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  • Context Apollo’s Bath Grotto, Versailles• In France, the death of Louis XIV in 1715 lead the elites to leavethe court at Versailles for the pleasures of Paris. Although theystill swore allegiance to the French monarchy, the aristocratsexpanded their social, political, and economic power.• The French aristocracy became leading patrons of art, favoringa style that was luxurious, frivolous, sensual, clever, and full ofwitty artifice – Rococo.• The word Rococo comes from a combination of the word“Baroque” and the French word rocaille (roh-KAI), meaning“pebbles,” referring to a style featuring elaborately stylized shell-like, rocklike, flower, fern, and scroll motifs. Originallydesignating the fanciful shell-work of artificial grottoes, rocaillecame to be synonymous with Louis XV style.• A grotto is a natural or artificial cave, usually featuring water,that were used as decorations in gardens, and frequently housedsculptures. Rocaille ornamentation
  • The Salon• After the death of Louis XIV, hôtels (private townhomes, not hotelsas we think of them) replaced the royal court at Versailles.• In these hôtels were held regular salons, or gatherings of people(often of different classes) under the roof of an inspiring host(usually female), held partly to amuse one another and partly torefine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participantsthrough conversation.• At a time when society was defined and regulated almostcompletely by men, women could be a powerful influence only inthe salon. Women were the center of the life in the salon andcarried a very important role as regulators. They could select theirguests and decide about the subjects (social, literary, or political) oftheir meetings.• The salon served as an informal university for women in whichwomen were able to exchange ideas, receive and give criticism, readtheir own works and hear the works and ideas of other intellectuals. Reading from Moliere• The intellectual exchanges which occurred in the frequent Parisian Jean Francois de Troysalons was instrumental in fostering the ideas of the Enlightenment. c. 1728
  • Salon de la Princesse• The feminine look of the Rococo style suggests the taste and socialinitiative of the women who held salons.• In comparison to the Hall of Mirrors of Versailles, the Salon de laPrincesse featured softer, curvier contours instead of straight lines.• The rounded shape of the room is softened further by the gentlecurve of the wall into the ceiling.• Arch-shaped openings (which housed windows or mirrors) areseparated by sections of wall, topped by irregularly shaped paintedsections. Above are sculptures and the arabesque tendrils of therocaille decorations.• The rocaille decorations suggest growing foliage and shell-likeshapes of nature. Salon de la Princesse• In addition to their elaborate painted, sculptural, and architectural Hôtel de Soubise,decorations, salons would have once been additionally decorated Paris, Francewith small sculptures, ceramics, silver pieces, small paintings, Architect: Germain Boffrand Painter: Charles-Joseph Natoireelaborately carved furniture, and tapestries. Sculptor: Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne• The setting would have harmonized with the sounds of chamber c. 1740music, elaborate costumes, and witty conversations which oncefilled the room.
  • Amalienburg Hall of Mirrors François de Cuvilliés• The French Rococo style quickly spread beyond Paris, as evidenced The Amalienburg, Nymphenburg Palace Park.by the Amalienburg, a small lodge designed by the French architect Munich, Germany. Early 1700s.François de Cuvilliés (KOO-vee-yay) in the park of the NymphenburgPalace in Munich, Germany.• The most spectacular room in the Amalienburg is the Hall ofMirrors, which was decorated with a silver and blue ensemble ofarchitecture, stucco relief, silvered bronze mirrors, and crystal.• Silvery light pours in through the windows, and is amplified by theinterior mirrors.• The organic decorations weave rhythmically around the upperwalls and the ceiling coves, as though in motion.
  • Vierzehnheiligen • Although most commonly used in domestic architecture, Rococo style was also occasionally used in churches as well, such as the Pilgrimage Church of Vierzehnheiligen (14 Saints), in Germany. • Numerous windows flood the church with light, giving it a feeling of lightness and delicacy. • Although the exterior of the church appears to be a typical rectilinear basilican plan, the interior is very unusual. In what way is the architectural style of the plan influenced by Borromini? • The fluid flow of the design of connected ovals and circles creates a sense of pulsing motion. • The designs fluidity of line, the floating and hovering surfaces, the interwoven spaces, and the dematerialized masses combine to suggest a “frozen” counterpart to the intricacy of voices in a Baroque fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750).Interior of the Pilgrimage church of Vierzehnheiligen. Balthasar Neumann. Near Staffelstein, Germany, 1743 – 1772.
