Rococo and Neoclassicism

In Rococo, the sublimity of the Baroque gives way to a more relaxed style of almost whimsical ease. Sentiment and emotion prevail over reason. Yet the “fetes galantes” and pastoral idyll, the sophisticated elegance and amorous trysts are often little more than theatrical settings, serenely elegiac dreams behind which there lurks an awareness of paradise lost. The centres of Rococo painting were Paris, Venice and London. In the Parisian art world, “gallant” scenes by Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard predominated, along with the delicate still lifes and genre paintings of Chardin. In Venice, we find the magnificent cityscapes and veduta of Canaletto and Guardi, along with Tiepolo’ brilliantly illuminated ceiling frescos. London society celebrated portraits of stature such as Hogarth, Gainsborough and Renolds, while in Southern Germany and Austria, pious images of celestial serenity spanned the church ceilings created by Asam and Zimmermann, Troger and Maulbertsch.

In stark contrast to Rococo stands the crisp, cool Neoclassicism of David, while in Spain, Goay’s work plumbs the very depths of human existence, heralding the dawn of a new era.