Monday, June 30, 2014

Art Appreciation: Late French Baroque and Rococo


The French Baroque, The Enlightenment and Versailles
 
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Context:  In order to understand the next period of art, the later French Baroque, the Rococo and Neoclassicism, you need to know about a major intellectual movement that occurred during the 17th and 18th centuries known as the "Enlightenment." According to Webster's Dictionary:
 
en.light.en.ment n (1669)
1: the act or means of enlightening: the state of being enlightened
2 cap: a philosophic movement of the 18th century marked by a rejection of traditional social, religious, and political ideas and an emphasis on rationalism
--used with the
3 Buddhism: a final blessed state marked by the absence of desire or suffering
The most basic and main concept is that the Enlightenment was a period of time and an intellectual movement in which people began to think that reason was more important than religion or superstition.

The 'Enlightenment' according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica was,
 








French SIÈCLE DE LUMIÈRES (AGE OF THE ENLIGHTENED), German AUFKLÄRUNG, a European intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries in which ideas concerning God, reason, nature, and man were synthesized into a worldview that gained wide assent and that instigated revolutionary developments in art, philosophy, and politics. Central to Enlightenment thought were the use and the celebration of reason, the power by which man understands the universe and improves his own condition. The goals of rational man were considered to be knowledge, freedom, and happiness. The powers and uses of reason had first been explored by the philosophers of ancient Greece, who discerned in the ordered regularity of nature the workings of an intelligent mind. Rome adopted and preserved much of Greek culture, notably including the ideas of a rational natural order and natural law. Amid the turmoil of empire, however, a new concern arose for personal salvation, and the way was paved for the triumph of the Christian religion. Christian thinkers gradually found uses for their Greco-Roman heritage. The system of thought known as scholasticism, culminating in the work of Thomas Aquinas, resurrected reason as a tool of understanding but subordinated it to spiritual revelation and the revealed truths of Christianity.

The intellectual and political edifice of Christianity, seemingly impregnable in the European Middle Ages, fell in turn to the assaults made on it by humanism, the Renaissance, and the Protestant Reformation. Humanism bred the experimental science of Francis Bacon, Nicolaus Copernicus, and Galileo and the mathematical rigour of René Descartes, G.W. Leibniz, and Sir Isaac Newton. The Renaissance rediscovered much of classical culture and revived the notion of man as a creative being, while the Reformation, more directly but in the long run no less effectively, challenged the monolithic authority of the Roman Catholic church. For Luther as for Bacon or Descartes, the way to truth lay in the application of human reason. Received authority, whether of Ptolemy in the sciences or of the church in matters of the spirit, was to be subject to the probings of unfettered minds.

The successful application of reason to any question depended on its correct application--on the development of a methodology of reasoning that would serve as its own guarantee of validity. Such a methodology was most spectacularly achieved in the sciences and mathematics, where the logics of induction and deduction made possible the creation of a sweeping new cosmology. The success of Newton, in particular, in capturing in a few mathematical equations the laws that govern the motions of the planets gave great impetus to a growing faith in man's capacity to attain knowledge. At the same time, the idea of the universe as a mechanism governed by a few simple (and discoverable) laws had a subversive effect on the concepts of a personal God and individual salvation that were central to Christianity.

Inevitably, the method of reason was applied to religion itself. The product of a search for a natural--rational--religion was deism, which, although never an organized cult or movement, conflicted with Christianity for two centuries, especially in England and France. For the deist a very few religious truths sufficed, and they were truths felt to be manifest to all rational beings: the existence of one God, often conceived of as architect or mechanician, the existence of a system of rewards and punishments administered by that God, and the obligation of men to virtue and piety. Beyond the natural religion of the deists lay the more radical products of the application of reason to religion: skepticism, atheism, and materialism.

The Enlightenment produced the first modern secularized theories of psychology and ethics. John Locke conceived of the human mind as being at birth a tabula rasa, a blank slate on which experience wrote freely and boldly, creating the individual character according to the individual experience of the world. Supposed innate qualities, such as goodness or original sin, had no reality. In a darker vein, Thomas Hobbes portrayed man as moved solely by considerations of his own pleasure and pain. The notion of man as neither good nor bad but interested principally in survival and the maximization of his own pleasure led to radical political theories. Where the state had once been viewed as an earthly approximation of an eternal order, with the city of man modeled on the city of God, now it came to be seen as a mutually beneficial arrangement among men aimed at protecting the natural rights and self-interest of each.

