Rococo : Art Movement

Self-portrait in the Studio by François Boucher, 1720

Your soul is like a landscape – Paul Verlaine

The Brunette Odalisque by François Boucher, 1745

Centuries before the term “bling” was invented to denote ostentatious shows of luxury, Rococo infused the world of art and interior design with an aristocratic idealism that favored elaborate ornamentation and intricate detailing. The paintings that became signature to the era were created in celebration of Rococo’s grandiose ideals and lust for the aristocratic lifestyle and pastimes. The movement, which developed in France in the early 1700s, evolved into a new, over-the-top marriage of the decorative and fine arts, which became a visual lexicon that infiltrated 18th century continental Europe.

The Art Story
Self-portrait wearing Glasses by Jean-Siméon Chardin, 1775
"One of the more peculiar artists of the Rococo period was Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin who was well-known for his ability to produce incredibly-realistic still-life works. Chardin was one of the original group of French painters that first ventured into the Rococo style and would later be one of the most prominent figures in the era. Some of his most well-known works were still-life paintings such as The Buffet (1728), Basket of Peaches (1768), and Still Life with Plums (1730). He is known by art historians as one of the most influential members of the early Rococo movement." - artst
"Chardin's genre paintings share a lot of similarities with his still lifes. Unlike his contemporaries who were consumed with the allegorical and figurative aspects typical of Rococo painting, Chardin gave as much attention to the objects in his paintings as he did the people. More typically in portraiture, objects appear only as 'accessories' to the person portrayed. But pictured in moments of quiet reflection, Chardin’s sitters often seem to be the accessories themselves.

Genre paintings were popular ways to represent the Rococo period’s bold and joyous lust for life. This included fete galante, or works denoting outdoor pastimes, erotic paintings alive with a sense of whimsical hedonism, Arcadian landscapes, and the “celebrity” portrait, which positioned ordinary people in the roles of notable historical or allegorical characters.

Left to right : Pietà by Baciccio, Self-Portrait with Spectacles and Soap Bubbles by Jean Baptiste Siméon Chardin, The Entrance of the Great Canal by Canaletto, Self-Portrait with Straw Hat by Élisabeth Louise Vigée Lebrun, The Swing by Jean Honoré Fragonard, Pierrot by Jean Antoine Watteau, Allegory of the Planets and Continents by Tiepolo.
Rococo art and architecture carried a strong sense of theatricality and drama, influenced by stage design. Theater's influence could be seen in the innovative ways painting and decorative objects were woven into various environments, creating fully immersive atmospheres.

Detail-work flourished in the Rococo period. Stucco reliefs as frames, asymmetrical patterns involving motifs and scrollwork, sculptural arabesque details, gilding, pastels, and tromp l'oeil are the most noted methods that were used to achieve a seamless integration of art and architecture.

The term "rococo" was first used by Jean Mondon in his Premier Livre de forme rocquaille et cartel (First book of Rococo Form and Setting) (1736), with illustrations that depicted the style used in architecture and interior design. The term was derived from the French rocaille, meaning "shell work, pebble-work," used to describe High Renaissance fountains or garden grottos that used seashells and pebbles, embedded in stucco, to create an elaborate decorative effect."

- The Art Story

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