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Louis XIV 'sdesire to glorify his dignity and the magnificence of France resulted in the monumental and formal qualities of Versailles. But members of the succeeding court began to decorate their elegant homes in a lighter, more delicate manner. This new style has been known since the last century as "rococo," from the French word, rocaille, for rock and shell garden ornamentation. First emerging in the decorative arts,

rococoemphasized pastel colors, sinuous curves, and patterns based on flowers, vines, and shells.


Rococo style started out in the decorative arts and architecture. Furniture and facades became sensational, and interiors and costumes are decorated with shells, frills, gold leaf and ribbons.

In GermanyRococo was favored by the princes, in particular by Frederic II of Prussia. It can be found in palaces or in pilgrimage churches in Germany, where it reached its limits.


Cuvilles Mirror Room, Anolienburg, Germany. This is the finest example of Rococo interior design.
  • Cuvilles, Anolienburg, Germany
Potsdam, Germany Tea House –

In the 17th and 18th century it was summer residence of Prussian Kings and German Emperors.

Baroque architectural forms were not separate as in Classical style, but tended to blend together and overlap.
  • Kaisersaal, Bavaria
  • Kaisersaal, Bavaria
Rococostyle rooms were designed as total works of art with elegant and ornate furniture, small sculptures, ornamental mirrors, and tapestry complementing architecture, reliefs, and wall paintings
  • The 1730s represented the height of Rococo development in France. The style had spread beyond architecture and furniture to painting and sculpture
Paintersturned from grand, heavy works to the sensual surface delights of color and light, and from weighty religious and historical subjects—though these were never ignored completely—to more intimate mythological scenes, views of daily life, and portraiture. Similarly, sculptors increasingly applied their skills to small works for the appreciation of private patrons.

Ceres (Summer)1712, Antoine WatteauOil on canvasThe National Gallery of Art

Washington, DC, USA.

rococo was fashionable primarily in france
Thepopularity of the Rococo style was inspired in part by the works of the celebrated painter Antoine Watteau. Rococo -was fashionable primarily in France.

Watteau's elegant paintings perfectly embody the Rococo ideal of grace and playfulness. In addition, the painter's compositions often were asymmetrical.This stylish asymmetry in turn became an important characteristic of Rococo art & design.

Watteauwas not the only champion of the Rococo style, however. Two artists,

François Boucher & Jean-Honoré Fragonardalso created artistic confections that dazzle viewers with their charm and sophistication.

  • Francois Boucher
  • Jean-Honore Fragonard
BoucherBest known for his fashionably frivolous depictions of rosy-cheeked aristocratic ladies, pudgy putti, and idealized mythological subjects, François Boucher's paintings are the essence of Rococo.

Allegory of Painting1765 Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC


  • Fragonard’sworks reflect the carefree world enjoyed by France during the Rococo period. The colors are bright and shiny, and the brush strokes are very delicate. He had a great imagination, wit, and refinement that combined to create poetic canvases that represent the best aspects of the period of Louis XVI with skilled, piercing observation.
  • A Young Girl Reading,1776 Oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • FragonardOne of Fragonard's most representative works is the playful painting The Swing, in which a pastel clad lady flicks a tiny shoe into the air while her delighted lover watches.

After the revolution, he was ousted and forced to paint in the Neo-classical style, which he refused to do. He died in poverty, forgotten.

  • The Swing1776 Oil on canvas, Wallace Collection, London
Rococo -

Marie Antionette’scourt painter during this period is Elizabeth Vigée le Brun (1755-1842)

Her style is neoclassical in exhibiting ideals of simplicity and purity. Her work can also be considered Rococo in its grace, delicacy, and naturalism.

The 1789 French Revolution halts the development of Rococo rather suddenly, and neo-Classicism is brought back.

  • Portrait of Marie Antionette, Queen of France, beheaded in 1793Oil on Canvas, 1779,Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. .
  • Marie Antionette & her childrenOil on Canvas, 1787Versailles, France
  • Vigée le Brunis recognized as the most famous woman painter of the eighteenth century.After the arrest of the royal family during the French Revolution Vigée-Le Brun fled France. She lived and worked for some years in Italy, Austria, and Russia, where her experience in dealing with an aristocratic clientèle was still useful. In Rome, her paintings met with great critical acclaim and she was elected to the Roman Academy of Art.
  • Self Portrait in a Straw Hat, 1782, National Gallery of Art, London
Rococo -
  • Vigée le Brunwas received in Russia by the nobility and painted numerous members of the family of Catherine the Great. While there, Vigée-Le Brun was made a member of the Academy of Fine Arts of Saint Petersburg.There are two portraits done at this time displayed at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City.
  • Princess Eudocia Ivanovna Galitzine as Flora,1799 Oil on canvas, Utah Museum of Fine Arts (left)
  • Portrait of Princess Natalia Ivanovna Kourakin, nee Golovina, 1797, Oil on canvas, UMFA
Rococo -
  • Vigée le Brunwas welcomed back to France during the reign of Napoleon I. Much in demand by the élite of Europe, she visited England at the beginning of the nineteenth century and painted the portrait of several British notables including Lord Byron.
  • In 1807 she traveled to Switzerland and was made an honorary member of the Société pour l'Avancement des Beaux-Arts of Geneva.
  • Vigée le Brun died in Paris at the age of 87, leaving over 660 portraits and 200 landscapes.
  • Self Portrait 1790 Oil on canvas, Painted in Florence, Italy