The idea of society as a social contract, however, contrasted sharply with the realities of actual societies. Thus the Enlightenment became critical, reforming, and eventually revolutionary. Locke and Jeremy Bentham in England, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Voltaire in France, and Thomas Jefferson in America all contributed to an evolving critique of the arbitrary, authoritarian state and to sketching the outline of a higher form of social organization, based on natural rights and functioning as a political democracy. Such powerful ideas found expression as reform in England and as revolution in France and America.

The Enlightenment expired as the victim of its own excesses. The more rarefied the religion of the deists became, the less it offered those who sought solace or salvation. The celebration of abstract reason provoked contrary spirits to begin exploring the world of sensation and emotion in the cultural movement known as Romanticism. The Reign of Terror that followed the French Revolution severely tested the belief that man could govern himself. The high optimism that marked much of Enlightenment thought, however, survived as one of the movement's most enduring legacies: the belief that human history is a record of general progress.



Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Some Enlightenment Figures and Ideas Rene Descartes 1596
Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his "Social Contract"
Benjamin Franklin 1770's
Thomas Jefferson
Sir Isaac Newton 1642-1726
Denis Diderot 1713-1784
Adam Smith
David Hume
Madame de Stael
Madame Marie-Therese Rodet Geoffrine
Madame Pompadour
Catherine the Great
The Salon

The Enlightenment
 
Although they both lived and worked in the late 17th century, Sir Isaac Newton and John Locke were the true fathers of the Enlightenment. Newton was the last of the scientific geniuses of the age, and his great Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687; Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) was the culmination of the entire movement that had begun with Copernicus and Galileo--the first great physical synthesis based upon the application of mathematics to nature in every detail. The basic idea of the authority and autonomy of reason, which dominated all philosophizing in the 18th century, was, at bottom, the consequence of Newton's work. Copernicus, Kepler, Bacon, Galileo, and Descartes--scientists and methodologists of science--performed like men urgently attempting to persuade nature to reveal her secrets. Newton's comprehensive mechanistic system made it seem as if at last she had done so. It is impossible to exaggerate the enormous enthusiasm that this assumption kindled in all of the major thinkers of the 18th century from Locke to Kant. The new enthusiasm for reason that they all instinctively shared was based not upon the mere advocacy of propagandists like Descartes and Leibniz but upon the conviction that for the intellectual conquest of the natural world reason had really worked.
Encyclopædia Britannica,
One of the greatest of these Enlightenment thinkers was Jean-Jacques Rousseau, according to the Brittanica, Rousseau was,
 
b. June 28, 1712, Geneva, Switz.
d. July 2, 1778, Ermenonville, France
French philosopher, writer, and political theorist whose treatises and novels inspired the leaders of the French Revolution and the Romantic generation. Rousseau was the least academic of modern philosophers and in many ways was the most influential. His thought marked the end of the Age of Reason. He propelled political and ethical thinking into new channels. His reforms revolutionized taste, first in music, then in the other arts. He had a profound impact on people's way of life; he taught parents to take a new interest in their children and to educate them differently; he furthered the expression of emotion rather than polite restraint in friendship and love. He introduced the cult of religious sentiment among people who had discarded religious dogma. He opened men's eyes to the beauties of nature, and he made liberty an object of almost universal aspiration.
One of the places where men were able to meet and talk about philosophy and politics was the French Salon. Which was a weekly meeting that was often run in the apartments of an aristocratic or connected French woman.  "However, Jean Jacques Rousseau, a brilliant French philosopher and writer of the 18th century, did not believe that exchanges of social and intellectual discourse could possibly take place in salons led by women. He argued that in the salons where women dominated, men would easily fall into the trap of trying to please the women. In such a setting, how could any serious conversation take place?"
(http://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255-s01/paris_homework/Salon_negative_view.html)
 
 
"Imagine what can be the temper of the soul of a man who is uniquely occupied with the important business of amusing women and who spends his entire life doing for them what they ought to do for us?" ~Rousseau
(Goodman, Dena. Enlightenment Salons: The Convergence of Female and Philosophie Ambitions. (1994)  www.worc.ac.uk/chic/suffrage/document/goodman.htm)

 

