This spectacular three-part series explores the baroque tradition in many of its key locations. Starting in Italy and following the spread of the wildfire across Europe and beyond, art critic Waldemar Januszczak takes us on a tour of the finest examples of baroque art to be found, and tells the best stories behind those works.
In Baroque! From St. Peter’s to St. Paul’s, Januszczak follows the trajectory of baroque from its beginnings as a Vatican-sanctioned religious art style to its ascendance as the first global art movement.
ZCZ Films Production for BBC
Part 1: Italy
Waldemar Januszczak explores St Peter’s in Rome, and details the birth of the Baroque tradition as it burst forth in Italy. This programme features outstanding high definition footage of St Peter’s Basilica, as well as other gems of the Italian Baroque.
As the Reformation rocks the Catholic Church in Italy, Caravaggio keeps the faith by bringing biblical scenes to life in vivid, dramatic canvases. Architects Bernini and Borromini design cathedrals with sensual curves and playful geometric patterns.
In Naples, art turns deadly as painters ruthlessly defend their turf.
Part 2: Spain and Netherlands
Waldemar Januszczak follows Baroque to its dark heart in Spain, focusing on the route of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Spanish painter Velazquez renders an incestuous royal family in grotesque glory, while Zurbaran paints the fervent ecstasy of martyrs and monks.
Then he explores Baroque art in Netherlands. In Holland, Vermeer and Rembrandt break new ground with intimate portraits of locals at work and play, while Rubens pursues voluptuous passions in Belgium.
Part 3: England
Baroque lands in England, and King Charles I champions painters Rubens and Van Dyck–with deadly consequences.
Waldemar Januszczak explores the English Baroque tradition that finds its climax through a tour of London’s Hawksmoor churches, and Christopher Wren’s iconic St Paul’s Cathedral.
In the wake of a devastating fire, Christopher Wren designs 51 cathedrals in London in grand baroque style. In the countryside, Blenheim Palace takes baroque to absurd new heights.