J.H. Fragonard: The Swing, c.1767.
J.H.Fragonard, The Swing, c.1767.

  • Historical and Artistic context: Art for a society
         There are many who believe that Rococo is to Baroque what Mannerism is to Renaissance. Rococo is oftenly considered the culmination of Baroque. However, it is much more than this. We should extend Rococo as an independent and personal style. Unlike Baroque, Rococo is not concerned about religious matters, it is an eminent aristocratic art, an art for the upper middle class fond of a fashionable style, intimate and delicate . The society loves freedom, good taste and pleasure. The artistic and intelectual elite gathered in rooms at the head of which we could find women as important as madame Pompadur.

         Rococo is initially born and restricted to France, although later on, many of its features influce all Europe. The movement will continue to develop until the arrival of Neoclassicism which tried to return to the purism of the classic ancient world.

  • Origen of the term Rococo
          The term Rococo comes from the words: rocaille (small stones) and coquille (shell). The small stones were of great importance when adorning great canvases of walls and interiors. Irregular and asimétric shaped shells were also used a lot. Thus a rithym of bends in one way and the other is generated and will be recognised not only in architecture, but also in painting, sculpture and decorative arts of this period.
  • The most represented subjects

         The favourite subjects for representation in painting are: Gallant country parties, ladies, rigodones, minuets and courtesan love affairs. Because of this, mithological characters such as Venus and Love are brought back and are mixed in the scenes represented, giving the compositions a sensual, cheerful and fresh tone.

         It is usual to refer to the Rococo style as a charming style. The name comes from the verb galer, which in French means to be brave and skilful treating women. Gallant is one who knows how to treat and please a woman. The figure of the woman is a source of inspiration in painting. The woman is a sensual and beautiful figure, more and more educated. She seduces and takes part in forbidden adventures. The scene in which the pictoric plot is set helps society identify itself with the characters of pastoral and idilic stories.

         For all these characteristics, Rococo is considered a frivolous art, exclusively for the aristocracy, unaware of social problems and only interested in its own rest and pleasure.

  • Representatives of Rococo:

    Written by:
    Beatriz Aragonés Escobar.
    Bachelor of History of Art

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