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The seven episode documentary series Understanding Art: Baroque & Rococo takes a thorough look at two significant art movements that produced many of the world's greatest artists. Directed by Waldemar Januszczak, each one-hour segment covers a specific movement within each artistic period. Baroque segments detail how Caravaggio brought biblical scenes to life in great detail, how Vermeer and Rembrandt break new ground with intimate portraits of locals at work and play along with Christopher Wren's architectural work in England. The Rococo segments detail the work of artists and architects such as Balthasar Neumann, Gainsborough and William Hogarth.

RLJ Entertainment
1 Season, 7 Episodes
January 1, 2014
Documentary & Biography
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Understanding Art: Baroque & Rococo Full Episode Guide

  • Januszczak examines the life and work of underrated English artist William Dobson, who as exiled King James's court painter, brought the English Civil War to life.

  • France's Watteau populates canvases with delirious lovers, while England's Gainsborough paints a new view of childhood. In Versailles, a social climber leaves a lasting legacy in nail polish, champagne glasses, and hairstyles. Between conquests, Frederick the Great finds respite in Sanssouci, a single-story rococo sanctuary.

  • In Heidelberg, pilgrims loosen their purse strings after thrilling to Balthasar Neumann's extravagant Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Saxony's Augustus the Strong ruthlessly unlocks the secrets of porcelain manufacturing, fueling a craze for exotic figurines. On the Adriatic, Canaletto's sunny paintings of Venice gloss over its gritty reality.

  • Baroque lands in England, and King Charles I champions painters Rubens and Van Dyck--with deadly consequences. 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.

  • Spanish painter Vel'ázquez renders an incestuous royal family in grotesque glory, while Zurbar'án paints the fervent ecstasy of martyrs and monks. In Holland, Vermeer and Rembrandt break new ground with intimate portraits of locals at work and play, while Rubens pursues voluptuous passions in Belgium.

  • 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.

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