Baroque and Rococo


Baroque and Rococo Art Map



Interior Decoration

Widely used in sculpture, wood and stucco now took on an important role in interior decoration. The Rococo style was particularly recognizable where decorative themes were inspired by natural forms. Sinuous flowing lines transformed rocks, birds, and flowers into sheer fantasy. These characteristics clearly distinguish the Rococo style from that of the Baroque, in which ornamental motifs tended to be expressed with greater symmetry. The most refined and elaborate examples of Rococo decoration were to be found in the designs of Francois de Cuvillies (1695-1768). Flemish by birth but French by education. Cuvillies went to Munich in 1725, where he was appointed Court Architect to the Elector of Bavaria. He was a talented designer of large, elegant buildings and his most ambitious work is reflected in his splendid designs for interiors. Both the Amalienburg hunting lodge in the park at Nymphenburg Palace and the lodge near Bruhl Castle illustrate Cuvillies' dazzling, lively interiors, in which he fused to perfection architecture, decoration, and furnishings. His extensive use of stucco and lacquer added to their splendour.


Johann Michael Fischer interior of the Church of the Benedictines at Zwiefalten,
Wurttemberg, 1738-65.
The decoration is by Johann Michael Feichtmayr (c. 1709-72)


Detail of the state apartment (reiche Zimmer) of the Hesidenz in Munich.
Francois de Cuvillies was responsible for the decoration of these rooms in the residence of the Electors,
later Kings, of Bavaria.
He collaborated with other famous artists at Court.




Founded in 1667. La Manufacture des Meubles de la Couronne, known as the Gobelins factory, faithfully reproduced impressive scenes by various well-known painters in the form of large tapestries that glorified the reign of Louis XIV. Charles Le Brun's allegorical subjects celebrated the munificence of Louis XIV depicted as Alexander the Great. Another set of tapestries, the Maisons Royales, showed the splendour of court life against a backdrop of stately architecture and magnificent surroundings. When the production of tapestries resumed at the start of the 18th century, three factories, at Aubusson, Gobelins, and Beauvais, assumed a new role and style. Tapestries were no longer employed to cover vast areas of walls and were often woven to fit into a wooden framework. Moreover, the more subtle and varied colours enabled them to compete with paintings as they depicted decorative and fashionable subjects. Well-known painters designed the cartoons or patterns: Boucher, who was director of Beauvais and, later, Gobelins, designed The Loves of the Gods (1734-37), which were set in highly ornate frames embellished by floral gardens. Charles Coypel designed 28 cartoons illustrating the '"chivalrous" deeds of Don Quixote, featuring historical scenes set in medallions, and elaborate sculptural trompe-l'oeilmotifs. Parrocel designed tapestries commemorating the arrival of The Turkish Ambassador (1734-37); and Desportes contributed the delightfully fantastic (and inaccurate) exoticisms of The New Indies. In his role as head painter at the Spanish court, Francisco Goya (1746-1828) produced an extensive series of tapestry cartoons for El Escorial and for the Prado. The scenes displayed the artists liveliness and verve, and the works evoke the grandeur and spirit of Rococo in Spain.

Charles Le Brun,
Alexander Besieging Babylon, from The History of Alexander, Gobelins,
c. 1661-65. Palace of Versailles.



Charles Coypel, The Ball in Barcelona, one of The Stories of Don Quixote set of tapestries, Gobelins,
Musee du Louvre, Paris.


Frangois Boucher, Neptune and Anymone from The Loves of the Gods tapestries, Beauvais,
1757 Petit Palais, Paris.


A Charles le Brun tapestry from a four seasons series.
 This autumnal representation was woven at the Gobelins Manufactory, Paris in 1710


Tapestry after Charles Le Brun
Alexander in Babylon



The Month of December from The Royal Residences
Series after cartoon by Charles Le Brun
French, Paris, about 1712



The Striped Horse from The Old Indies Series after cartoon by Albert Eckhout, painter;
and Frans Post, painter
French, Paris,
about 1690 - 1730