  • L’Indifferent L’Indifferent Watteau. C. 1716.• The most significant Rococo artist was Jean- Oil on canvas.Antoine Watteau. 10” x 7”.• To understand the change in style from FrenchAristocratic Baroque to Rococo, compare Rigaud’sPortrait of Louis XIV to Watteau’s L’Indifferent.• How are the two paintings similar or different?• Consider also the contrast in size and patronagefrom one era to the next (from primarily royalpatronage to primarily private aristocraticpatronage). Louis XIV Hyacinthe Rigaud. 1701. Oil on canvas. 9’2” x 6’3”.
  • Pilgrimage to Cythera. Pilgrimage to CytheraJean-Antoine Watteau. 1717. Oil on canvas. 4’3” x 6’4”. • In this painting, Watteau presents luxuriously costumed lovers who have made a “pilgrimage” to Cythera, the island of eternal youth and love, sacred to Aphrodite. • Watteau was largely responsible for creating a specific type of Rococo painting, called a fête galante (amorous festival) painting, which depicted the outdoor amusements of French high society. • This painting was Watteau’s submission for entry into the respectable French Royal Academy of Painting. Fête galante paintings were not yet a category, but, rather than reject his painting, the Academy made a special new category for it. • At the time, the Academy was split between following Poussin (who emphasized form instead of color or detail) or Rubens (who emphasized a coloristic approach). With the admission of Watteau (a Rubens follower), the Rubenistes won out, establishing the coloristic Rococo style as preferred. • Watteau strove to depict elegance and sweetness, by using soft, hazy lighting and subtly modeled shapes. • He captured slow movement from unusual angles, searching for the smoothest, most poised, and most refined attitudes. • The hazy color, gliding motions, and the air of suave gentility appealed to Watteau’s wealthy patrons.
  • Signboard of Gersaint Signboard of Gersaint. Watteau. C. 1721. Oil on canvas. 5’4” x 10’1” • A painting of Louis XIV is being lowered into a crate on the left. This may refer to the name of• Watteau’s life was cut short by tuberculosis, of which he died at 36. The the shop, Au Grand Monarche. It may also be afinal weeks of his life were spent at the house of Edme François Gersaint, a reminder of his death a few years prior.prominent art dealer with an art gallery in Paris. • Above the painting of Louis is a clock, on top of• During his final illness, Watteau painted this image as a signboard for which is a personification of Fame sheltering aGersaint’s shop. When hung, it proved so popular that it was sold shortly pair of lovers. This is a reminder that the passagethereafter. of time ravages fame and love.• This is a generic image of an art gallery, not a specific depiction of • The young woman gazing into a mirror on theWatteau’s shop. right represents vanity (vanitas), and the frailty of human life.• Of what class are the people in the shop?
  • Cupid a Captive Cupid a Captive François Boucher 1754. Oil on canvas.• After Watteau’s passing, François Boucher (1703-1770) rose to 5’6” x 2’10”prominence, in part because he was a favorite artist of MadamePompadour (a popular salon hostess and mistress to Louis XV).• Boucher was well known for his depictions of nymphs andgoddesses cavorting playfully in leafy Arcadian landscapes.• In this image, a pyramid of pink and ivory female and infant skin isset of against a cool, shady green background.• The soft pink and sky blue light seems to radiate off the pale fleshof the figures, which is both covered and revealed by the flutteringdraperies.• The dramatic crisscrossing diagonals, curvilinear forms, andtwisting of bodies are softened from the powerful drama of Baroquestyle to a lighthearted, sensual playfulness.• Although these scenes depict fictitious figures, they reflect thefavorite aristocratic enjoyment of leisurely frolics in nature.
