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Spirit of the Rococo Style

The spirit of Rococo style found its most characteristic expression in the decorative rather than the fine arts. This paper will define the spirit of the Age (1720-1760) and discuss this assertion.

The term "Rococo" refers to a style which is asymmetrical and makes extensive use of "sinuous S- and C-shaped curves."1 Rococo developed out of the earlier Baroque style, which also made use of curved shapes but was more symmetrical and far less elaborate than Rococo. Rococo works are highly ornamental and are typically embellished with fanciful shapes. The word "rococo" derives from rocaille, which "was originally used to refer to the tortuous rockwork fabricated for artificial caves or grottoes."2 Motifs such as shells, spirals, leaves, branches and flowers are commonly found in Rococo pieces. As such, although .Rococo uses fantastic forms, such works have an organic quality about them, and are often reflective of nature, albeit in a stylized manner. The term "Rococo" was meant to be derogatory when it first came into use, and it implied a certain gaudiness and superficiality of detail. However, this connotation is overly restrictive and fails to account for the exquisite beauty and high aesthetic value of most Rococo works.

The Rococo style reached its zenith in 18th century France, but it actually took its inspiration from Italian art of the late Baroque period. The French artist Juste-Aurele Meissonier (16951750) is credited as having been the "inventor" of Rococo.3 His work was extremely popular and was copied by many of his contemporaries, one of whom noted that "'Meissonier began to destroy all the straight lines that were of the old usage . . . he invented contrasts, that is to say he banished symmetry.'"4 In a sense, Meissonier's work led to a relaxing of the rules which previously governed artistic creation, and as such gave the artists and designers of the time a sense of greater freedom of expression than the...

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Spirit of the Rococo Style. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:42, May 24, 2020, from