Baroque and Rococo Architecture
After the Renaissance period, the architects of the era started to get bored with the symmetry and same old forms they had been using for the last 200 years. It was about the end of the High Renaissance that the buildings started to take on a new look. One can see in the San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane in Rome, that the architects didn't use very much symmetry at all.
The two main architects of the Baroque era were Bernini and Borromini. Berninis first medium was sculpture. So, he liked to incorporate lots of it in his buildings. Also, Bernini liked to write plays and operas. In 1644, John Evelyn described how when in Rome, he attended an opera where Bernini did everything except the acting and singing. Fransesco Borromini was very different from Bernini. A sculptor and a mason, he went to train in Rome in 1614 under Carlo Maderna and Bernini. Many of Borrominis buildings incorporated many shapes and different forms. For two centuries after, he was considered deranged, and thus the word Baroque was given to this period because it means abnormal.
The most distinct shape of the Baroque style is the use of the oval. It appeared in many churches and was very characteristic of the time. The architects like to interlace many ovals to create large open spaces that were different from just a plain old circle. The domes on many of these churches were oval shaped, but on some, they were circular. This posed a problem because many ceiling spaces were oval shaped. To accomplish putting a circular dome on an oval space, the architect had to use very strange angles, but it did create space for sculptures and paintings.
Rococo was the last phase of Baroque in France. It was a light-hearted, decorative style invented to suit the people of Paris. Rococo got its name from rocaille which means rocks and shells. I think that they were trying to say that the Rococo style of architecture was supposed to indicate the natural forms of its decorations, tree branches, sea shells, surf, coral, seaweed, spray, and scrolls. One of the main characteristic of the Rococo style was rooms that were meant to have music played in them.
Many of the rooms became simple rectangular rooms with rounded corners. Also, something that appeared in almost every Rococo style room was the presence of highly ornate sculpture and lots of gold. It was everywhere, on the window sills, in the walls, in the drapes, over the door, and a whole lot of other places. It was during the Rococo style that the term "French Window" came into use. A French window is a large window stretching all the way from the ground to the ceiling. Also, mirrors were common in Rococo style rooms.
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