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Rococo emerged after the decline of the Baroque period:

Rococo refers to the art of the early 18 th century that came after the Baroque. The word 'rococo' is derived from the French word 'rocaille' that refers decorative art work that resembles rocks or stones. At first 'rococo' was the term applied to a technique of stucco plaster, which was used widely in Italy and then all of Europe to decorate internal and external architecture. This rough stucco plaster was used in France as an aesthetic reaction to the artificially formal, very polished grandeur that characterized French construction and design during the reign of King Louie 14 th . The plaster was a dull yellow-gold color and has a very rough consistency, making it appear stone-like in texture.

Scaling down with Rococo:

The turning point between the Baroque period and the subsequent Rococo period is difficult to define and specific dates are argued about among art historians. The Rococo style basically continued those innovations and stylistic tendencies that had come about with the Renaissance and then the Baroque, but the differences are still very acute. Smaller proportions, asymmetrical alignment and a less formalistic style are all evident. The enormous proportions of the Baroque are set aside, the long, curving lines- the classic Baroque tendency to give every piece a sense of ebb and flow- are replaced with miniature, well-defined compartments. Gardens became both smaller in size and more complex in construction; the open expanses of the former century in Italy were translated into intimate alcoves and rigidly controlled pathways that didn't allow those strolling in the garden to veer from it in the slightest.

The era of silly frivolity:

The revolutionary humanistic philosophies of the Renaissance and the earth-shattering new Science of the Baroque make the Rococo style seem frivolous and light-hearted in comparison. Serious themes are set side by side with purely decorative embellishments; there are endless curlicues and scalloped edges to every design, dancing monkeys, flower and leaf motifs, pretty patterns and idyllic scenes of shepherdesses and shepherds. The moral rigidity, the religious fervor that hallmarked the former century was now replaced with the blithe sophistication of the very wealthy. In Rococo art all the mediums are combined and added to again and again in sheer love of excess; the style is rich in textures and qualities. Every element of art was given equal importance, all the mediums combined into larger cohesive units. >From the grand expanses of the architectural and garden designs, to the wall dressings and floors, to the art work and the frames holding up the art work, the sculptures and furniture- all was designed in abundance, one medium marrying into the other, gilded with gold and draped in rich fabric.

Rococo in France :

Francois Bouche is considered the founding father of the French Rococo and he began his artistic education in 1727. He is characterized by the use of soft pastel colors, all light and airy, but none of the other indicative qualities and proportions of the 'Grandiose' style. By the time he became a court artist his themes were typically taken from Greek mythology, with a rich array of lushly naked women posing erotically. Bouche's use of color is usually artificial and highly polished and that is the overall impression one gets from most of his work. Another famous Rococo artist is Jean-Honore Fragonard, whose paintings and designs in France became a Rococo signature. Like Bouche, Fragonard was also influenced by the Italian painter Tiepolo and he painted themes of silly frivolity, though his technique is distinctly his own- his paintings are usually a wealth of pink and rose shades, erotically posing figures and thriving exuberance, but they are not depicted in Bouche's polished veneer. Rather, the paintings are left rough in texture; the brushstrokes are not meticulous but instead expressive and spontaneous. And there is also another new element that Bouche's serious nature lacked; that of a satirical slant to the scene and a bourgeoning sense of humor on the artists part. Other famous artists of this style are Nicholas Pineau, Juste Aurele Meissonier, Egidius Quirinus Asam, the brothers Zimmerman, Nicolas de Largilliere, Jean-Marc Nattier, Francois Drouais, Maurice-Quentin de La Tour, Ettien-Maurice Falconet and Claude Michel [known as 'Clodion'].

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