Rococo (French rococo – artsy, bizarre from rocaille – rocky from roc – rock, cliff). Rococo is an original art style developed in the art of France in the first half of the 18th century. The same as the style of Louis XV, 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 basic forms is closely related to the concept of “rocaille”.
In 1736, the French jeweler and woodcarver J. Mondon “Son” published an album of engraved drawings entitled “The first book of the forms of rockail and cartel”. Cartel – French. cartelle by carte – card, paper scroll. But the word rocaille was then new. Back in the 17th century, it became fashionable in France to decorate park pavilions – grottoes stylized as natural caves, roughly processed with stones, molded shell-shaped decorations, intertwined plant stems associated with the theme of the sea and the attributes of the sea god Poseidon. These associations were strengthened by many fountains and ponds scattered in the regular parks of the times of Louis XIV. Gradually, the shape of the shell became the main decorative motif, which was called the word rocaille from roc – rock, stone, grotto. However, such a shell was significantly different from the ornamental motif of the Renaissance. It was transformed from strictly symmetrical, almost exactly copying the natural scallop shell, to a more dynamic, baroque one. By the beginning of the XVIII century, the shape of the shell was already recognized with difficulty – it is rather a bizarre curl with a double C-shaped curve. Therefore, the word “rocaille” begins to take on a broader meaning – a strange, bizarre shape, not only shells, but in general everything wriggling, pretentious, restless; abbreviated ironically – “rococo”. So the name of the new style was born.
In the main Rococo, the opposite of the entire preceding era. If the previous artistic styles took shape in architecture and only then spread in painting, sculpture, furniture, clothing, then Rococo, this original fruit of the ingenuity of the French genius, immediately emerged as a chamber style of aristocratic living rooms and boudoirs, interior decoration, decorative and applied art, and practically not found reflection in the architectural exterior. At the same time, being a chamber, intimate style, it went beyond the borders of France, and by its influence on the development of European art it can be put on a par only with Gothic.
Rococo is a combination of love of life and pessimism, joy and longing, a sense of novelty of forms and a hunch of the end. The main type of fine art is wall panels, plafonds and decorative compositions located above door or window openings – desyuporty (French. Dessus-de porte – above the door). The customer of paintings has changed. If the Catholic Church and the royal court were the main customers in the Baroque and the “Big Style” era, now the composition of art lovers and connoisseurs has been replenished with a new aristocracy and representatives of the “third estate”. Leading painters of the Rococo style: A. Watto, C. Gillo, N. Lancre, f. Boucher, O. Fragonard. Their paintings are mostly decorative and designed for a residential interior. Over time, a new genre of chamber-decorative painting appears – pastoral (French. Pastorate from Latin. Pastoralis – shepherd’s). But in the Rococo era, this is not just a rural, rural motif, but idyllic paintings of “shepherd’s” life with erotic connotations: shepherds and shepherdesses dressed in rich ballroom dresses, amid nature, in an atmosphere of complete freedom, peace, among the flowers are busy reading, playing reed pipes. Transparent hints, seduction scenes are the main themes of Rococo painting.
Rococo is one of the most “formal” styles, in it it is more important not “what”, but “how” is done by the artist, not what is depicted in each case, but how it is designed.
Along with the erotic subjects of Rococo painting, you can put many works of decorative art. Unfortunately, they almost did not reach our time and are known only from literary descriptions. For example, the legend told by the Goncourt brothers of the story of the creation of a “wonderful vase” for fruit, which once adorned the Small Trianon in Versailles, whose shape was cast in gold from the “incomparable chest of Marie Antoinette”.
Spiritual emptiness, emotional fatigue at the end of the Rococo era, which was a natural consequence of extreme stress. Sensuality, gave rise to sentimentalism, which, as if by inertia, passed into the next era of Enlightenment, from the point of view of ideology, completely opposite to Rococo.