Dictionary of Art and Artists



 

 


History of

Architecture and Sculpture

 
 

 

 
 

 
 

CONTENTS:

 
 

PART ONE
THE ANCIENT WORLD
PREHISTORIC ART
EGYPTIAN ART

ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN ART
AEGEAN ART
GREEK ART
ETRUSCAN ART
ROMAN ART
EARLY CHRISTIAN AND BYZANTINE ART

PART TWO
THE MIDDLE AGES
EARLY MEDIEVAL ART
ROMANESQUE ART
GOTHIC ART

PART THREE
THE RENAISSANCE THROUGH THE ROCOCO
LATE GOTHIC
THE EARLY RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
MANNERISM AND OTHER TRENDS
THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH
THE BAROQUE IN ITALY AND SPAIN
THE BAROQUE IN FLANDERS AND HOLLAND
THE BAROQUE
THE ROCOCO

PART FOUR
THE MODERN WORLD
NEOCLASSICISM AND ROMANTICISM
REALISM AND IMPRESSIONISM
POST-IMPRESSIONISM, SYMBOLISM, AND ART NOUVEAU

PART FIVE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY
TWENTIETH-CENTURY SCULPTURE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY ARCHITECTURE


INDEX
FIGURES
 

 
 

 
 

CHAPTER NINE
 

THE ROCOCO
 

ARCHITECTURE AND SCULPTURE - Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14
PAINTING

 


ARCHITECTURE AND SCULPTURE

 

Much as the Baroque is often considered the final phase of the Renaissance, so the Rococo has been treated as the end of the Baroque: a long twilight, delicious but decadent, that was cleaned away by the Enlightenment and Neoclassicism. In France, the Rococo is linked with Louis XV, to whose lifespan (1710-1774) it corresponds roughly in date. However, it cannot be identified with the absolutist state or the church any more than can the Baroque, even though these continued to provide the main patronage. Moreover, the essential characteristics of Rococo style were created before the king was born. Its first symptoms begin as much as 50 years earlier, during the lengthy transition that constitutes the Late Baroque. Nevertheless, the view of the Rococo as the final phase of the Baroque is not without basis: as the philosopher Francois-Marie Voltaire acknowledged, the eighteenth century lived in the debt of the past. In art, Poussin and Rubens cast their long shadows over the Rococo. The controversy between their partisans, in turn, goes back much further to the debate between the supporters of Michelangelo and of Titian over the merits of design versus color. In this sense, the Rococo, like the Baroque, still belongs to the Renaissance world.

To overemphasize the similarities and stylistic debt of the Rococo to the Baroque, however, risks ignoring a fundamental difference between them. What is it? In a word, it is fantasy. If the Baroque presents theater on a grand scale, the Rococo stage-is smaller, more intimate. At the same time, the Rococo is both more lighthearted and tender-minded, marked equally by playful whimsy and wistful nostalgia. Its artifice evokes an enchanted realm that presents a temporary diversion from real life. Because the modern age is the product of the Enlightenment that followed, it is still fashionable to denigrate the Rococo for its unabashed escapism and eroticism. To its credit, however, the Rococo discovered the world of love and broadened the range of human emotion in art to include, for the first time, the family as a major theme.
 



FRANCE


THE RISE OF THE ROCOCO.

After the death of Louis XIV, the centralized administrative machine that Colbert had created ground to a stop. The nobility, formerly attached to the court at Versailles, were now freer of royal surveillance. Many of them chose not to return to their ancestral chateaux in the provinces, but to live in Paris, where they built elegant town houses, known as hotels. As state-sponsored building activity was declining, the field of "design for private living" took on new importance. These city sites were usually cramped and irregular, so that they offered scant opportunity for impressive exteriors. Hence, the layout and decor of the rooms became the architects' main concern. The hotels demanded a style of interior decoration less grandiloquent and cumbersome than Lebrun's. They required instead an intimate, flexible style that would give greater scope to individual fancy uninhibited by classicistic dogma. French designers created the Rococo ("The Style of Louis XV," as it is often called in France) from Italian gardens and interiors to fulfill this need. The name fits well: it was coined as a caricature of coquillage and rocaille (echoing the Italian barocco), which meant the playful decoration of grottoes with irregular shells and stones.



The Decorative Arts

It was in the decorative arts that the Rococo flourished first and ioremost. We have not considered the decorative arts until now, because the conservative nature of the crafts permitted only limited creativity except to a few individuals of outstanding ability. But the latter half of the seventeenth century ushered in a period of unprecedented change in French design. A central role was played by Colbert, who in the 1660s acquired the Gobelins (named after the brothers who founded them) for the crown and turned them into royal works supplying luxurious furnishings, including tapestries, to the court under the direction of the king's chief artistic adviser, Charles Lebrun.

After 1688 the War of the League of Augsburg forced major economies on the crown, including reductions at the Gobelins that gradually loosened central control of the decorative arts and opened the way to new stylistic developments. Thus the situation paralleled the decline of the Academy's tyrannical influence over the fine arts, which gave rise to the Rococo in painting.

This does not explain the excellence of French decor, however. Critical to its development was the importance assigned to designers: their engravings established new standards of design that were expected to be followed by artisans, who thereby lost much of their independence. Let us note, too, the collaboration of architects, who became increasingly involved in the decoration of the rooms they designed. Together with sculptors, who often designed the ornamentation, they helped to elevate the decorative arts virtually to the level of the fine arts, thus establishing a tradition that continued into modern times. The decorative and fine arts intersected most clearly in major furniture. French cabinetmakers known as ebenistes (after ebony, their preferred wood veneer) helped to bring about the revolution in interior decor by introducing new materials and techniques. Many of these upstarts hailed originally from Holland, Flanders, Germany, and even Italy.