Van Loo Portrait of  Madame Pompadour
The role of women during the Enlightenment changed radically.  Women such as Madame de Stael, Madame Marie-Therese Rodet Geoffrine, Madame Pompadour and Catherine the Great of Russia ran regularly scheduled "Salons" which were gathering places for the new intellectuals of the 18th century.  Often in this role women were able to influence if not orchestrate important philosophical and political events.  One such powerful woman was Madame Pompadour.
MADAME DE POMPADOUR, 
b. Dec. 29, 1721, Paris
d. April 15, 1764, Versailles, Fr. 
also called JEANNE-ANTOINETTE LE NORMANT D'ÉTIOLES influential mistress (from 1745) of the French king Louis XV and a notable patron of literature and the arts.  Early years.
Her parents were on the fringes of a class gaining in importance, speculators in the world of finance. Some of these people made immense fortunes, but many ended in the gutter if not in prison. Her father, François Poisson, involved in a black-market scandal, had to flee the country in 1725; his beautiful wife and two small children were then looked after by a more fortunate colleague, Le Normant de Tournehem. Both children were clever, and the girl was fascinating; she was educated to be the wife of a rich man. In those days rich men, even if they came from a low class, were interested in art and literature, and they expected their wives to share these interests.
By the time Mademoiselle Poisson was of an age to marry, she could hold her own in any society and had made friends with many distinguished men, including Voltaire. Le Normant de Tournehem arranged a match for her with his own nephew, Charles-Guillaume Le Normant d'Étioles, a rising young man; they had a little girl, Alexandrine. Madame d'Étioles became a shining star of Parisian society and was admired by the King himself. In 1744 Louis XV's young mistress, the Duchesse de Châteauroux, died suddenly. She was soon replaced by Madame d'Étioles, who obtained a legal separation from her husband and was created marquise de Pompadour.







Nineteenth-century historians thought that Madame de Pompadour had complete ascendancy over Louis XV. These post-Revolution writers were concerned with portraying the Bourbon monarchs as poor creatures; it is now generally admitted that Louis XV was a much more able man than he has been painted. Shy and introspective, he had difficulty in communicating with people whom he did not know well. Madame de Pompadour acted as his private secretary, but, although she gave the orders, the decisions were made by the King. She began her reign at Versailles modestly. She was lodged in a few rooms under the roof; she set out to make herself agreeable to all those who counted for anything in the palace, beginning with Queen Marie (Maria Leszczynska). Marie could hardly have been a more unsuitable wife for the handsome, artistic, sensual, and pleasure-loving Louis XV. Eight years older than he, she was preoccupied with the welfare of her father (a deposed king of Poland), with childbearing, and with religion. After giving birth to an heir to the throne (and eight or nine other children between 1727 and 1737), she let the King understand that she had no wish to remain sexually intimate with him.

After five romantic years in her attic, Madame de Pompadour moved downstairs to a regal apartment. Louis XV now began to take other mistresses, but Madame de Pompadour was more firmly established than ever before; favours, promotions, and privileges could be obtained only through her good offices.

Artistic and political collaboration with Louis.

Her collaboration with the King was twofold, artistic and political. The artistic side was wholly successful. On her suggestion, her brother was appointed director of the King's buildings and created marquis de Marigny; the brother, the sister, and Louis XV, working in perfect harmony, planned and built the École Militaire and the Place Louis XV (now the Place de la Concorde) in Paris, most of the palace of Compiègne, the Petit Trianon Palace at Versailles, a new wing at the palace of Fontainebleau, and the exquisite Château de Bellevue, as well as many pavilions and summer houses. He and his mistress patronized all forms of decorative art: painters, sculptors, cabinetmakers, and craftsmen worked under the royal eye; the famous porcelain factory was built at Sèvres. Madame de Pompadour's 20 years of power marked the very apogee of taste in France. The protector of most of the authors and the editor of the Encyclopédie, she would have liked to do for literature what she did for the arts, but the King had no literary interests and disliked the intellectuals whom he knew.

The political collaboration between the King and his mistress was much less successful than the artistic, mainly because the French politicians and generals of the day were of such poor calibre. The Duc de Choiseul, by far the ablest of the ministers, was Madame de Pompadour's protégé. He was brought in to implement the famous Reversal of Alliances, which allied France with its old enemy Austria against the German Protestant principalities. This was a statesmanlike conception, but it was unpopular and led to the Seven Years' War, disastrous to France. Frederick the Great crushed the huge, incompetently led French and Austrian armies, while the English were driving the French out of Canada. All these defeats were laid at the door of Madame de Pompadour. She fell prey to melancholy, and soon after the end of the war she died, in the spring of 1764, probably of cancer of the lung, in her apartment at Versailles. One of her last actions was to get Louis XV's support for the revision of the Calas case, a gross miscarriage of justice in which Voltaire was interested. Voltaire said of her:

I mourn her out of gratitude . . . Born sincere, she loved the King for himself; she had righteousness in her soul and justice in her heart; all this is not to be met with every day.

