FRIENDS OF THE LIBRARY: Going for Baroque |


Among Truckee Library’s most recent acquisitions rounding out its collection of books on art and architecture are three volumes entitled “Gothic,” “Renaissance” and “Baroque,” from the Konemann publishing house.

The texts, written by experts, give the reader necessary background material, and a multitude of excellent photos document the grandeur of the periods.

This column will examine the “Baroque” volume in order to give an impression of the quality and quantity of information in these three books.

Baroque style began in Rome around 1600 under the patronage of the popes. There, the early baroque brought a modernization of the cityscape through the introduction of straight roads, piazzas and the planned urbanization of the space surrounding the city center. The creation of long vistas toward obelisks was another significant aspect of baroque urban planning. St. Peter’s, St. Peter’s Square, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain are some of the best known monuments of that period.

In Spain, baroque architecture was ushered in by the construction of El Escorial, a combination monastery and royal palace of Philip II. Later, other areas of Spain such as Andalusia developed their own style independently of the imperial court.

In France, following the example of the urban development of Rome, Paris began with the development of a road network. At the same time, new palaces and church buildings were erected as part of the general expansion of the city.

The baroque edifice of Louis XIV at Versailles became the ultimate European palace, the residence of an absolute monarch, the Sun King. Versailles became the model for many European courts from 1650 through the eighteenth century, with Italian influences also very much in evidence.

By putting the library of the Imperial Palace in Vienna on the front cover and the sculpture of the Assumption of the Virgin found in the village church in Rohr, Bavaria on the back cover, the authors of “Baroque” underline the significance of baroque for Germany and Austria.

Baroque architecture developed late in Germany and Austria, after the end of the Thirty Years War (1618-48), when peace and financial support made possible the building of new structures.

In Northern Germany two of the most interesting palaces are Sanssouci in Potsdam, the summer residence of Frederick II, and the Zwinger in Dresden. In Franconia, baroque architecture is associated principally with one city, Wurzburg, which boasts several palaces.

Further south and as the 18th century progressed, baroque architecture was extended into the realm of illusion. An illusion of space was created by using various perspective devices. Architectural structures were often extended by faux painting walls and ceilings as halls with columns, domes, steps, and pillars, thus creating an architecture of the imagination. Architecture, plasterwork and painting became a harmonious collaboration.

“The splendor and magnificence of Austrian baroque architecture” (p. 246) is centered around churches and castles built mainly in Salzburg and Vienna. My personal favorite among these buildings is the Upper Belvedere in Vienna by Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt.

But look at the pictures of these splendors for yourself. Short of taking an art and architecture tour of Europe, “Baroque” and the related volumes, “Gothic” and “Renaissance,” can give you insight into a world not to be seen on this continent.

Special Programs for Children

— Between the Lions

A PBS Reading Skills Program for ages 4-7, Wednesdays, 4 p.m., Feb. 7 to March 28

Regular Children’s Programs

— Saturday Morning Storytelling

For ages 3 to 7, Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. at the library, with Mrs. Fix from Church of the Mountains Preschool

— Friday Storytime

For ages 3 to 5; Fridays, 10:30 a.m. at the library

Joanne Stacher will bring her trained animals to Storytime on March 2, 16 and 30 and April 13 to introduce preschoolers to the hows, whys and whens of interacting with pets.

— Tuesday Toddlertime

For ages 3 and under; Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. at the library

Truckee Library

10031 Levone Avenue


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