Comfort and practicality were given greater consideration in the design and production of furniture during the 18th century; some styles introduced at this time are still recognizable in modern-day furnishings. The repertoire of 18th-century furniture is mainly French in origin, and included the secretaire or writing desk with hidden drawers; the bergere armchair, with a seat cushion and upholstered arms; the marquise, or deep-seated armchair for two; the chaise-longue, or day-bed; the console, either a wall bracket or side table, often with a mirrored back; movable corner cupboards; and the commode, a decorative, chest-of-drawers for the drawing room. A variety of small tables were produced: tea or tray-tables; dressing tables with little drawers, mirrors, and cosmetic pots; and tables specifically designed for gaming, embroidery, or water-colour painting. Many other items of indoor and outdoor furniture were often taken from the design books of architects and decorators. The more elaborate pieces were made by cabinet makers and embellished by gilt-bronze mountings. Jacques Dubois (1694-1763), Francois Oeben (1720-63), Charles Cressent (1685-1768), and Louis Delanois (c.1731-92) were some of the most gifted craftsmen of the Regency period and the reign of Louis XV. During this time, French furniture in particular was famous for its original designs and craftsmanship. The serpentine outlines, cabriole legs, and curved chair backs were enhanced by lavish wrought bronze designs, with exquisite marquetry, mother-of-pearl or tortoiseshell inlay, and plaques of painted porcelain.


Pair of Commodes.
After designs by Francois de Cuvillies, architect; carving possibly by Joachim Dietrich, wood-carver
German, Munich, about 1745



Stamped by Jacques Dubois
French, Paris, about 1755
Oak veneered with panels of Chinese lacquer on a ground of Nezuko wood and painted with vernis Martin

Corner Cupboard
Movement by Jacques Dubois, clockmaker;
clock case by Unknown ebeniste;
possibly after Juste-Aurele Meissonnier, designer
French, Paris, about 1744 - 1752

Rene Dubois, furniture worker; and stamped by Jacques Dubois,
furniture worker
French, Paris, about 1775




David Roentgen, cylinder-top desk, c. 1785.
Commissioned by the king as a gift for Catherine II this desk features straight lines, geometrical marquetry and minimal use of gilt-bronze, all of which denote the Louis XVI style and the first phase of French Neoclassicism.



J. Demoulin, commode, c. 1760. The dimensions and the sinuous curves of
this item are typical of rocaille taste.
The front is lavishly decorated with Oriental, lacquered scenes and
the asymmetrical gilt-bronze ornamentation is fantastical.



Charles Cressent, commode, made c 1730 shortly before the Regency period.
This item of drawing room furniture retains the characteristics of the Late Baroque;
the dragon handles reflect the fashion for chinoiserie while the gilt-bronze mounts
signal the transition to the Rococo style.




Turin and Venice were the main centres of production for fine furniture in Italy. Well-known architects such as Benedetto Alfieri (1699-1767) and Filippo Juvarra worked on furniture designs in Turin, as did the outstanding craftsman Pietro Piffetti (c.1700-77). Famed for his technical skill, elegance, and originality of form, Piffettis taste, acquired in Rome, showed a preference for the extravagant and unusual in the sculpted and wrought ornamentation of fantastic creatures. He also favoured fine marquetry, tortoiseshell, and ivory inlays. Venetian furniture had a distinctive style: in place of ornamentation made from precious woods and bronze, craftsmen in Venice preferred exquisite, delicate carving, very tine gilding, and imitation Chinese lacquer. Less expensive furniture was decorated with stencils (often by typographers like Remondini di Bassano), which were affixed onto imitation lacquer and then coloured. The art of the Venetians became more highly specialized; furniture was produced from treated softwoods, mainly pine, and painted in delicate shades with Arcadian scenes, landscapes, and chinoiserie inspired by the paintings of popular artists, such as Giandomenico Tiepolo (1727-1804). The applied arts in Parma were dominated by the Duke's architect Ennemond-Alexandre Petitot (1727-1801). who introduced a very refined French style at the Bourbon court. In Milan, Giuseppe Maggiolini (1783-1814), whose work was popular throughout Europe, carried out marquetry decoration to his own designs and to those of fine Neoclassical artists such as Andrea Appiani (1754—1817). Florentine taste soon favoured all things Neoclassical; craftsmanship was encouraged by the court, evident during the time of Marie-Louise de Bourbon and Elisa Bonaparte, when the architect Giuseppe Cacialli (1770-1828) redesigned and refurbished rooms in the Pitti Palace in a very elegant style. The Genoese aristocracy adopted Rococo refinement to suit their own tastes, with marble tops, beautifully grained olive wood, and marquetry flowers echoing 17th-century still life paintings.


Workshop of Maggiolini, chest of drawers Typical of Giuseppe Maggiolini's work,
 this piece is characterized by straight lines and decorated surfaces,
with Neoclassical motifs depicted in the marquetry.



Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo (1745-1825) armchair, 1775.
The personal touch of Bonzanigo in this version of Louis XVI-style
furniture s evident in the intricate carving of the arms and legs.



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