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What Is Rococo Architecture?

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  • Written By: Debra Barnhart
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
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  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2016
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Rococo architecture developed around 1700 in France and is generally considered by art historians to be part of late Baroque style. After the death of Louis XIV, Rococo style progressed as aristocratic power moved away from the Palace of Versailles. Rococo architectural style is sometimes viewed as feminine, and it dominated interior architecture. The style eventually spread from France to other parts of Europe.

Art historians often consider Rococo architecture to be an outgrowth of Baroque style architecture. The Baroque style developed around 1600 and lasted until about 1750. Compared to Renaissance art, Baroque style is seen by art historians as being more lively, dramatic, emotional and ornate. The best-known example of Baroque architecture is the façade of St. Peter’s basilica in Rome, completed around 1612. When Rococo architecture developed in France, it encompassed many of the elements of Baroque style, but it was more complicated, contrived and over-the-top.

Louis XIV died in 1715. After his death, aristocrats moved away from the court to the townhouses and hotels of Paris. The Rococo style of architecture developed at around this time as aristocrats moved to new homes that they had built and decorated to reflect the current taste.

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Some art historians view Rococo style as being feminine, which may be an accurate assessment. Women such as Catherine in Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria were powerful at the time. In smaller courts women also had power, and the salon was often the focal point of society in Paris during the 18th century.

Rococo style was reflected mostly in a building’s interior architecture. The exterior architecture of a Rococo building might be relatively plain, but the interior had frilly elements and complex curved lines. Decorative, gilded molding might have carved flowers, birds, garlands and angels highlighted in gold. The Salon de la Princesse at the Hôtel de Soubise in Paris is a fine example of Rococo style. The walls, windows and part of the ceiling of this room are completely covered by elaborate molding.

Eventually, Rococo architecture spread to Germany and Austria. The Amalienburg, a Rococo style building in Munich, Germany, was completed in 1739. Both the exterior and interior architecture reflect the Rococo style. The façade of the building has delicate carvings above the windows and the door as well as on the roof. Inside, the Hall of Mirrors, as its name implies, uses mirrors to reflect light and the exquisite lines of the ornamental molding.

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wavy58
Post 1

Rococo architecture sounds beautiful! I bet only the wealthy could have afforded it, though. I doubt too many ordinary homes were designed in this manner.

I remember a little about it from my art history class. I loved the ornate molding near the ceilings in those buildings pictured in my textbook.

The word “rococo” just sounds so stylish and elitist. I would love to have molding and arches in this style in my own home, but I imagine whoever has the ability to do it would charge a fortune.

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