Difference between Baroque and Rococo

Baroque and Rococo are often viewed as terms that refer to basically the same art movement. In this article, we will see what the differences between these terms are.


Baroque vs Rococo
A side by side comparison of two Baroque and Rococo buildings

The Baroque movement in arts emerged as a reaction of Catholic artists to the newly emerged Protestant movement. The first baroque artists appeared in Italy in the beginning of the 17th century, but the movement quickly spread throughout Europe.

The movement in general is characterized by an appeal to the senses, rather than to the intellectual, intricate and formulaic Mannerist style which dominated the Late Renaissance.

A classic sensual portrait painted by notable Italian master of the Baroque art movement Michelangelo di Caravaggio

Rococo is viewed by some art historians as a more frivolous extension of barocco, as its final overture, so to speak. The movement is thought to have started with architecture in Rome and in Northern Italy. Characterized by a more playful approach than that of the Baroque’s masters, rococo was influential throughout South Europe until the middle of the 18th century when it was replaced by the Neoclassicist style.

examples of the classic rococo approach and style
French pastoral scenes painted by Antoine Watteau are examples of the classic rococo approach and style
Italian mirror showcasing typical Baroque style design
Italian mirror showcasing typical Baroque style design, but with added asymmetrical patterns that had become characteristic of the very late Baroque, which is a definition of Rococo by some art historians

Baroque vs Rococo

What is the difference between baroque and rococo?

baroque painting
Peter Paul Rubens’ Perseus freeing Andromeda, a classic Baroque painting.

While baroque reflected its era with dark undertones and a new wave of chiaroscuro, rococo is certainly a more light-hearted movement. Rococo artists depicted an easier, more pastoral life style.

classic Rococo style painting
Andre Fragonard, The Swing, 1767. A classic Rococo style painting

Comparison chart

Baroque Rococo
Originated in Italy, at the beginning of the 17th century Originated in Italy, at the end of the 17th century, but had become more popular in France
Was an influence and a predecessor to Rococo Is the last stage in the development of Barocco
Grandiose, colorful, powerful, detailed, triumphant, at times very dark in mood Frivolous, whimsical, intentionally silly and playful, lighthearted in mood