"style of architecture and decoration which prevailed in Europe late 17c. through much of 18c., later derided as clumsy in form and extravagant in contorted ornamentation," 1765, from French baroque "irregular" (15c.), said to be from Portuguese barroco "imperfect pearl," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps related to Spanish berruca "a wart."
This style in decorations got the epithet of Barroque taste, derived from a word signifying pearls and teeth of unequal size. [Fuseli's translation of Winkelmann, 1765]
The Spanish word is perhaps from Latin verruca "a steep place, a height," hence "a wart," also "an excrescence on a precious stone" (see verruca). But Klein suggests the name may be from Italian painter Federico Barocci (1528-1612), whose work influenced the style. How to tell baroque from rococo, according to Fowler: "The characteristics of baroque are grandeur, pomposity, and weight; those of rococo are inconsequence, grace, and lightness." But the two terms have been used without distinction for styles featuring odd and excessive ornamentation.
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