This is a lecture I gave to the office about the baroque movement in architecture. It follows on from a lecture I gave about the renaissance and is the precursor to a future lecture on neoclassicism.

I have always been fascinated by the baroque movement. I love the emotional intensity and its figurative quality using curves that push and pull space in ways previously undreamed of by architects and sculptors. Sometimes ugly, sometimes gaudy but never dull.

I start my lecture by describing the various attributes of the baroque and how it was a development from the more harmonious and disciplined renaissance style. I then go on to describe how baroque came to be the style used by the Roman Catholic Church during the 17th century to spread their form of Christianity at a time when the Protestant faith was gaining influence. Coming on to the architects themselves, I describe the rivalry between Bernini and Borromini the two giants of baroque architecture. I also mention lesser known figures like Cortona and Fontana who worked in Rome at this time.

I then talk about the dissemination of the Baroque from its starting point in Rome to all corners of Europe and particularly France where Louis XIV made a baroque palace at Versailles to rival all others.

English baroque architecture is of particularly interest to me and my practice and so I probably give it more attention than it fairly deserves within the European context. I talk about its wobbly beginning under Charles I and then this full blooded adoption following the restoration of the monarchy with Charles II. Wren was critical in this period and the generation that followed which included Vanbrugh, Hawksmoor, Archer and Gibbs are all covered in this section.

The lecture ends by talking about how the momentum of the baroque gradually lost its intensity and dissolved into the superficial swirls of Rococo and the myriad of different styles from Gothick to Chinoiserie which all came to prominence as a reflection of a new generation with different attitudes and architectural tastes.

Francis Terry

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