The word "baroque" comes certainly from the Portuguese word "barucco", which means "irregular pearl". This style appeared by the end of the 16th century, after Mannerism, and it was founded by the Italian artist Caravaggio whose realistic and dark style had an innovative effect. During the same period, in Rome, Carraci was also active. His work had a big influence on the early ages of baroque. Art critics were the ones to name this style "baroque", years later after its first appearance. This style is characterized by exaggerated movement, overcharged decoration, dramatic effects and exuberance.
Baroque expanded to other European countries through the Roman Catholic Church in order to promote religious themes. Believers were marked by the emotion and energy of this type of artworks.
Besides the previously mentioned artists, Fleming artists were the ones that marked baroque painting. We naturally think of Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer. Some French and Spanish painters were also characteristic from this period (Lorrain, Velasquez).
In 1730, baroque style is replaced by Rococo style. The transition is not very obvious since rococo style is described as a "late baroque".