Diffusion of Baroque

Introduction

The birthplace and heart of Baroque art and architecture was Rome, from which the style spread across Europe.1 The movement was driven partly by the Roman Catholic Church, which sought to stem the losses of the Reformation via the compelling spirituality of overtly dramatic artistic works.2 Generally speaking, Baroque thrived in its fullest form in southern Western Europe, while a restrained classical-Baroque compromise was reached in the north. The former aesthetic may be referred to as full Baroque, the latter restrained Baroque.

leading regions of "full Baroque" leading regions of "restrained Baroque"
Italy, Iberia, southern Germany/Austria, Flanders France, England, northern Germany, Netherlands

Phases of Baroque

The full Baroque aesthetic developed during the Early Baroque period (ca. 1600-25), then culminated during the High Baroque (ca. 1625-75). Both periods were led by Italy. The restrained Baroque aesthetic culminated during the Late Baroque (ca. 1675-1725). The Baroque age concluded with the French-born Rococo style (ca. 1725-1800), in which the violence and drama of Baroque was quieted to a gentle, playful dynamism. The Late Baroque and Rococo periods were led by France.

phase of the Baroque age leading region
Early Baroque (ca. 1600-25) Italy
High Baroque (ca. 1625-75)
Late Baroque (ca. 1675-1725) France
Rococo (ca. 1725-1800)

Note that while the Baroque era dawned in Italy ca. 1600, it took decades for the movement to diffuse across Europe. (Baroque art also flourished, to a limited extent, in Eastern Europe.) It is thus only natural that the full Baroque aesthetic should have culminated first, followed by restrained Baroque.

1 - "Baroque, in art and architecture", Columbia Encyclopedia. Accessed June 2009.
2 - "Western Architecture: Baroque and Rococo", Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed June 2009.
3 - "Western Painting: Baroque", Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed July 2009.