Rococo Art & Architecture

Rococo, often known as late Baroque, developed during the 18th century in Paris and evolved from the Baroque style of art and architecture. It was a style observed in sculptures, painting, interior design, furniture, decorative arts and architecture. Even though it emerged from the late Baroque style, it focused on lightness and elegance unlike the strict regulations of Baroque. The word Rococo is derived from a French word called “Rocaille" which means ornamented with pebbles, rocks or seashells. As the term signifies we can easily see an exceptionally ornamental and dramatic style of architecture,  the use of pastel shades of colors  and asymmetrical compositions that produce illusion of forms, motion and drama in  the art of this period.


While the  exterior of rococo architecture is simple, the  interior is richly decorated with intricate designs, stunning pieces of decor and theatrical paintings. Below is an example of a Rococo architecture in Amalienburg, popularly known as Hall of Mirrors which shows a simplified view of the outer building and the grandeur of stucco details inside the structure. This was planned and designed by Johann Baptist Zimmermann a painter and stucco plasterer who worked during the Baroque & Rococo period. 

View of the exterior & interior of “Hall of Mirrors” at Amalienburg by Johann Baptist Zimmermann (1734–1739)

The artists focused on fundamental shapes of “C” and “S” for moldings, ceilings and walls. The heavy ornamentation and complex interlocking designs were often an integration of painting, molded stucco and woodwork that depicted angels, natural elements like birds, animals, vegetal forms like flowers, leaves, vines and musical instruments. The curves and countercurves of the decoration were woven with delicate details that had a color of gold, ivory white or light shades of pastel hues. Rococo in Venice was also noted for its exceptional Venetian Glasswares traditionally made on the island of Murano, by engraving, gilding or coloring on a soda-lime metal.

The style of Rococo that began as interior design, soon extended to painting and quickly spread to Germany, Austria, England and other European countries. The paintings are characterized by their playfulness, amalgamation of natural elements with use of soft pastel shades, elaborate decorations, capturing atmospheric light that celebrate recreation, love and youth. Famous Rococo painters include Jean-Antoine Watteau, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, François Boucher, Jean-François de Troy, Giambattista Tiepolo and Franz Anton Maulbertsch. 

Similar to the style of paintings, Rococo sculptures also depict exclusive dynamism, theatrical ambiance, having a sensual approach to the three dimensional forms. They were often found integrated with the architecture as a part of palaces or churches in Spain, Austria & Germany. French sculptors during this period were mostly working in marble and stucco which were massive in size while some small ones were created for wealthy collectors which could be reproduced in terracotta or casted in bronze.

Apart from architecture, paintings, sculptures and architecture Rococo period is also famous for its porcelain works, furniture designs & great sense of fashion along with the growth of European factories and 1745 became the Golden Age of the Rococo with the introduction of a more exotic, oriental culture in France called a la turque.     

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