Make your own free website on

Styles of the Rococo Period

Vocabulary (Word Document)
 Pictures for these chapters

Time Line for Rococo Styles
Louis XV 1723-1774                 (historic date, reign of Louis XV)
                1720/23-1760/1770   (stylistic date)
Chippendale 1745-1760ish
                     reign of George II      1727-1760 (mid Georgian)

Louis XV Style

A stylistic development from the Regence but without the classical vocabulary of ornament. The style is characterized by distinctive feminine furniture form and ornament. The term Rococo is derived from the French word Rocaille, or rockwork and is a specific form of asymmetrical ornament composed of  what might be referred to as melting frosting or small broken waves.  (It looks like a word that might sound like sphit).
The furniture forms avoid straight lines whenever possible and the overall effect is visually inviting.  The wonderful shapes are enhanced with graceful carving, exquisite gilded bronze mounts and masterful marquetry.  (Can you tell this is one of my favorite styles)?  About 1760 there was a move away from the sinuous curve and asymmetrical ornamentation of the Rococo due to the discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum in 1738 and 1747 respectively. The furniture between 1760 and 1770 was in a transitional phase and exhibited both Rococo and Neoclassical elements. Classical repetitive motifs and straight lines mingled with chinoiserie and  ancient ruins rendered in marquetry slowly superceded the  Rocaille motif.
Louis XV Characteristics include:   New Furniture Forms
Curved forms  Marquise (loveseat)
Asymmetrical ornamentation  Canapé
Rocaille motifs  Chaise longue (turquoise, one piece duchesse and two or three piece duchesse brisee)
Floral motifs  Lit a la polonaise
Bowknots and ribbon motifs  Table a ouvrage (some of tricoteuse type)
Delicate cabriole legs often terminating in French whorl feet  Bureau a cylindre
Carved chair frames  Bureau a pente
Feet on case-goods often terminate in sabots  Bonheur du jour
  Secretaire a abattant

Chippendale Style in England:

Thomas Chippendale is credited with introducing the Rococo to England.  Although others before him, notably Henry Copeland and Matthias Lock,  had produced designs in this style many years before the publication of Chippendale's 1754 the Gentleman and Cabinetmaker's Director, it was this book that popularized the French Rococo style.  In the third edition of the Director, (1759-1762), Chippendale introduced Gothic and Chinese tastes to his collection.  Make no mistake, the Rococo in England was nothing more than French motifs grafted onto Georgian forms.  Bowknots and ribbons, cabochon and leaf motifs and some rocaille 'sphits' are typical of  period.
English Rococo is not asymmetrical and lacks the freedom of movement and pleasing form found in French furniture. It is not uncommon for English Rococo pieces to terminate in claw and ball feet or bracket feet.
The Gothic and Chinese tastes are easy to recognize as they too are Georgian forms dressed up in period costume.  Gothic ogee arches and Chinese pagodas and lattice work are typical.
To differentiate a Chippendale chair from the Early Georgian look for a straightening of  the vertical uprights of the back and a flattened top rail that ends in either a cupid's bow or turns down slightly to meet the uprights.
Various style legs were popular including straight; cluster column; and cabriole.  Although Chippendale never illustrated the claw and ball foot in his Director, it remained in fashion.
Syllabus Egypt, Greece, Rome, Romanesque, Gothic, Byzantine Renaissance Baroque American Colonial Contact Marg