  • Girl Reclining: Louise O’Murphy François Boucher. 1751. Girl Reclining Oil on canvas. 29” x 23”. • Boucher created many decorations for Versailles, as well as provided designs to major tapestry manufacturing companies. • In 1765, Boucher became First Painter to the King. In this role he painted several portraits of Louis XV, scenes from daily life, mythological pictures, and a series of erotic works often depicting the adventures of Venus. • One such picture is Girl Reclining: Louise O’Murphy, which shows the 18 year old O’Murphy stretched out nude on a couch. • With her clothing and pillows strewn around her, and a pink rose fallen to the floor, there is little doubt as to the erotic connotation. • In contrast to Watteau’s images of gods, goddesses, and putti frolic around in unreal settings, Boucher’s painting depicts a very real human in a real Parisian room. • Images such as this one, when hung on a wall, would usually have a small curtain affixed to the front, so that only men could view the works, and women would be shielded from their “improper” content.
  • The Swing The Swing Jean-Honoré Fragonard• Fragonard was a student of Boucher whose coloristic, decorative 1766. Oil on canvas.skill matched his masters. 2’8” x 2’2”• In this scene, a young aristocrat man has convinced an old bishopto swing the young man’s sweetheart higher and higher, while herlover (and the work’s patron), in the lower left, stretches out toadmire her from a strategic position on the ground.• The young woman flirtatiously kicks off one shoe towards a statueof Cupid, who puts his a finger to his lips.• The Watteau-like landscape is lush with leaves and swirlingbranches.• The warm tones of the young woman make her stand out againstthe cool greens and blues of the background.• The glowing soft light and the pastel colors convey the theme’ssensuality.• The setting resembles that of a stage scene for one of the popularcomic operas.
  • Apotheosis of Apotheosis of the Pisani Familythe PisaniFamily • Giambattista Tiepolo was a Venetian painter, who was trained inGiambattista the illusionistic style of Italian Baroque ceiling frescoes.Tiepolo. • He was well travelled, producing works in Austria, Germany,1762. Spain, and Italy.Ceiling fresco • Although trained in the Baroque ceiling style, he enjoyed thein the bright, cheerful colors and relaxed compositions of Rococo easelVilla Pisani,Stra, Italy. paintings, and strove to combine the two.77’1” x 44’3”. • In this huge ceiling fresco, Tiepolo depicted seemingly weightless figures fluttering through vast sunlit skies and fleecy clouds, their figures dark against the white clouds behind. • Tiepolo elevated the rank of the members of the Pisani family to those of gods in a light-hearted, heavenly scene.
  • Invention of the Invention of the BalloonBalloon. • By the last quarter of the 1700s, Rococo fell mainly out of style,Clodion. 1784. criticized for being frivolous and immoral.Terracotta modelfor a monument, • One artist who continued in the Rococo style until the Frenchheight 43”. Revolution was Claude Michel, known as Clodion, a sculptor who specialized in small, terracotta sculptures for tabletops. • This piece is one he made to win the commission for a monument commemorating the invention of the hot air balloon, which at the time were highly decorated with golden braids, tassels, and painted Rococo scenes. • Clodion’s balloon rises from a columnar launching pad in billowing clouds of smoke, heralded at the right by a trumpeting Victory. • Putti stoke the fire basket, providing the hot air to make the balloon ascend, while others gather reeds for fuel and fly up toward them.
  • Nymph and Satyr CarousingClodion. 1790. Terra-cotta. Nymph and Satyr Cavorting1’11” high. • Clodion also made sensual figure sculptures to be placed on tabletops in elegant Rococo salons. • In this sculpture, depicting two followers of Bacchus, a nymph rushes to pour wine into the mouth of a half-man, half-goat satyr. • How is this sculpture reminiscent of Mannerist sculptures (such as Saltcellar of Francis I by Cellini and Abduction of the Sabine Women by Giovanni da Bologna)? • In what ways does this sculpture fit into the style of Rococo?