Encyclopædia Britannica
The Last Half of the Baroque
French Art 1700 - c1790
The French Baroque, The Enlightenment and Versailles

The movie the "Man in the Iron Mask" was filmed at Vaux le Vicomte which for the film producers was a low rent Versailles.  But the painting at right was an important anachronistic prop!

Hyacinthe Rigaud 
Portrait of Louis XIV (14th) 
1701Oil on canvas 9'2''x7''
Located in Louvre, Paris

Velázquez' 1599-1660 
Pope Innocent X (the Tenth) 1650
oil on canvas Spanish, Baroque 

Hyacinthe Rigaud 
Portrait of Louis XIV (14th) 
1701 Oil on canvas 9'2''x7''
Located in Louvre, Paris
These two paintings are both Baroque renderings of important leaders from the 1600's.  One of them represents the older more theological traditions of Europe and the other represents the "Enlightenment," although after learning about him you may find that he really wasn't.  The way in which they are portrayed are important clues as to how each of these rulers ruled there people and how they saw the world.  You will be given an assignment in which you will be asked to compare and contrast these two paintings and come up with some conclusions as to how each ruler is portrayed formally and iconographically.  You will be asked what this might mean about each ruler and the manner in which they governed.

VELÁZQUEZ 1599-1660 
Pope Innocent X (the Tenth) 1650
oil on canvas Spanish, Baroque 
 Innocent X 
 b. May 7, 1574, Rome d. Jan. 7, 1655, Rome original name GIOVANNI BATTISTA PAMPHILI, OR GIAMBATTISTA PAMFILI, pope from 1644 to 1655. Pamphili was a church judge under Pope Clement VIII and a papal representative at Naples for Pope Gregory XV. He was made ambassador to Spain and cardinal (1626) by Pope Urban VIII, whom he succeeded on Sept. 15, 1644. Having been supported by cardinals who had opposed his predecessor, Innocent reversed Urban's policies, as demonstrated by his condemnation of the Peace of Westphalia--the collective name for the settlements of 1648, which brought to an end the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Dutch and the German phase of the Thirty Years' War and alienated Catholic lands. But he reigned at a time when popes were no longer consulted by nations in settling war or making peace, and his protest went unnoticed by both sides.  Innocent's relationship with his relatives was questionable, for he was guilty of nepotism, and much of his pontificate was dominated by his avaricious sister-in-law, Olimpia Maidalchini. Innocent supported the Spanish Habsburgs--a branch of one of the great sovereign dynasties of Europe--by refusing to recognize the independence of Portugal, then at war with Spain. In Rome, Innocent attacked Urban's relatives, the Barberini, for extortion and confiscated their property. He clashed with France when the Barberini took refuge in Paris with Cardinal Mazarin, whose threat to invade Italy forced Innocent to yield. In theological matters he intervened in the quarrel between the Jesuits and the Jansenists and in a bull of 1653 condemned five propositions concerning the nature of grace as interpreted by Bishop Cornelius Jansen, the founder of Jansenism. A century of controversy with the Jansenists ensued, which was particularly damaging to the French Church. By the time of Innocent's death, papal prestige had seriously declined. 
 "Innocent X."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   December 26, 2002. 
Important clue:  The Vatican is where Pope Innocent lived and worked.



Hyacinthe Rigaud 
Portrait of Louis XIV (14th) 
1701 Oil on canvas 9'2''x7''
Located in Louvre, Paris
(See page 757)
 Louis XIV 
 b. Sept. 5, 1638, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Fr. d. Sept. 1, 1715, Versailles byname LOUIS THE GREAT, LOUIS THE GRAND MONARCH, OR THE SUN KING, French LOUIS LE GRAND, LOUIS LE GRAND MONARQUE, OR LE ROI SOLEIL, king of France (1643-1715) who ruled his country, principally from his great palace at Versailles, during one of its most brilliant periods and who remains the symbol of absolute monarchy of the classical age. Internationally, in a series of wars between 1667 and 1697, he extended France's eastern borders at the expense of the Habsburgs and then, in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), engaged a hostile European coalition in order to secure the Spanish throne for his grandson. Throughout his long reign Louis XIV (1643-1715) never lost the hold over his people he had assumed at the beginning. He worked hard to project his authority in the splendid setting of Versailles, to depict it in his arrogant motto: "Nec pluribus impar" ("None his equal"), and in his sun emblem. He buttressed his authority with the divine-right doctrines elaborated by Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet and proclaimed it across Europe by force of arms. Yet he made surprisingly few institutional or administrative changes in the structure of government. Like Richelieu, Louis used the system that he had inherited and adapted it to suit his own personality and outlook. This practice may be seen first in his attitude to the machinery of central government.
. . . the king never allowed the great nobles a similar opportunity for revolt. Versailles became a place of surveillance for pensioned noblemen and their families whose only serious occupation was the traditional one of arms, for the pursuit of which Louis provided ample opportunities. The second rebellious group in the Frondes, the members of the Parlement of Paris, were likewise subjected to stringent controls. In 1673 Louis produced regulations stipulating that the court's remonstrances against royal enactments sent to it could in future only be made after the laws concerned had been registered. By this device the king effectively muzzled the magistrates' criticisms of royal policy. It was equally his intention to overcome the delaying tactics of the provincial courts, especially those situated close to vulnerable frontiers.
 "The age of Louis XIV."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   December 26, 2002. 
Important clue:  Versailles is where Louis XIV lived and worked.


