Baroque, European style of art and architecture, and by extension, music, that flourished from the early 17th to the mid-18th century. The style in art emphasized dramatic lighting, emotional portrayal of subjects, and the illusion of depth. The direct simplicity, apparent realism, and revolutionary painting technique of the Italian artist Michelangelo Caravaggio (1573–1610) helped to spread baroque art throughout Europe. The same effects were adapted to sculpture, as seen in the works of Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680), whose Ecstasy of St. Theresa (1646) has a softness and fluidity typical of the style. From Rome baroque art spread to Naples with Luca Giordano (1632–1705) and to Venice with Giovanni Piazetta (1683–1754) and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696–1770). Outside Italy the baroque was modified by national tastes and traditions. In Holland, where life was dominated by a prosperous Protestant middle class, religious and mythological subjects gave way to portraits, still lifes, interior scenes, and landscapes. Frans Hals (1580–1666), Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–69), and Jan Vermeer (1632–1675) explored techniques of light effects. In Flanders, high baroque art was epitomized in the art of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640). In France Caravaggio's influence can be seen in the works of Georges de la Tour (1593–1652), Louis le Nain (1593–1648), and Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665). After 1680 the impact of Rubens, who was employed at the French court, is evident. In Spain important painters of the Baroque included the court painter Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez (1599–1660) and Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1617–1682).
Music of the early Baroque was characterized by simplicity; the florid style often identified as baroque did not appear in music until around 1700. The period began around 1600 in Italy with the invention of opera, originally an attempt to reproduce the declamation of classical Greek drama, best exemplified in the music of Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643). The Baroque also saw the cultivation of virtuoso instrumental writing and the development of the concerto by Antonio Vivaldi (c. 1675–1741) and others in Italy. In France, Jean Baptiste Lully (1632–87) composed orchestral ballet music; in England, Henry Purcell (c.1659–95) wrote theater works and George Frideric Handel (1685–1759), oratorios. In Germany, church composer and organ and harpsichord virtuoso Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) perfected the fugue.