Rococo or as it is sometimes called ‘Late Baroque’ and as my Mum always used to say ‘If it aint Baroque don’t fix it!’ was a natural progression and movement away from the rigid rules of the Baroque movement.
The origins of the term ‘Rococo’ appears to date back to the famously flamboyant court of Louis XV (the grandson of the great ‘Sun King) - the word itself refers to an 18th Century Artistic movement embracing Architecture, interior design, furniture style, decoration, literature, music and even theatre. A derivation of the words ‘Rocaille’ meaning ‘Shell work’ and ‘roche’ meaning Rock from the latin ‘rocca’ – or perhaps from the Italian word ‘Barocco’ (an irregularly shaped pearl) hence the delicate shell designs combined with gentle curves seen in both the Architecture and perhaps more importantly the carvings seen on this style of furniture.
Rococo was very much a reaction against the strict rules laid out by the Baroque movement making way for the more playful, graceful and witty themes used in Rococo - in fact the interior decoration of Rococo style rooms were designed as a complete work of art with elegant and ornate furniture along with small sculptures and ornamental mirrors.
After the death of the great ‘sun King’ and the start of the reign of Louis XV known as ‘Louis the beloved’ in 1715 – the Rococo movement began to make its presence felt, and by the mid 1730’s had truly reached its zenith in France – The Rococo influence was most strongly seen in England during this period when used in silverwork and fabrics along with upholstered silks on ornate beds, chairs and chaises, an influence that very much lingers today.
By the early 1760’s the influence of the Rococo style had begun to diminish in Europe and by the early 1780’s had been replaced by the Neo-Classic school of design with its severe and sharply defined lines.