somber style. Madame du Barry’s rejection of rococo marked its declineamong the French.
Not commonly used until the 1830s, the term “rococo” denoted contempt for anything that seemed dated, mannered, or outmoded. Derived from the word “rocaille,” a kind of ornamental and colorful pebbleor shellwork used in gardens, fountains and grottos, today it is a neutralterm designating an artistic movement that thrived in the mid-1700s.Like most artistic trends, it was a reaction against the artwork that preceded it. During the reign of Louis XIV, baroque depicted moral lessonswith allusions to classical antiquity in a style that emphasized ceremonial ostentation. Rococo naturally rejected the pompous and autocraticpropaganda of baroque in favor of a freer expression of sensuality, love,and eroticism.
In its rebellion against the formal conventions of the past, rococo’saesthetic expressed novelty and innovation through a rich visual vocabulary of flower garlands, lush thatches of vegetation, irregular shell-like shapes, and arabesque scrollwork. Their technique favored asymmetrical compositions, the dissolution of sharp contours through loose
Lúcio Carvalho, Essence of Dominique (left), A Breath of Fresh Air (right), 2018,oil, courtesy of Chic Evolution in Art