Rococo, Neoclassical and Romantic Art

Report
Rococo, Neoclassical and
Romantic Art
Cynthia Noble
KEY CONCEPTS: Rococo, Neoclassical and Romantic Historical correspondences: 18th and early
19th-centuries, Enlightenment and Age of Revolutions, Napoleonic Age
In the eighteenth century, the Enlightenment had a great impact on art and culture. Wealth and
power were redistributed into the hands of the middle class due to industrial manufacture. The
exchange of power and wealth meant that patronage expanded, and the art that the new types
of patrons commissioned reflected the optimistic and reform-oriented values.
Rococo was a reaction against the formality and drama of the seventeenth-century Baroque
style, popular with the Counter-Reformation Catholic Church and monarchies. Rococo is
devoted solely to pleasure and is marked by a light-hearted mood that is created through pastel
colors, delicately curving forms, dainty figures and playful subject matter.
Neoclassical art, with its more sober mood and moralizing tone, was a reaction to Rococo.
Neoclassical art is typified by a strong color palette, references to Ancient Greece and Rome
and/or the Renaissance, and serious subject matter that addressed the Age of Revolutions.
Romanticism is an early nineteenth-century reaction against Neoclassicism, both in the way it
looks (form) and also in its themes and subject matter (content).
Instead of optimism about the human condition and the power of rational thought and high
standards, the Romantics emphasized the tragedy of existence and the restless yearning that
results. Common Romantic subject matter includes heroism, love and death, extreme emotion,
religious ecstasy, ghosts and the occult, the weird and fantastic, dreams, intoxication and
wonder and absolute freedom and the exotic. Romantic art is often marked by intense colors, a
very painterly approach and complex compositions.
Rococo, Neoclassical and Romantic Images
Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Charles Le Brun. Hall of Mirrors, Palais de Versailles,
begun 1678
Germain Boffrand. Salon de la Princesse, Hotel de Subise, Paris, France, begun 1732
Jean Antoine-Watteau. Le Pelerinage a L’Ile de Cithere. 1717
Jean-Honore Fragonard. The Meeting, from the Loves of the Shepherds, 1771-73
Francois Boucher. Diana Resting After Her Bath, 1742
Angelica Kauffmann. Cornelia Pointing to Her Children as Her Treasures, c. 1785
Boucher/Kauffmann comparison
Marie-Louise-Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun. Portrait of Marie Antoinette with Her Children,
1787
Jacques-Louis David. Oath of the Horatii, 1784-85
Francisco Goya. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, no. 43 from Los Caprichos,
1786-98
Eugene Delacroix. Liberty Leading the People, 1830
Jacques-Louis David. Napoleon Crossing the Saint-Bernard, 1800-01
Antoine-Jean Gros. Napoleon in the Plague House at Jaffa, 1804
Joseph Mallord William Turner. Snowstorm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps,
1812
ASSIGNMENT
How do the Rococo, Neoclassical and Romantic styles appear in our contemporary
visual culture (art, architecture, design, fashion, advertising, etc.)? Choose an example
for each of the three styles from contemporary visual culture and describe why you
think it pertains to that style. The paper should be 3-4 pages, and It is best to include
the images.

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