Early Baroque refers to the period between 1580-1600 and around 1630. In the late 16th century, Mannerism still prevailed with its surprising and often decoratively ornate forms. This is the starting point of the early Baroque, which sought to transform and overcome Mannerism in a conception of art that was as painterly as it was realistic. In the process, the artists initially turned their gaze backwards - this retrospective tendency that could be detected around 1600 was aptly described by Erich Hubala as the "Re-Naissance of the Renaissance".
Such efforts can be observed not only in Italy but also elsewhere - in Germany, for example, there was the so-called "Dürer Renaissance" around 1600, and artistic personalities such as the Weilheim sculptor Hans Krumpper (c. 1570-1634) are exemplary for an early Baroque renewal of art. However, it was the Italian early Baroque alone that had a style-defining effect, especially with a brief phase of painting and Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) on the one hand, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) on the other. Federigo Barocci and Lodovico Cardi (gen. Cigoli) should also be mentioned as pioneers of the new style. In the architecture of Rome, after a phase of transition to which Giacomo della Porta's façade of Il Gesú can be attributed, Carlo Maderno (c. 1556-1629), a native of Switzerland, was at the beginning. He was followed by Francesco Borromini and his more "classically" inclined rival, Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680). The latter became the epitome of the Roman early and high Baroque, especially in the field of sculpture.