mansard roof
1631
Philibert Le Roy: Started Remodeling 
Palace of Versailles 1668-1685
Louis Le Vau: Decorated Facade
Charles Lebrun: Architect/Decorator Coordinated all the decorations
Andre Le Nôtre: Gardens
Jules Hardouin Mansard: Architect
Nicolas Fouquet: Treasurer According to the Brittanica Versailles was,
The original residence, built from 1631 to 1634, was primarily a hunting lodge and private retreat for Louis XIII (reigned 1610-43) and his family. Under the guidance of Louis XIV (1643-1715), it was transformed (1661-1710) into an immense and extravagant complex surrounded by stylized English and French gardens; every detail of its construction glorified the king. The additions were designed by such renowned architects as Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Robert de Cotte, and Louis Le Vau. Charles Le Brun oversaw the interior decoration. Landscape artist André Le Nôtre created symmetrical French gardens that included ornate fountains with "magically" still water, expressing the power of humanity--and, specifically, the king--over nature. Declared the official royal residence in 1682 and the official residence of the Court of France on May 6, 1682, the Palace of Versailles was abandoned after the death of Louis XIV in 1715. In 1722, however, it was returned to its status as royal residence. Further additions were made during the reigns of Louis XV (1715-74) and Louis XVI (1774-92). Following the French Revolutionof 1789, the complex was nearly destroyed; it was subsequently restored by Louis-Philippe (1830-48), but its utility gradually decreased. By the 20th century, though it was occasionally used for plenary congresses of the French parliament or to house visiting heads of state, the primary utility of the palace lay in tourism.
The French Baroque style at Versailles can best be summed up as follows: Almost all the rooms, paintings and ornamentation uses many different kind of materials.  Usually the designs contain almost no straight lines and it use a variety of classical forms.  The designs are also meant to be somewhat theatrical and many of its qualities are meant to be surprising, unexpected and labor intensive.
The palace itself is over a quarter of a mile long
Make sure you read Stokstad "French Baroque Garden Design." page 780 Form:  Overall the gardens and estate take up more than four square miles of land.  Originally the land was swampland and Louis exercising his power as the "Sun King" (He believed he was Apollo on the earth.) drained the swamp and literally transformed the land into a paradise. 
Across this mathematically precise landscape (see Stokstad for an in depth discussion) were radiating pathways that look like star shaped patterns.  There were long flat basins of water as well as fountains that were run by an intricate hydraulic system that ran beneath the gardens. 
Iconography:  The gardens and palace at Versailles are the ultimate expression of the enlightenment and of Louis' power as a monarch.
Enlightenment philosophy is expressed in two ways.  First, it shows man's power over nature.  Literally nature has been transformed through man's enlightened science.  Second, the radiating patterns recall the sun.  Imagery of the sun is often referred to as "solar imagery" and it represents the light of reason.  Solar imagery also represent Louis who referred to himself as Apollo and the "Sun King."
Louis' power is expressed in the solar imagery but also in the cost that was incredible in terms of human lives and it drained the states coffers as well as increased the taxation of the nobles.

