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Definition: rococo from Philip's Encyclopedia

Playful, light style of art, architecture and decoration that developed in early 18th-century France. It soon spread to Germany, Austria, Italy, and Britain. Rococo brought swirls, scrolls, shells, and arabesques to interior decoration. It was also applied to furniture, porcelain, and silverware.


Summary Article: rococo from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Movement in the arts and architecture in 18th-century Europe, particularly in France, that tended towards lightness, elegance, delicacy, and decorative charm. The term ‘rococo’ is derived from the French rocaille (rock- or shell-work), a soft style of interior decoration, based on S-curves and scroll-like forms, that developed as a reaction against the formal, heavy atmosphere of Louis XIV's court. Painting developed its own rococo style, as in the work of Jean-Antoine Watteau and François Boucher. Sèvres porcelain also belongs to the French rococo fashion. In the 1730s the movement became widespread in Europe, notably in the churches and palaces of southern Germany and Austria. Chippendale furniture is an English example of the French rococo style.

Other rococo features include the use of fantastic ornament and pretty, naturalistic details. The architectural and interior design of the Amalienburg pavilion at Nymphenburg near Munich, Germany, and the Hôtel de Soubise pavilion in Paris are typical of the movement. The painters Jean Honoré Fragonard and Boucher both created typically decorative rococo panels for Parisian hôtels (town houses).

In the second half of the 18th century, rococo style gave way to neoclassicism.

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Neumann, Johann Balthasar

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Fragonard, Jean-Honoré The Bathers

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