With the Rococo, the monumental, ostentatious style of the Baroque gave way in all artistic genres to a playful looseness, an imaginative decorative elegance. The painters orientated themselves more strongly on the colourism of the Venetians. Cheerful, gallant themes appeared alongside instructive pictorial programmes. Instead of the ceremonial art of the old days, people valued witty, cheerful, graceful painting that accommodated the refined pleasures and elegant furnishings of everyday life.
The Rococo is a style of European art from about 1730 to about 1780 and developed from the Régence, which anchored in the late Baroque (c. 1700-1720). Its starting point is France. The name comes from the French word rocaille (shellwork) and refers to a recurring ornamental motif that is distinguished from Baroque forms by asymmetry. The term rococo was coined in 1797 by the painter Pierre Maurice Quays. Rococo was slowly replaced by Classicism from around 1770. A transitional style is called Zopfstil in German.
Rococo = Late Baroque
The term rocaille is derived from the two French words roc 'rock' and coquilles 'shells'. The derivation shows that it is primarily a decorative style. For this reason, monumental architecture and the visual arts of the time are only referred to as a separate stylistic epoch to a limited extent. In contrast, a strict demarcation from the Baroque is made, especially in the fields of interior design and decorative arts.
The term was formed in the second half of the 19th century.
In painting, the pastel with its soft, delicate colours was
(e.g. portraits by Rossalba Carriera) became the preferred technique. The new painterly conception was developed in Venice, Paris and London. Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721), who died young in 1721, was perhaps the greatest painter of this epoch.