Baroque in the Slav Countries

Article excerpt

Baroque in the Slav countries

USSIA was no exception to the rule whereby the baroque style was transmitted from country to country by itinerant artists and craftsmen. Among the baroque artists who worked in Russia was the French sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet, who executed the equestrian statue of Peter the Great in Leningrad, while the Italian architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli was the country's most brilliant exponent of baroque architecture. Il Gesu, the famous Jesuit church in Rome, was a source of inspiration for many churches in the Ukraine as well as in Latin America.

With its formal complexity and technical refinements, far removed from the spontaneity of Rousseauism or the Romantic taste for simplicity and naturalism, baroque art lent itself to this form of transmission. In the seventeenth century, mathematical discoveries crossed frontiers in the same way, just as they do today, in a kind of scientific and technological internationalism.

The characteristics of Slav Baroque are linked to the historical and cultural traditions of the different regions in which the Slavs had settled. The Baroque left a very strong imprint among the Catholic Slav peoples of Poland and Dalmatia, just as it did in Protestant, Germanic Bohemia. Its influence was less marked among people of the Orthodox faith in the Ukraine, Byelorussia and Russia, and was felt least of all by the Serbian and Bulgarian peoples under Ottoman domination.

In creative terms, the Slav contribution to European Baroque is more evident in literature than in the fine arts. In the sixteenth century the Polish poet Mikolaj Szarzynski (1550-1581) expressed the anguish of man's isolation in the world and the tragic need for spiritual choice imposed by the conflict between Reformation and Counter-Reformation. …