Hydraulic Network beneath the gardens

 

The Orangerie
Iconography:  The Orangerie is somewhat portable and extravagant orchard of orange trees.  The orange relates to solar imagery in that in terms of mythology, oranges were considered the "golden apples" of the sun and are therefore linked to Apollo.  Fresh fruit and oranges in particular were also a luxury item and this is an expression of Louis' power just to have them.
The "Basin of Apollo" and the statue of Apollo surrounded by fountains are also part of this solar imagery.  The basin and the statue face east (where the sun rises) and tie in with the myth of Apollo who rides the chariot of the sun across the sky. 
The fountain would have been activated when Louis went for his walks in the morning and the chariot's jets would have made it appear as if the horses on Apollo's great chariot were sending up sprays of water.
Again the control of nature and resources such as water combined with hydraulic technologies would be both an expression of Louis' power and also of enlightenment thinking which was perceived as rationality over disorder.

parterre -- a level and patterned garden

Hyacinthe Rigaud 
Portrait of Louis XIV (14th) 
1701 Oil on canvas 9'2''x7''
Located in Louvre, Paris
Iconography:  If you look closely at Louis' robe you will see the same "flower" on his garment as is sculpted into the topiary of the parterre.  This symbol is called the fleur de lis.  According to the Brittanica,
 
also spelled FLEUR-DE-LYS, OR FLEUR-DE-LUCE ("lily flower"), stylized emblem or device much used in ornamentation and, particularly, in heraldry, long associated with the French crown. Strictly, it consists of three petals or leaves--the central one erect, the other two curving right and left away from it--joined by a horizontal band below which the smaller feet of the three petals are visible. Variant forms are the fleur-de-lis au pied coupé, or au pied nourri, in which the feet are absent or are replaced by a trapezoid pedestal, and the fleur-de-lis remplie, or florencée, or épanouie, with stamens shown between the petals and with the petals themselves divided like flowers at their upper extremities. If a lily is represented naturalistically in heraldry, it is called a lis-de-jardin ("garden lily") to distinguish it from the stylized fleur-de-lis. An emblem similar to the fleur-de-lis is often found in art from the earliest times in many parts of the world and may not always signify a flower. The principal importance of the emblem, however, derives from its long association with the French royal arms. There is a legend that a lily, emblematic of purity, was sent from heaven to the Frankish king Clovis (c. 466-511) at his Baptism, and it has been suggested that the name fleur-de-lis is a pun on fleur de Louis (Louis-Clovis); but perhaps the figure was derived from that of a dove descending, symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Louis VI of France used the device both as his seal and on coins; Louis VIII wore blue vestments embroidered with gold lilies at his consecration; and soon a blue shield sprinkled with golden fleurs-de-lis was adopted as the royal arms. Charles V of France in 1376 limited the number of fleurs-de-lis to three, in honour of the Holy Trinity. The association of the device with the French crown led to its inclusion in the arms of numerous gentlemen and municipalities in France, and the English kings during the Hundred Years' War began quartering the French arms with their own to represent their claims to French sovereignty; they were to remain until George III's time. The red lily (fleur-de-lis épanouie) is the badge of Florence in Italy. 
Louis rather liked this emblem because the fleur-de-lis is pun on "fleur de Louis" (Louis-Clovis) fit his name as well.

 

The first floor, the Salon de la Guerre (Room of War)
Form:  The palace at Versailles is arranged symmetrically and utilizes an expensive range of materials.  The multi-media use of materials is somewhat similar to Bernini's use of materials in the Vatican and for his Cornaro Chapel 1647-1652.  Here Mansard and Le Brun have used, leaded crystal, marble, wood parquet flooring (a type of wood inlay) stucco, plaster, gold leaf, bronze and silver backed mirrors.  See Stokstad for more about the mirrors. Iconography:  The materials used are an expression of wealth and power.  The overall symmetrical design and classical vocabulary is a reference to the ideas of rationalism and classical balance however, the theatrical gaudiness of the structure is an attempt to show wealth and power in an almost irrational manner.
The Hall of Mirrors (center) is flanked by the Salon de la Guerre (Room of War) and the Salon de la Paix (Room of Peace).  In a way, this a reference to the Apollonian/Dionysian powers the monarch had.  It is an attempt to show through the design of the building, the powers of the Louis but also that he was a balanced ruler who had both attributes at his disposal.
In the center of the Salon de la Guerre (Room of War) is an equestrian portrait (figure on horseback) of the king.  Notice how large the kings body is in comparison to the horses.  This is very similar to the depictions of the Lapiths and Centaurs from the metopes of the Parthenon and could mean similar things.  Most likely though, the size scale difference between the horse and its rider is to show the supremacy of the king over the animal he controls and to literally make im larger than life.  Notice below the same image occurs in a rejected sculpture by the Italian artist Bernini below.

