French Arts – Baroque and Rococo


The 17th century brought the completion of the classic French art of palace architecture. With the Palais du Luxembourg by S. de Brosse (1615–31), the new wings of the Louvre, representative plazas (Place des Vosges, 1605 ff.; Place Dauphine, 1607 ff.) And others. Paris achieved absolute primacy. J. Lemercier, who worked as a builder at the Louvre from 1624 and built the Sorbonne in 1626 ff., Was also responsible for the palace and town of Richelieu (1631 ff.).

For a time the castles in the province were exemplary. F. Mansart built the Orléans wing of Blois Castle in 1635–38 and, from 1642, the clearly structured complex of Maisons-Laffitte near Paris. L. Le Vau created Vaux-le-Vicomte Castle (1656–58; interior fittings and gardens completed in 1661). Approach, residential and auxiliary buildings and the formal garden are a uniformly designed whole. Vaux-le-Vicomte is the preliminary stage to the Palace of Versailles, the residence of Louis XIV, whose expansion began in 1661 by Le Vau and from 1678 by J. Mansart was continued. The core of the corps de logis and the center of the court etiquette were the royal bedroom on the courtyard side and the hall of mirrors on the garden side, which is designed as the main front. The park was included in the overall concept (1663 ff., By A. Le Nôtre). The Parisian aristocratic palaces (hôtels) are based on a castle-like type (Hôtel de Sully by J. Androuet Ducerceau, 1625–27; Hôtel Lambert by Le Vau, 1640 ff.). It is indicative of the neo-classical rigor of French architecture that G. L. Bernini’s baroque design for the east facade of the Louvre had to give way to the colonnade front (C. Perrault and others, 1667/68). J. Mansart determined not only the image of Versailles (Grand Trianon, 1687/88; Palace Chapel, 1699–1710), but also that of the capital (Invalides, 1677–1706; Place des Victoires, 1685 ff.; Place Vendôme, 1699 ff.). Check to see more about France and other countries in the world.

At the beginning of the 18th century, the rococo began to appear in the interior design. Characteristic is the interplay of shell-like curved shapes (rocaille) in stucco work, wood paneling and furniture (in Paris, among others, Hôtel de Toulouse byR. de Cotte, 1714–19; Hôtel de Soubise by G. Boffrand, 1735–40). One of the initiators of the Rococo is the builder and ornament draftsman of Dutch origin G. M. Oppenordt. In the church building in the 17th and early 18th centuries, basilicas based on the Italian model were built, including the churches of Saint-Sulpice (1660 ff.) by Daniel Gittard (* 1625, † 1686) and Saint-Roch (1653 ff.) by Lemercier, colonnaded churches such as Saint-Philippe-du-Roule (1772–84) by J.-F.-T. Chalgrin. The churches Val-de-Grâce (begun in 1645 by Mansart) and Sainte-Geneviève (1764–90, by J. G. Soufflot; since 1791 Panthéon) are important domed buildings. As an example of exemplary town planning, Place Stanislas by E. Héré was built in Nancy between 1751 and 1755, the residence of the exiled Polish King Stanislaus I. Leszczyński. The construction of the Petit Trianon in Versailles (1764–68) by A.-J. Gabriel proves the vitality of the classicist tendencies in French architecture of the 18th century as well as the layout of the Place de la Concorde in Paris (1755).


The sculpture of the 17th / 18th centuries Century made use of both the classical and the baroque formal language. The main tasks included not only busts (bust of Louis XIV. By A. Coysevox, 1681; Versailles, Chateau) grave monuments (tomb of Mazarin of Coysevox, 1689-93, Paris, Institut de France; tomb of Richelieu of F. Girardon, 1694, Paris, Église de Sorbonne; tomb of Marshal Moritz von Sachsen by J.-B. Pigalle, 1753–76, Strasbourg, Saint-Thomas) and monuments (equestrian statue of Louis XIV. Von Girardon, Unveiled in 1699, destroyed in 1792, model in the Louvre; “Alexander als Sieger” by P. Puget, after 1683, preliminary study for an equestrian monument to Louis XIV, ibid; Equestrian statue of Peter the Great in Saint Petersburg by E.-M. Falconet, unveiled in 1782). Numerous sculptors were busy with the production of figures for the royal palaces and gardens, especially for the park of Versailles, among them Puget (“Milon von Kroton”, 1673–82; Paris, Louvre),Girardon (“Rape of Proserpine”), 1677 ff.; Versailles, Schlosspark), Coysevox, N. Cousteau and G. Cousteau the Elder, E. Bouchardon and J.-S. Adam. The portrait busts of J. B. Lemoyne and J.-A. Houdon.


