What are the characteristics common to all of the arts in the Baroque Period?
There are three main tendencies to all forms of the Baroque, including painting, sculpture, architecture, and music.
The first is related to the Counter-Reformation, also known as the Catholic Reformation and the Catholic Revival. The Jesuit order was created out of this movement, which developed in response to the Protestant Reformation and encouraged more intellectualism among Catholics. The proponents of the Counter-Reformation sought to promote art and architecture that would inspire great awe in the faithful, reminding them of the grandeur of the divine. An example of this in sculpture would be Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, which employs Classical conventions in sculpture while also relying heavily on mannerisms and strong emotional effects on the viewer.
The second convention was monumental architecture, constructed in the interest of displaying the wealth of the middle-class. Palaces expanded during this period to show off the increasing power of absolute monarchies. A well-known example of this would be the Palace of Versailles, which was exemplary of the extraordinary power of Louis XIV.
The third convention is related to the Scientific Revolution and the expansion of interest in the natural world. This led to the development of landscape painting in the seventeenth-century. The French painter Nicolas Poussin is a particularly well-known example of a popular landscape painter in this era. Like many other Baroque painters, he also included the conventions of the Classical world, related to unity of form and mythological subject matter.
In many ways it is difficult to compare styles across multiple art forms. It is particularly complex in the case of the baroque, as it was an international movement spanning verbal, visual, and aural realms. In most genres, the baroque is characterized by proliferation of ornament combined with direct (as opposed to complexly symbolic or allegorical) representation and a combination of structural symmetry, elaboration, and movement. Visually typical are the use of domes in architecture and chiaroscuro. Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Bernini are considered baroque artists. In music, counterpoint and harmony were extremely important. Although many great composers worked in this period (Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann), perhaps the most characteristic works in sheer technical virtuosity are those of Bach, especially The Art of the Fugue and the Brandenburg Concertos.