Lapith Fighting a Centaur,
metope relief from the Doric frieze 
on the south side of the Parthenon c440 BCE
British Museum, London
Clay model and presentation drawing of an 
Equestrian Portrait of King Louis XIV by Bernini These two images were commissioned by Louis of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, however, Bernini after submitting some of his designs to the king was rejected.  Bernini returned to Italy to work on bigger and better projects.

 
Stokstad discusses the "Hall of Mirrors" in some depth.  Check out what she has to say.

 
 

Form:  The King's Bedchamber is located in the center of the palace on the first floor where the windows of the room face the east.   Across the center of the room is ornate low banister that separates the room in two sections. As in every other room in the palace, the multi-media use of materials is somewhat similar to Bernini's use of materials in the Vatican and for his Cornaro Chapel 1647-1652.  The architects have used, leaded crystal, marble, wood parquet flooring (a type of wood inlay) stucco, plaster, gold leaf, bronze and silver backed mirrors.  See Stokstad for more about the mirrors.
Iconography:  The materials used are an expression of wealth and power.  The overall symmetrical design and classical vocabulary is a reference to the ideas of rationalism and classical balance however, the theatrical gaudiness of the structure is an attempt to show wealth and power in an almost irrational manner.
The placement of the room in the overall structure of the building literally is designed to make the king the center of Versailles's universe.  The room faces east so that it meets the rays of the rising sun which is also a reference to Louis' conception of himself as the "Sun King." 
Context:  This room was used also as the starting point of a day in Versailles.  According to Herbert Broderick, a professor at Lehman College in New York, guests would be ushered into the room before sunrise where they would stand way from the bed kept separate by the low banister.  When the sun rose, the curtains of Louis' bed would be thrown back and the sun and the king would both rise.  This kind of theatricality was a common sort of event at Versailles and Louis loved the attention.  Apparently Louis also performed in semi ballet dance performances and was also an accomplished guitarist.


 

Andre Boulle King's Commode 1708 Form:  Notice how this cabinet uses many different kind of materials. 
It exemplifies the French Baroque style found at Versailles because it 
contains almost no straight lines and it uses a variety of classical forms. 
Its style is also somewhat theatrical and many of its qualities are meant 
to be surprising, unexpected and labor intensive.
According to the Brittanica, 
 
Boulle, André-Charles  b. Nov. 11, 1642, Paris, France d. Feb. 29, 1732, Paris Boulle also spelled BOULE, OR BUHL, one of France's leading cabinetmakers, whose fashion of inlaying, called boulle, or buhl, work, swept Europe and was heavily imitated during the 18th and 19th centuries. An architect as well, he also worked in bronze and mosaic and designed elaborate monograms.  As a young man Boulle studied drawing, painting, and sculpture; his fame as the most skillful furniture designer in Paris led to his being chosen, in 1672, by Louis XIV to succeed Jean Macé as royal cabinetmaker at Versailles. Boulle created much of Versailles's furniture. His masterpiece, however, was his decoration of the dauphin's private study with flooring in wood mosaic and extraordinarily detailed paneling and marquetry (1681-83; now destroyed). Allowed also to execute private commissions, he included among his patrons such eminent royalty as King Philip V of Spain, the duke of Bourbon, and the electors of Bavaria and Cologne. 
 
Boulle's style is characterized by elaborate adornment with brass (occasionally engraved) and tortoiseshell marquetry. Although the technique of marquetry was originally used by 16th-century Italian craftsmen, Boulle developed it to its ultimate. He incorporated exotic woods from India and South America. His personal collection of master drawings, from which he extracted much of his inspiration, included works by the 15th-16th-century Italian artist Raphael, the 17th-century Flemish artist Rubens, and the 17th-century Italian engraver Stefano della Bella. On retirement Boulle left his studio to his four sons, among whom were the notable cabinetmakers André-Charles Boulle II (d. 1745) and Charles-Joseph Boulle (d. 1754). His collection was destroyed by fire in 1720; his account of the precious loss reveals an enormous production in addition to what had already gone to other collections. He returned to his studio, directing it until his death. In 1754 Charles-Joseph had hired the brilliant German furniture designer Jean-François Oeben, from whom the Boulle tradition was inherited by Jean-Henri Riesener. His style continued with tremendous success in France during the 18th century and under Napoleon III. Such was its popularity that any piece with some copper inlay on a black or red ground came to be described as buhl.
 "Boulle, André-Charles."   Britannica 2001 Standard Edition CD-ROM.   Copyright © 1994-2001 Britannica.com Inc.   December 26, 2002.



