Fran ois Boucher
Rococo was a late eighteenth-century art movement that included painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and interior design. It developed in Paris, France, as a backlash against the rigidity of the Baroque movement. The movement’s art and architecture used fluid lines and curves, ornate designs, and pastel colors.
The Rococo movement originated in France as a backlash against the rigid, heavy style of the Baroque movement, as seen especially at Versailles. It began as a decorative style in architecture and furniture and later developed into an artistic style that included painting, music, and theater. During the reign of Louis XV of France, the art movement represented a lightness of heart with its delicate and playful decor. While it was complex like the Baroque style, it incorporated asymmetrical aspects and influences from other cultures. During the 1730s, Rococo was at the height of style in France, moving later to Great Britain and Germany. Rococo architecture was based on secular themes, erotica, pale colors, and humor. The style was named from the French word, rocaille, for rock and shell garden ornamentation. The style was more graceful than Baroque art and emphasized curves and patterns based on flowers, vines, and shells. It promoted private and asymmetrical spaces. Sweeping flourishes and fantasy were the epitome of style during this era. Due to its delicacy in design, these elements were used primarily indoors for decorating walls, furniture, and ceilings. Rococo painters used pastel colors and curving shapes and typically paintedintimate mythological scenes, love scenes, and images of daily life. Portraits were popular, including some with a hint of mischievousness in the portrayal of the subjects. Some of the artists who represent the era include Jean-Antoine Watteau, Francois Boucher, and Jean-Honor Fragonard. Sculpture was another area influenced greatly by this art movement. Figures featuring romantic icons such as Cupid were sculpted in stucco and porcelain, which were much lighter materials than marble. Rococo stood for a more worldly view in contrast to Baroque’s alignment with the Catholic Church.
- Pilgrimage to Cythera by Jean-Antoine Watteau, 1721
- The Toilette of Venus by Francois Boucher, 1751
- The Stolen Kiss by Jean-Honor Fragonard, c. 1785
- Satyr and Bacchante by Clodion Claude Michel, c. 1775
- Catherine Palace building by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, c. 1717
- The word Rococo was used to mean frivolous by detractors of the style.
- During a revival of the style in Britain during the 1800s, it was mistakenly called the Louis XIV style.
- Many churches of the time did not allow the style because it was considered to detract from the solemnity of prayer.
Some Examples of Rococo Artwork