The Rococo style
appeared during the French regency (1715—1723) and reached its climax under Louis XV and Louis XVI (1722—1792). Its hedonistic vein, which was popular among aristocracy, reflected the crisis of absolutism, as well as the tendency to flee from harsh reality into the imaginary and idealistic world of theatrical play. The Rococo style was a product of the exclusively secular culture of the French aristocracy and the royal court.
The philosophy of the Rococo style was determined by women, the King’s mistresses: the Marquise de Pompadour, Madame du Barry, Maria Leshchinsky. Epicureanism in its new meaning, parties and eternal love without regard to age have become synonymous with the style. We can say that Rococo is the ancestor of modern “glossy glamor”.
The style is distinguished by graciousness, lightness, flirty intimacy. Having replaced the heavyweight Baroque, Rococo was both the logical result of its development and its artistic antipode. Rococo combined the Baroque style with the pursuit of completeness. However, Baroque gravitated towards monumental solemnity, whereas Rococo preferred grace and lightness. The lush, heavy gilding of the Baroque decorations and its dark bold tones were replaced by pink, blue, and green, with a large number of nuances. Sometimes the artists of that time deliberately violated the classical compositional rules to gain extra expressiveness.
The Rococo style quickly spread to other countries thanks to French artists who worked abroad. Outside of France, Rococo reached its most glory in Germany and Austria, and was enthusiastically taken in Italy and Spain. This style influenced all European painting of the 18th century, as well as Russian art.
In Europe, the end of the century was marked by the violent social upheavals and revolutions, which naturally led to the decline of the Rococo style and the appearance of romanticism in painting.Significant Rococo paintings:François Boucher
, The Brunette Odalisque
, The Dance
, The Swing (The Happy Accidents of the Swing
, 1767)Rococo painters:Antoine Watteau
, François Boucher
, Jean-Honoré Fragonard
, Ivan Argunov
, Nicolas Lancret
, Jean-Marc Nattier
, Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun
, Fyodor Rokotov
, Dmitry Levitzky
, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
, Pietro Longi
, Bernardo Bellotto
, Adélaïde Labille-Guiard