The decorative arts played a unique role during the Rococo. Hotel interiors were more than assemblages of objects. They were total environments put together with fastidious care by discerning collectors and the talented architects, sculptors, decorators, and dealers who catered to their taste. A room, like a single item of furniture, could involve the services of a wide variety of artisanscabinetmakers, wood carvers, gold- and silversmiths, upholsterers, porcelain makersall dedicated to producing the ensemble, even though each craft was, by tradition, a separate specialty subject to strict regulations. Together they fueled the insatiable hunger for novelty that swept Europe.




PINEAU.

Virtually none of these rooms has survived intact. Like the furniture they housed, most have been destroyed, heavily altered, or dispersed. We can nevertheless get a good idea of their appearance by the reconstruction of one such room from the Hotel de Varengeville, Paris, designed about 1735 by Nicolas Pineau (1684-1754) for the Duchesse de Villars (fig. 829). The sumptuous effect bears out the suggestion that the Rococo interior originated to provide a fit setting for women, who became the center of aristocratic society. The walls and ceiling are encrusted with ornamentation, and the elaborately carved furniture is adorned with gilt bronze. Everything swims in a sea of swirling patterns united by the most sophisticated sense of design and materials the world has ever known. Here there is no clear distinction between decoration and function, for example in the clock on the mantel and the statuette in the corner of our illustration. Note, too, how the paintings have been thoroughly integrated into the room.
 


Nicolas Pineau


Nicolas Pineau, (born Oct. 8, 1684, Paris—died April 24, 1754, Paris), French wood-carver and interior designer, a leader in the development of interior decorating in the light, asymmetric, lavishly decorated Rococo style.

After study with the architects François Mansart and Germain Boffrand, Pineau followed his father’s trade. His son, Dominique (1718–86), also became a wood sculptor.

One of a group of French artisans who were visiting the newly established city of St. Petersburg in 1716 at the invitation of Peter the Great, Pineau remained in Russia until about 1728, carving the tsar’s cabinet in the Peterhof palace and also serving as an architect and interior designer. Returning to Paris, he became an important designer, launching the vogue for Rococo rooms in private dwellings.

Pineau’s works are characterized by shallow recesses with rounded corners and ornamentation employing shell motifs, leafy scrolls, and classical busts in medallions. Later interior designers and architects were influenced by his engravings.






829. Nicolas Pineau.
Room from the Hotel de Varengeville, Paris.

ń
. 1735.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

 

 



Clodion Claude Michel.


Because so much of it was done to adorn interiors, French Rococo sculpture generally took the form of small groups in a "miniature Baroque" style, which were designed to be viewed at close range. A typical example is Satyr and Bacchante (fig.
830) by Claude Michel (1738-1814), known as Clodion. Its coquettish eroticism is a playful echo of the ecstasies of Bernini, whose work he studied during a nine-year stay in Italy (compare fig. 768). Despite the fact that he undertook several
large decorative cycles, Clodion was by nature a modeler who was at his best working on a small scale. Able to work miracles with terracotta, he reigned supreme in this intimate realm.


830. Clodion Claude Michel. Satyr and Bacchante.
ń
. 1775. Terracotta, height 59 cm.
The Metropolitan
Museum of Art, New York


 


830. Clodion Claude Michel. Satyr and Bacchante.
ń
. 1775. Terracotta, height 59 cm.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 

 


Clodion

Clodion, original name Claude Michel (born Dec. 20, 1738, Nancy, France—died March 29, 1814, Paris), French sculptor whose works represent the quintessence of the Rococo style.

In 1755 Clodion went to Paris and entered the workshop of Lambert-Sigisbert Adam, his uncle. On his uncle’s death, he became a pupil of J.B. Pigalle. In 1759 he won the grand prize for sculpture at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, and in 1762 he went to Rome. Catherine II was eager for him to come to St. Petersburg, but he returned to Paris in 1771. There he was successful and frequently exhibited at the Salon.

Clodion worked mostly in terra-cotta, his preferred subject matter being nymphs, satyrs, bacchantes, and other Classical figures sensually portrayed. He was also, with his brothers, a decorator of such objects as candelabra, clocks, and vases. Perhaps because of his apparent unwillingness to be seriously monumental, he was never admitted to the Royal Academy. Nevertheless, after the Revolution had driven him in 1792 to Nancy, where he lived until 1798, he was flexible enough to adapt himself to Neoclassical monumentality—the relief on the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, representing the entry of the French into Munich, is an example.

Encyclopædia Britannica
 

 





Clodion Claude Michel. La Gimblette




Clodion Claude Michel. Satyr Crowning a Bacchante




Clodion Claude Michel. Minerva




Clodion Claude Michel. Allégorie du Jour




Clodion Claude Michel. Reclining Nymph


 


Clodion Claude Michel.
Bacchante Supported by Bacchus and a Faun, 1795

 


Clodion Claude Michel. Faune pleurant

 


Clodion Claude Michel. Motif mitologique

 


Clodion Claude Michel. Poetry and Music

 


Clodion Claude Michel. Silenus Crowned by Nymphs

 


Clodion Claude Michel. Pair of Bacchic Figures with a Child

 


Clodion Claude Michel. River God

 


Clodion Claude Michel. Amor and Psyche

 


Clodion Claude Michel. Female Satyr with Putti

 
 

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