Rococo Art

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Transcript Rococo Art

Rococo Art
The Rococo period followed the
Baroque period and is associated
primarily with France in the 18th century
The Rococo period was characterized by:
• Elegance
• Gaiety
• Decorative qualities
• Graceful flowing line
• Bright or pastel colours
• Excessive ornamentation
The Rococo period is associated with the
carefree life of the French aristocracy, who
spent their time chasing pleasure and
The court of the French kings, at the palace
of Versailles, was the magnificent setting
for the frivolous lives of the French nobility
in the 18th century.
The Palace of Versailles
Versailles – The Hall of Mirrors
• King Louis XIV (14th) established the
palace and required that the aristocracy all
live there where he could keep a tight
reign on them.
• He called himself the Sun King (hence all
the gold in the palace and the sun motifs
everywhere), and made himself into a sort
of demigod.
• Everything he did was a ceremony that
was observed by an audience – eating,
bathing, dressing – and only the most
privileged aristocrats were allowed to
assist with these activities.
• The chapel at Versailles was arranged so
that Louis could observe mass being said,
but everyone else was positioned to watch
him praying!
• There were two more Louis, before all this
excess came crashing down during the
French Revolution of 1789.
• King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie
Antoinette, lived in careless disregard for
the suffering of the poor classes in France
and paid the price when they lost their
heads at the guillotine after the revolution.
• In the meantime, let’s look at the kind of
art that was produced in this gilded age.
Antoine Watteau
1684 - 1721
• Watteau began his career as an interior
decorator and rose to become the court
painte to King Louis XV. Although he
painted religious works and portraits,
Watteau is best known for pictures of
characters or scenes from the theater as
well as paintings showing the French
aristocracy at play.
The Embarkation for Cythera
• This painting is quintessential rococo; it
depicts young aristocrats enjoying
themselves, and it is painted with the
elegant, flowing lines of the Rococo style.
• The subject of this painting comes from a play
and shows a happy group of young aristocrats
about to set sail from Cythera, the legendary
island of romance. (For two hundred years this
famous painting has been known by the wrong
name! It has always been called “Embarkation
for Cythera” but recent interpretations point out
that is shows a departure from the mythical
island of romance.) (Mittler. Art in Focus.)
• The soft, dreamlike atmosphere, luxurious
costumes, dainty figures, and silvery colors give
the picture its unique feeling, or mood. Nothing
is still, but nothing seems strained either. The
figures move with graceful ease.
• Arranged like a garland, they curl over a small
hill and down into a valley bordering the sea. A
similar garland made of cupids playfully twists
around the mast of the ship. (Mittler. Art in
• Embarkation for Cythera appears to be a happy
scene, but it is tempered by a touch of sadness.
One figure in particular seems to sum up this
feeling. It is the woman in the center who casts
one final backward glance as she reluctantly
prepares to join her companions in boarding the
boat. Along with her friends, she has spent a
carefree day on the island paying homage to
Venus, the goddess of love (whose flowercovered statue is seen at the far right of the
• The day is now coming to a close. It is
time to leave this world of make-believe
and return to reality. The woman lingers
for just a moment hoping to capture the
scene in her memory, but her companion
reminds her to hurry – the dream is
• Many of Watteau’s works hint at the
fleeting nature of happiness. …Watteau
was always in poor health, and four years
after this painting was completed, he died,
aged 37. (Mittler. Art in Focus.)
Watteau – Games of Love
Seated Woman with a fan
Watteau – Pleasures of the Ball
Jean Honore
1732 - 1806
Fragonard – The Swing
Fragonard – The Love Letter
The Reader
The Swing
Chardin – Copper Cauldron with
three Eggs
Chardin – Water Glass and Mug
Chardin - Tureen