Rococo Art and Architecture

rococo (in architecture)

rococo (rəkō´kō, rō–), style in architecture, especially in interiors and the decorative arts, which originated in France and was widely used in Europe in the 18th cent. The term may be derived from the French words rocaille and coquille (rock and shell), natural forms prominent in the Italian baroque decorations of interiors and gardens. The first expression of the rococo was the transitional régence style. In contrast with the heavy baroque plasticity and grandiloquence, the rococo was an art of exquisite refinement and linearity. Through their engravings, Juste Aurèle Meissonier and Nicholas Pineau helped spread the style throughout Europe. The Parisian tapestry weavers, cabinetmakers, and bronze workers followed the trend and arranged motifs such as arabesque elements, shells, scrolls, branches of leaves, flowers, and bamboo stems into ingenious and engaging compositions. The fashionable enthusiasm for Chinese art added to the style the whole bizarre vocabulary of chinoiserie motifs. In France, major exponents of the rococo were the painters Watteau, Boucher, and Fragonard and the architects Robert de Cotte, Gilles Marie Oppenord, and later Jacques Ange Gabriel. The rococo vogue spread to Germany and Austria, where François de Cuvilliès was the pioneer. Italian rococo, particularly that of Venice, was brilliantly decorative, exemplified in the paintings of Tiepolo. The furniture of Thomas Chippendale manifested its influence in England. During the 1660s and 1670s, the rococo competed with a more severely classical form of architecture, which triumphed with the accession of Louis XVI.

See F. Kimball, The Creation of the Rococo (1943); A. Schönberger and H. Soehner, The Rococo Age (tr. 1960); H. A. Millon, Baroque and Rococo Architecture (1961); G. Bazin, Baroque and Rococco (tr. 1964); H. Hitchcock, German Rococco (1970).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Creation of the Rococo
Fiske Kimball.
W. W. Norton, 1964
The Social History of Art
Arnold Hauser.
Routledge, vol.3, 1999
The Rococo Age: Art and Civilization of the 18th Century
Arno Schönberger; Halldor Soehner.
McGraw-Hill, 1960
Italian Baroque and Rococo Architecture
John Varriano.
Oxford University Press, 1986
The Loom of Art
Germain Bazin; Jonathan Griffin.
Simon and Schuster, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VIII "Enchantment - Baroque and Rococo"
Architecture through the Ages
Talbot Hamlin.
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1940
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 24 "The Rococo in Germany and England"
Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History, and Meaning
Leland M. Roth.
Westview Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 17 "Baroque and Rococo Architecture"
A Concise History of Painting: From Giotto to Cézanne
Michael Levey.
Frederick A. Praeger, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "From the Rococo to Goya"
The Rule of Taste from George I to George IV
John Steegmann.
Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1936
Librarian’s tip: Chap. III "Chinese and Rococo"
A Cupid's Head with Wings
Parkhill-Rathbone, James.
Contemporary Review, Vol. 263, No. 1531, August 1993
Praeger Picture Encyclopedia of Art: A Comprehensive Survey of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture and Crafts, Their Methods, Styles and Technical Terms, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day
Frederick A Praeger.
F.A. Praeger, 1958
Librarian’s tip: "Baroque and Rococo" begins on p. 318
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists
Ian Chilvers.
Oxford University Press, 1996 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Rococo begins on p. 452
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