a feature inspired by Caravaggio. Paintings by de la Tour are highly regarded because they are so rare. There are only 50 found in the world, including this one which is housed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

In Spain, Jusepe de Ribera was considered the master of Baroque. In particular his paintings of saints incorporated naturalism, color and dynamic movement important in Baroque paintings. "The Martyrdon of St Batholomew" that hangs in the Prado is one of his most famous pieces. Enthusiasts are quick to point out the pain found on the faces of his subjects.

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Discussion Comments
By Feryll — On Jun 20, 2014

I like the way Baroque paintings used some of the methods of abstract art, yet the works were not too far over the top. You can look at most of the art from the period and you know what you are looking at. You don't have to guess what the images are, but the images on the canvass don't necessarily belong together.

This article uses the example of "St. George and the Dragon" to explain art from this period. This piece is not what we would call abstract in today's world, but the image of the princess is out of place on the battle field, so the symbolism is there.

By Animandel — On Jun 19, 2014

My favorite artist from the Baroque Period is without doubt Peter Paul Rubens. I'm not a big art fan or expert, but I did take an art class once and I know what I like. One thing I liked about Ruben other than his painting was his attitude. He didn't put on airs. Basically, he thought of himself as a simple man with some God-given talent. He didn't think of himself as a genius or a star.

By Sporkasia — On Jun 19, 2014

The entire Baroque period was so full of life and excitement that most of the artwork and architecture from the period is a bit different from what was the norm before then. This is what makes it exciting.

When I think of the period I think of fullness. However, I guess the biggest characteristic of the period and its art is diversity. This is because these years were a time of reform and change from old ways. If you really want to understand baroque painting you should study the history of the period and see how it influenced artists and art.

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