The Fontainebleau school initially had an impact on French painting at the beginning of the 17th century. The graphic reached a climax with the work of J. Callot from Lorraine. In painting, Italian influences came to the fore (especially Caravaggio). by S. Vouet, who was active in Italy for many years, were brought to France. His students included E. Le Sueur and P. Mignard (dome fresco in the Val-de-Grâce church, Paris, 1663), as well as C. Le Brun (decoration of the Galerie d’Apollon in the Louvre, 1661 ff.; furnishings by Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, completed in 1684) and the engraver C. Mellan. Le Brun played a leading role at the academy founded in Paris in 1648 in the dispute over the priority of drawing over color, which he demanded, a dispute that split artists into two parties, “Rubenists” and “Poussinists”. N. Poussin, creator of mythological scenes and heroic landscapes (“The Shepherds of Arcadia”, between 1650 and 1655; Paris, Louvre), was the main representative of the classical direction. In his mythological landscapes, C. G. Lorrain combined classical rigor with a romantic mood (“Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba”, 1648; London, National Gallery). P. de Champaigne from Brussels acted as a mediator of Flemish influences. The portrait engraver R. Nanteuil orientated himself on his portrait style. The Le Nain brothers represented an independent type of genre painting with realistic rural scenes. G. de La Tour’s works suggest the influence of Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro painting. H. Rigaud and N. de Largillière as portraitists as well as A. F. Desportes and J.-B. Oudry combined Flemish influence with French tradition. A. Coypel worked on a royal commission. F. Lemoine emerged as a history painter. He was the teacher of C. J. Natoire, who was particularly valued as a decorative painter, and F. Bouchers. The model for the altar and history paintings by P. Subleyras were the works of Poussin. A. Watteau, master of the »Fêtes galantes« (genre painting), impresses with a brilliant painting and drawing technique (»Embarkation to Kythera«, several versions, including around 1717; Berlin, Charlottenburg Palace). He is succeeded by N. Lancret and J.-B. Father. The outstanding representatives of Rococo painting are next to Watteau Boucher (portraits of the Marquise de Pompadour, i.a. 1756; London, Wallace Collection) and his student J. H. Fragonard (“The Swing”, 1767; London, Wallace Collection). As pastel painters, M.-Q. La Tour and his rival J. B. Perronneau are best known for their character portraits. At the portraits La Tours and mythological portraits JM Nattier tied F. H. Drouais on. Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, who was in the service of Marie-Antoinette, also devoted herself to portraiture. J. S. Chardin’s still lifes worked well beyond their time. Represented the French landscape painting of the 18th century C. J. Vernet and H. Robert. J. B. Greuze preferred genre painting that tended to be sentimental. J.-M. With his history pictures, Vien became trend-setting for J.-L. David, who translated classicism into a political program in his works (“Oath of the Horatians”, 1784; Paris, Louvre).


The ornamental engraver J. Lepautre shaped the decorative style of French classicism with his extensive work of models. Under the direction of Le Bruns (1663 ff.), The Paris tapestry manufacture achieved the same importance as the previously leading Brussels manufacture. Designs for tapestries provided inter alia. Coypel, Desportes, J. F. Troy and Boucher, who was entrusted with the management of the Beauvais manufactory founded in 1664 in 1755, for which Oudry also worked.

The style-forming forms of the Rococo appeared particularly in handicrafts, v. a. with the cabinet makers (inter alia A.-C. Boulle, J. H. Riesener) and in the production of porcelain, for example with the products of the porcelain manufactory that worked in Sèvres from 1756.

French Arts - Baroque and Rococo