Rococo Art Movement

France 1710 - 1785

Rococo Art Movement, History, Rococo Paintings & Artists.

The Rococo Art Movement took hold in French society when Louis XIV became king and decided to move the court life away from royal residence at Versailles. During the reign of Louis XV, the Rococo erotic-Galante and fete-Galante style of painting became established, which was appreciated in courtly circles and was epitomized by the personal tastes of the Marquise de Pompadour. Louis the XV would be a “perpetual adolescent”, so the lively playful nature and delicacy of the Rococo style were appropriate to his rule.

Madame de Pompadour, the king’s mistress, and authority of all things stylish was a major patron of the Rococo arts in France. It was unusual for a mistress to play such a role and so once known, she became associated with the style. She commissioned portraits of herself. The common people were not impressed with her lavish waste of wealth on what was beginning to be seen as decadent, degenerate art. Rococo is a word combining both “rocaille” French for “shell”, and “barocco”, Italian for Baroque, the art style that came before Rococo.

Voyeurism Goes Mainstream in French Painting.

Francois Boucher, a painter whose style was crisp, light and luminous, was the leading exponent of this genre. In Arcadian settings, far-removed from the perfect landscapes of the seventeenth-century Neoclassical artists, ladies and gallants in peasant costume play artificially games. There is a clear connection here with the contemporary development of pastoral plays. Greater spontaneity is found in Boucher's domestic interiors, subtle glimpses of bourgeois rooms, bedrooms, and boudoirs, where he captures the intimate, secret aspect day to day existence, portrayed with a touch of pleasurable voyeurism. The fete-Galante genre portrays joyful topics: noble gatherings, dances, passionate advances, garden amusements, masked balls, theatrical entertainments and sensual amusements, usually featuring medium-sized or small figures

In contrast with the former art style, Rococo art reflected a lack of depth and its depiction of a high society seeking personal amusement was in itself a response to the convention of the Baroque style. Rococo was playful, painters showed lovey-dovey themes and aristocracy at play with light-hearted themes revolving around fun, lovers and mischievous behavior. It used soft and bright colors in a very optimistic “life is beautiful” ambiance. Also, the artwork was profound or provocative. Even the size of paintings went through a drastic change, oil canvases were much smaller to make them ideal for decoration. Being decorative was the reason why Rococo art did not get much respect from art scholars.

How to Identify French Rococo Art Movement Paintings.

1. A cheerful portrayal of household life in the high society home. Le Dejeuner or The Breakfast by Francois Boucher.

2. Carefully dressed aristocrats at play, usually in peaceful pastoral landscapes. The Lesson of Love by Jean-Antoine Watteau.

3. Look for courting, beauty, romance, fun, playfulness and sexual symbols Young Singer With A Mandolin by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

4. Legendary themes. Diana after the Hunt by François Boucher.

5. Pastel hues, delicate and light shades, are normal for the period. A Lady in a Garden taking Coffee with some Children by Nicolas Lancret.

6. Look for cherubs hovering around the painting, chubby, nude male babies with wings. The Toilet of Venus by François Boucher.

Ponytails and Periwigs in German  Painting.

Germans saw the period as that of “pigtails and periwigs”. Rococo art history in central Europe which was ravaged by wars took a completely different look and feel. During the seventeenth century, painting in war-ravaged Central Europe was not the expression of a unified school, though there were several interesting artists. A school, however, emerged during the following century when there was a great ferment in the fields of architecture, ornamental sculpture, and painting, in Austria and Catholic regions of Germany. This marked the beginning of a fertile period in art. On the one hand, famous artists like the Asam brothers, painted monumental decorative schemes for princely clients and the great reconstructed Benedictine abbeys, while on the other hand, many small oil paintings, sketches for larger works, or even independent compositions, painted with a fresh immediacy were being produced. After the middle of the century, a movement for the “moralization” of art began in Germany. The country with the most original and inventive Rococo works laid the theoretical foundations for and produced concrete examples of an austere art based on classical models.  Neoclassicism succeeded Rococo which after all the excess of artists looked for a more harmonious art.

For the first time, neither the Church nor governments played any role in the rise of this art movement. It was a sign that French society was less devoted to religion. Not so in Catholic Central Europe.

Other Rococo Artists: Rosalba Carriera, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, Alexandre-François Desportes, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Corrado Giaquinto, Jean-Marc Nattier, Giovanni Battista, Élizabeth Louise Vigée-Lebrun

Partly from: Identify This Art &

Famous Rococo Art Movement Oil Painting Reproductions.

Rococo Art Movement Painters Biography & Painting Reproductions.

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