Thursday, both a fellow Professor and a student asked me what the difference between the Baroque and Rococo is. Since I had 2 people ask me the same exact question in less then 24 hours, it made me think, “hum,… perhaps this is a question many people have”. After giving it a little thought and trying to find a way to best describe it in an approachable and easily understood manner here it is:
The difference between The Baroque and Rococo essentially boils down to 2 things: the amount of “frilly-ness” (if that’s a word) and subject matter. The Baroque is highly ornate and focuses on emotion and the “theatrical”. See The Ecstasy of St. Teresa for a great example.
Another way to get a feel for The Baroque is to compare the 3 Davids.
The first 2 by Michelangelo and Donatello are both considered Renaissance. The third, Bernini’s is Baroque.
- Notice the difference in poses?
- Notice the difference in facial expressions?
- Notice the different moments in time for the story?
Rococo, is different in than the Baroque in that it takes that realistic style and makes it over-real. It almost becomes stylized. A great example of the Rococo is Fragonard. Wikipedia says of the style (and I think that it is pretty funny they use the word hedonism) “The late Rococo manner was distinguished by remarkable facility, exuberance, and hedonism.” So it was still realistic, but the subject was entirely different. The Rococo focused on the pleasures and pastimes of the rich. Notice that the trees and bushes are stylized swirls. The colors are bright pastels. Everything is exaggerated and stylized. Top that off with the subject matter being almost naughty and you have the essential differences between the Baroque and the Rococo.