Late Baroque

Rocaille Style, Chinoiserie

The auricular style ornament transmutes the tectonic framework and stereometric forms into a pliant, formable mass and appears almost to swell out of the ornamental space or surface. This ornament, which developed out of the art of goldsmithing, helped to free ornamentation from the limitations of the surface. In the Rocaille or shellwork style – the basic form of Rococo ornament, developed in France by Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier – ornamentation found its way into three-dimensionality in the mid-18th century. The shell form that gave this style its name, actually a modification of the volute already familiar in scrollwork, now became a favorite architectural embellishment in ornamental compositions, but the shell shape was modified to such an extent that only the asymmetrical cartouche form reminded the beholder of the original form in nature. Ill. 9

Abb 9 Ill.9.: Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier

Shellwork panel from Folge C
Paris, 18th century
Etching 15,9 x 11,3 cm
M.A.K. I.N.: D 777

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In Germany, Rocaille decoration reached a peak in the creations of Francois de Cuvilliés, particularly his decoration of the Amalienburg pavilion (1734–1737) in the park of Nymphenburg Palace near Munich, but also in the architectural creations of Frederick the Great in the 1740s, for example Sanssouci Palace (1744–1747). Ill. 10

Abb 10 Ill.10.: François de Cuvilliés

Folio 22 of the series
Livre Nouveau de Morceaux de fantasies a divers usages
Engraver: Carl Albert von Lespilliez
Munich, 1742/54
Etching 42,8 x 27,4 cm
M.A.K. I.N.: D 738

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In addition to Rocaille, a taste for the exotic character of Chinese arts, with figural and floral Chinese and Indian motifs, dominated ornamentation from 1740; Chinoiserie and the Rocaille genre were often combined with picturesque effect. Ill. 11

Abb 11 Ill.11.: François Boucher

Titlepage of the series : Suitte de Figures Chinoises
Livre Nouveau de Morceaux de fantasies a divers usages
Engraver: Jean Pierre Louis Laurent Hoüel
France, 18th Century
Etching 19,8 x 15,2 cm
M.A.K I.N.: K.I. 4102

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The styles that followed, such as classicism, the Empire style and the Biedermeier, used ornamental motifs from classical antiquity, putting them into new contexts in accordance with the aesthetic tastes of the times.

Bernd Evers, Rainald Franz


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