Portrait of Boucher. 1741. Oil on canvas. Reunion de Musées Nationaux, France.

Portrait of François Boucher 1741

 

The Rococo period flourished during the reign of king Louis XV of France.  It was also closely associated with the king’s mistress, Madame Le Pompadour.

Rococo is an extension off the Baroque Period.  This period celebrates gaiety, romance, and the frivolity of the grand life at court.  The art style was light-hearted, commonly seen with the use of gold and pastel colors. The Rococo style of art was criticized as being frivolous and indecent.

After the death of Louis XV, and even more after the French Revolution, the Rococo was replaced by the more sober and serious Neo-Classical style in both art and architecture under Napoleon III.

The Rococo style was heavily connected with aristocratic culture, where the French aristocracy was lifted up and admired.  In the upper class salons, men and women shared tastes and wealthy women played a prominent role as buyers of art. To the critics, it seemed as if French culture was controlled by women, and promoted towards a feminine frame of mind.

3 Masters of Rococo style:

1.  Jean Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) invented a style that depicts members of the nobility in elegant contemporary dress enjoying leisure time in the countryside.

Jean-Antoine Watteau, better known as Antoine Watteau, was a French painter whose brief career spurred the change of Baroque style, shifting it to the less severe, more naturalistic, classical Rococo.

Watteau was known to have a theatrical air about his paintings. Many of his best known subjects were drawn from the world of Italian comedy and ballet. Watteau’s influence on the arts (costume, film, poetry, music) was more extensive than that of almost any other 18th-century artist.  He was the foremost well known Rococo artist of his time.

Sadly, Watteau died young.  He had been physically fragile since childhood that when he traveled to London in 1720, to consult with a doctor, London’s damp and smoky air made him worse.  The benefits of a new healthy food regime and medicines he was taking for his sickness progressed his health for the worse. Watteau returned to France and spent his last few months on the estate of his patron, Abbé Haranger, where he died in 1721 from tuberculous laryngitis at the young age of 36. During his final days, he was said to be painting imaginary paintings in the air. His nephew, Louis Joseph Watteau, and grand nephew, François-Louis-Joseph Watteau, followed Antoine into painting.

2. François Boucher (1703-70) Boucher, more than any other artist, exemplified French taste during the Age of Enlightenment, and under the patronage of Madame de Pompadour his career flourished. By the end of Louis XV’s reign, the mildly erotic images had lost their appeal, and the artist never regained his former popularity.

François Boucher was born in the autumn of 1703, into the family of a modest painter and designer, Nicolas. From his father Boucher received a broad artistic training and education, however soon realized that his son would need the supervision of a more skilled artist to fully master his talents. In 1720, when Boucher turned seventeen, he entered the studio of François Lemoyne, to be a lead promoter of the Rococo genre. Bouche was mostly taught by Francois Lemoyne but was also influenced by Watteau many of whose works he engraved. Bouche won Grand-Prix when he was 20 years old and then he had been taught in Italy since 1727 till 1731. By his return Bouche became one of the most trendy artists and teacher and favorite of Madame Pompadour.

3. Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) Jean-Honoré Fragonard was a talented Frenchman who painted in the late Rococo style; one that is decorative and ornate.  He was promoted by Madame Pompadour and reflects a rococo styled influence.

Fragonard has been regarded as one of the most poetic painters of the 18th century in France. He produced more than 550 paintings, several thousand drawings, and 35 etchings.  He continued to paint in a Rococo expression until shortly before the French Revolution.

 

Antoine Watteau The Drawings

Antoine Watteau: The Drawings – Book Amazon

Antoine Watteau (1684–1721) produced some of the most seductive drawings in Western art. This book, published to accompany an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, reproduces his finest examples, revealing the delicacy and freedom of execution that so impressed early commentators and had such a profound effect on subsequent generations of artists, notably François Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard.  Well-known art historians Pierre Rosenberg and Louis-Antoine Prat examine these masterly studies, focusing on the artist’s development as a draftsman, the techniques that he perfected, and the fascinating role that drawing played in his work. The illustrations, which include recently discovered works, are superbly reproduced.

Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721), Woman Lying on a Sofa, c . 1717–18,

Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721), Woman Lying on a Sofa, c . 1717–18

Seated Woman Looking Down, Oil by Jean Antoine Watteau (1684-1721, France)

Seated Woman Looking Down, Oil by Jean Antoine Watteau (1684-1721, France)

Antoine Watteau, Standing Woman Holding a Fan, about 1719.

Antoine Watteau, Standing Woman Holding a Fan, about 1719

 

Jean-Honoré Fragonard - The Party Cook

Jean-Honoré Fragonard – The Party Cook

Seated Man Reading - Jean-Honore Fragonard

Seated Man Reading – Jean-Honore Fragonard

Jean Antoine Watteau - Study of a Standing Dancer with an Outstretched Arm

Jean Antoine Watteau – Study of a Standing Dancer with an Outstretched Arm

Watteau and His World French Drawings from 1700 to 1750

Watteau and His World: French Drawings from 1700 to 1750 Buy it on Amazon from $15

Woman In An Armchair- François Boucher

Woman In An Armchair-  François Boucher

The Drawings of Francois Boucher

The Drawings of Francois Boucher $9 On Amazon

1750 François Boucher, Madame de Pompadour

 François Boucher, Madame de Pompadour 1750

Jean-Honoré Fragonard - Girl Playing with a Dog

Jean-Honoré Fragonard – Girl Playing with a Dog

François Boucher - Painting Sold At Sotherbys

François Boucher- A Painting Sold Through Sothebys

Boy Holding a Parsnip. François Boucher

Boy Holding a Parsnip. François Boucher 1738. Pastel. 39.6 x 24.1 cm.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

A Young Scholar - Jean-Honore Fragonard

A Young Scholar – Jean-Honore Fragonard

The Letter - Jean-Honore Fragonard

The Letter – Jean-Honore Fragonard

Jean-Honoré Fragonard The Reader, ca.1770-72

Jean-Honoré Fragonard: The Reader, ca.1770-72

Self Portrait- Jean-Honore FragonardSelf Portrait- Jean-Honore Fragonard

François Boucher. Louis Philippe Joseph, duc de Montpensier. c.1750. Waddesdon Manor, The Rothschield Collection, Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire, UK.

François Boucher. Louis Philippe Joseph, duc de Montpensier. c.1750. Waddesdon Manor, The Rothschield Collection, Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire, UK.

Save