Rococo (French rococo – fanciful, quaint from rocaille – rocky from roc – rock, cliff). Rococo – the original art style, developed in the art of France, the first half of the XVIII century. Same as Louis XV style, since it coincides with the time of the reign of this king (1720-1765). Rococo is one of the most famous “royal styles”. The origin of its name and main forms is closely related to the concept of “rokail”.
In 1736, the French jeweler and woodcarver J. Mondon “Son” published an album of engraved drawings entitled “The First Book of the Forms of Rokaille and Cartelles”. Cartel – French cartelle from carte – map, scroll paper. But the word “rocaille” was then new. As early as the 17th century in France, it became fashionable to decorate park pavilions — grottoes stylized as natural caves, roughly treated stones, stucco moldings in the form of shells, intertwining plant stems associated with the theme of the sea and the attributes of the sea god Poseidon. These associations were intensified by many fountains and ponds scattered throughout the regular parks of the times of Louis XIV. Gradually, the shell shape became the main decorative motif, which was called rocaille from roc – rock, stone, grotto. However, such a shell was significantly different from the ornamental motif of the Renaissance. It transformed from a strictly symmetrical, almost exactly replicating the natural scallop shell, to a more dynamic, baroque. By the beginning of the XVIII century, the shape of the shell is already recognized with difficulty – rather, it is a fancy curl with a double C-shaped bend. Therefore, the word “rocaille” begins to acquire a wider meaning – a strange, bizarre form, not only shells, but in general everything that is wriggling, elaborate, restless; abbreviated ironically – “Rococo”. So the name of the new style was born.
In the main, Rococo is the opposite of the entire previous era. If previous art styles evolved in architecture and only then spread in painting, sculpture, furniture, clothes, Rococo, this original fruit of the ingenuity of the French genius, immediately arose as the chamber style of aristocratic living rooms and boudoirs, interior design, decorative and applied art and practically not reflected in the architectural exterior. At the same time, being a chamber, intimate style, he went beyond the borders of France, and according to his influence on the development of European art, it can be put on a par with only Gothic.
Rococo is a combination of joie de vivre and pessimism, joy and longing, a sense of novelty of form and a premonition of the end. The main type of visual art is wall panels, ceiling lamps and decorative compositions located above door or window openings – desdeportes (French dessus-de porte – above the door). Changed customer pictures. If in the era of the Baroque and the “Big Style” the main customers were the Catholic Church and the royal court, now the composition of art lovers and connoisseurs is replenished with new aristocracy and representatives of the “third class”. Leading painters of the Rococo style: A. Watteau, C. Gillot, N. Lankre, f. Boucher, O. Fragonard. Their paintings are mostly decorative and designed for residential interior. Over time, a new genre of chamber-decorative painting appears – pastoral (French pastorate from Latin pastoralis – shepherd). But in the Rococo era it is not just a rustic, rural motif, but idyllic pictures of “shepherd’s” life with erotic overtones: shepherds and shepherds dressed in rich ballroom dresses, against the backdrop of nature, in an atmosphere of complete freedom, peace, among the flowers are busy reading, playing flute. Transparent hints, scenes of seduction – the main themes of painting Rococo.
Rococo is one of the most “formal” styles, it’s more important than “what”, but “how” is done by the artist, not what is depicted in each particular case, but how it is decorated.
In the same row with the erotic scenes of painting Rococo, you can put many works of decorative art. Unfortunately, they almost did not reach our time and are known only by literary descriptions. For example, the legend about the history of the creation of a “wonderful vase” for fruit, which once decorated the Little Trianon at Versailles, retold by the Brothers Goncours, whose form was supposedly made of gold from the “incomparable chest of Marie Antoinette”.
Spiritual emptiness, emotional fatigue at sunset of the Rococo era, which was a natural consequence of extreme stress. Sensuality, gave rise to sentimentalism, which, as it were, out of inertia, passed into the Next Age of Enlightenment, from the point of view of ideology, quite the opposite of Rococo.