Rococo was an artistic style that emerged in France and spread throughout Europe, and later throughout America, between 1715 and 1750-60 , although there were later manifestations in different regions.
Its beginning is usually located after the death of the French King Louis XIV , who had been the greatest exponent of monarchical absolutism , since there the nobles and the French upper bourgeoisie were freed from the rigidity and formality that this king had imposed in the cut.
As a consequence of this liberation, the upper classes dedicated themselves to seeking the enjoyment of the pleasures of life . Thus, an artistic style emerged that, in addition to reflecting these searches, decorated the palaces with scenes of home intimacy, romances, parties, theatrical performances, walks in the open air, among others.
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The main characteristics of the Rococo style are the following:
- The name “rococo” comes from a type of ornamentation common at the time, called rocaille, which is made up of seashells, snails and asymmetrical, fanciful and curvilinear rocks.
- It sought to reflect the pleasure of the members of the highest classes of society : the aristocracy and the wealthy bourgeoisie.
- It gave rise to the appearance of new decorative, pictorial and musical genres . For example, in painting, a la fête galante , scenes of people engaged in courtship; and to fun or fête champêtre , party scenes performed in gardens.
- The great themes, the solemn scenes and the imposing of the Baroque , the previous style, were replaced by fun, sensual, joyful, refined and unconventional themes.
Architecture in the rococo
In architecture, the interior concept appeared as part of architectural design, both in decoration and in the search for comfort .
The exterior of the buildings was made less rigid and simpler , leaving aside the elements typical of the traditional classical orders to avoid effects of solemnity. Thus, the facades were flattened and simplified .
However, in the interiors, the ornamentation began to take very elegant and refined forms with the characteristic ornamentations of rocaille and the use of paintings, tapestries, carpets and luxurious furniture.
In France, the rococo was used mainly in private palaces . In contrast, in Germany, where it was widely used, the style was applied to public and private buildings , and even to religious buildings.
The most important characteristics of the rococo in architecture were:
- The attention to the comfort and enjoyment of those who inhabited those spaces.
- The use of wavy and curved shapes in ornamentation.
- The search to create cheerful and bright environments, with special attention to lighting through windows, mirrors, crystal lamps, light colors and the use of gold and silver in the ornamental reliefs.
- Ornamental freedom through the use of a wide variety of resources, but always with the aim of creating light, happy, comfortable and intimate environments.
- The decorative arts became very important : furniture, tapestries, lamps, etc.
- A wide development of the construction of buildings for leisure : hunting lodges, small summer palaces, country cabins, intimate spaces.
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Painting in the rococo
Rococo painting was characterized by its preference in the use of light and luminous colors to represent both subjects alluding to the daily life of the upper classes, as well as subjects that reflected their desires for fun and pleasure .
Instead of the great battle scenes or solemn portraits of nobles, which had characterized the previous period, Rococo painting depicted festivals , romances, nudes in mythological scenes, erotic affairs, domestic interiors, and children’s activities.
Music in the rococo
Rococo music, commonly called “gallant music,” derived from baroque music but tended to be lighter and more intimate , to avoid producing great emotional impacts.
Some of its exponents were Jean Philippe Rameau, Georg Philipp Telemann, Domenico Scarlatti, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Johann Christian Bach.
Literature in the rococo
Following the spirit of the time, the rococo literature developed erotic, sensual and light themes, with an elegant and refined writing for the consumption of the upper and cultured classes.
Among the main Rococo artists are:
- Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) : considered the painter who started the Rococo in France.
- François Boucher (1703-1770) : a very appreciated painter at the French court, where he developed the gallant style so appreciated by the nobles.
- Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779) : one of the most important French painters of the period. It was characterized by its painting of the bourgeoisie, interiors and still lifes.
- Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770) : Italian painter and printmaker, who was one of the most important figures of Italian Rococo.
- François de Cuvilliés (1695-1768) : French architect who worked in Germany, where he adapted Rococo to local taste.