Arts of the Baroque


Fall 2011


5th Floor Classroom


Jeffrey L. Collins

This foundation course studies Europe and its colonies during the 17th century, an era of internal conflicts, external expansion, and national consolidation that proved a boom time for the arts. In Catholic areas, the Church still spent lavishly, allowing artists to become the protégés of popes, kings, and princes. Elsewhere, a surging market economy helped a rising bourgeoisie establish its position through luxury consumption. Taking a purposefully broad view, the course surveys developments in painting, sculpture, architecture, garden design, urbanism, interior decoration, furniture, metalwork, and textiles, testing the thesis that baroque artists achieved a new synthesis or unity by fusing media previously practiced and experienced separately. After developing key visual and interpretive tools, the class examines artistic innovations in Rome and their repercussions from Spain to southern Germany. The focus then shifts to Louis XIV’s France, culminating in the vast palace and gardens of Versailles. The third area of study is the northern and southern Netherlands, major producers, consumers, and traders of the arts. Here, period paintings are important documents of domestic life, and students will study how to interpret them. 3 credits.