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The 10 Rococo Artworks You Should Know
Get inspired 05 Apr 2022

The 10 Rococo Artworks You Should Know

Rococo artworks
The Soap Bubbles, Jean Siméon Chardin, 1734

An artistic movement that emerged in Europe in the 18th century, Rococo art invaded painting, architecture and decorative arts. Following the Baroque period of the 17th century, it explores themes such as love, libertinism, mythology and Christianity. In order to discover this movement, here are the 10 Rococo artworks you need to know!

1. The Lock, by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, one of the most famous Rococo artworks

Rococo artworks
The Lock, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, between 1776 et 1779

One of the most famous Rococo works, The Lock, reveals the intimacy of an embracing couple. This painting has become the symbol of an era, and more precisely of the libertine spirit of the 18th century.

2. Pierrot, formerly known as Gilles, by Jean-Antoine Watteau

Rococo artworks
Pierrot, formerly known as Gilles, Jean-Antoine Watteau, between 1718-1719

Painted between 1718 and 1719, this full-length portrait is of great originality. It represents a comedian in costume, who does not seem to be able to hide his melancholy. The model looks a little shy, almost clumsy, and imbued with a great tragic dimension. It is as if he is trapped in his solitude, despite the four characters of the Italian comedy in the background. No longer putting on an act, this Pierrot stops time and reveals to us the fragility of the human condition.

3. The Swing, one of the most outstanding Rococo artworks

Rococo artworks
Les heureux hasards de l’Escarpolette, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 1766-1769, Wallace Collection

This gallant scene, Les heureux hasards de l’Escarpolette, or The Swing, was painted by Honoré Fragonard. Created between 1766 and 1769, this work was commissioned by François-David Bollioud de Saint-Julien. The baron would have expressly asked to be “placed in such a way as to be able to see Madame’s legs”. A shocking request for the time, but one that ultimately marked its time!

4. The Soap Bubbles, by Jean Siméon Chardin

Rococo artworks
The Soap Bubbles, Jean Siméon Chardin, 1734

This painting is the first of a series of paintings by Jean Siméon Chardin. Having received academic training, the painter nevertheless broke away from certain artistic rules. For example, he painted without a model, using only his memory. However, The Soap Bubbles is his first figurative painting with a model. According to the myth surrounding this work, Chardin chose soap bubbles as a symbol of the transience of existence.

5. The magnificent Bouquet of flowers in a glass of water, by Anne Vallayer-Coster

Rococo artworks
Bouquet of flowers in a glass of water, Anne Vallayer-Coster, around 1770-1800

Created with extreme delicacy, this still life signed by Anne Vallayer-Coster conveys her love of nature. As a subject of admiration and reflection, this work stands the power of time. More than that, it highlights the radiant, almost casual, beauty of flowers.

6. The scandalous Brown Odalisque by François Boucher

The Brown Odalisque, François Boucher
The Brown Odalisque, François Boucher, 1743, Musée du Louvre

François Boucher is one of the painters with the most Rococo artworks to his credit. With The Brown Odalisque, he created a scandal. And for good reason: the person who served as a model would be Madame Boucher. Represented as a half-naked odalisque (a female slave), this was very daring for the time.

7. The Rococo artworks of Bernard II van Riesenburg

Bernard II van Riesen Burgh's artwork
Bernard II van Riesen Burgh’s artwork, between 1740-1745, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In another medium, the Rococo artworks of Bernard II van Riesenburg explore the decorative arts. Using advanced cabinetmaking techniques, his furniture blends Western with Japanese inspirations.

8. The Trevi Fountain, by Niccolo Salvi

The Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain, Niccolo Salvi, 1732-1762 Italie, Rome © Archives Alinari, Florence, Dist. RMN / Mauro Magliani

Just as painting has given birth to many Rococo artworks, architecture also has its share of masterpieces. The Trevi Fountain, in Rome, Italy, is a true architectural jewel, is a case in point. Made of sumptuous volutes, its monumental character still attracts thousands of tourists every day.

9. The Bathing Basin, by Hubert Robert, one of the most beautiful Rococo artworks

The Bathing Basin, Hubert Robert
The Bathing Basin, Hubert Robert, around 1777-1780, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Between the real and the imaginary, this work of Hubert Robert mixes the ancient Italian temple and modern clothing. Under cover of a mythological representation, Hubert Robert offers an atypical and licentious nudity for the time. It’s a painting that is both controversial and enchanting. 

10. The Chinese Garden, by François Boucher

The Chinese Garden, François Boucher
The Chinese Garden, François Boucher, 1742

Another Rococo work of art by the famous François Boucher, The Chinese Garden transposes a Western scene into Asia. A mixture of here and there, the characters are of European type, while the decor recalls China. Adorer of the Chinese daily life, Boucher offers to the spectators this fanciful parenthesis.

Rococo artworks, a mixture of genres and periods

Reaching its peak between 1730 and 1758, Rococo art played on a mixture of genres, periods and styles. This flamboyant period was then replaced by Neo-classicism, marking a return to the ancient canons of beauty. Neoclassical works are less refined and break from Rococo art. And you, which movement do you prefer?