Baroque French Classicism Poussin and the Rococo
 
Nicolas Poussin,  'Et in Arcadia Ego' 1637-39 
Oil on canvas, 185 x 121 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris
"I am here in Arcadia too"
French, Baroque (Learned to paint in Italy)
Stele of Hegeso
c.410-400 BC, Marble, 5'9"
Athens. Classic Greek
Form:  This painting incorporates intense or saturated colors and a full use of chiaroscuro, linear perspective and atmospheric perspective.  One of the things Poussin is noted for is his use of color and the creation of pastoral or arcadian idealized landscapes. Although the portrayal of landscape is important in Poussin's work, the composition of this image recalls friezes from ancient Roman and Greek buildings such as those found  in such friezes as the Stele of Hegeso c.410-400 BC and on the Ara Pacis and the Parthenon.  As such, it is almost a neoclassical work of art.  Like its classical counterparts, the image is constructed so that most of the figures are placed in the foreground and even though there is the creation of deep space, the background is not as important as the figures.
Poussin's figures are also dressed and modeled after classical figures.  There anatomies are idealized and some of the distortions of the human faced evidenced in such friezes as the Stele of Hegeso c.410-400 BCE.
This painting is Baroque but not Rococo in style and in some ways, because it is so simple and classical, it is almost more Renaissance in form than Baroque.
Iconography:  Overtly this image refers to the classical tradition that artists of the Renaissance and Baroque periods were educated in and revered and this arcadian  scene is more or less a classical image of paradise.  The shepherds in this arcadian scene are leaning over and pointing at the inscription on a sarcophagus (stone coffin).   The inscription on the sarcophagus is also the title of the painting.  'Et in Arcadia Ego' is Latin for "even in Arcadia I am here.  Therefore the sarcophagus serves a similar purpose to the trompe l’oeil skeleton at the bottom of Masaccio's Trinity with Donors, it is a memento mori.
Context:  Poussin is known as one of the greatest French artists who ever lived yet he really did not work or study in France.  Born in France sometime in 1623 or 24 he made his way to Rome and met Giambattista Marino, the Italian court poet to Marie de Médicis and began his real education.  According to the Brittanica, "Marino commissioned Poussin to make a series of mythological drawings illustrating Ovid's Metamorphoses."
At one point in his life (around 1640) he returned to Paris but he really wasn't as successful as he would have liked and he moved back to Italy where he was considered a slightly lower quality painter than his Italian contemporaries.  He then earned his living by taking private commissions and painting fairly smaller works.
Nevertheless, Italy and the Italian penchant for taking on classical themes appealed to Poussin and became a staple of his subject matter.

 
POUSSIN, Nicolas. Echo and Narcissus 1628-30
Oil on canvas, 74 x 100 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris
French Baroque
Form: This shares in many of the same qualities as the painting above.  This painting incorporates intense or saturated colors and a full use of chiaroscuro, linear perspective and atmospheric perspective and the pastoral or arcadian landscape.  The composition of this image recalls friezes from ancient Roman and Greek buildings and Poussin's figures are also dressed and modeled after classical figures.  Iconography: The story that this painting portrays is "Echo and Narcissus" related by Roman poet Ovid in his collection Metamorphoses.  You can read this in Liaisons pages 53-57.
Context: This painting is probably the direct result of Giambattista Marino, the Italian court poet to Marie de Médicis commissioning of Poussin to make a series of mythological drawings illustrating Ovid's Metamorphoses.  Poussin's choice of the story is probably tied more to a Neoplatonic way of thinking about classicism.  The image is a warning rather than an endorsement about romantic love and this is where Poussin differed from his French counterparts interpretation of classical themes.

 

Nicolas Poussin, Bacchanal before a Statue of Pan 1631-33
Oil on canvas, 100 x 142,5 cm. National Gallery, London.
French Baroque
Form: This shares in many of the same qualities as the paintings above.  This painting incorporates intense or saturated colors and a full use of chiaroscuro, linear perspective and atmospheric perspective and the pastoral or arcadian landscape.  The composition of this image recalls friezes from ancient Roman and Greek buildings and Poussin's figures are also dressed and modeled after classical figures.  Iconography: This is the kind of image that Poussin might have seen in Italy either on a classical frieze or a pot.  Even though the image is "classical" it seems to me to be an almost sarcastic or moralizing way in which to depict it.  This painting seems almost to be a warning against hedonism
The theme this story that this painting portrays is a bacchanal
According to Webster's, 
bac.cha.na.lia n, pl bacchanalia [L, fr. Bacchus] (1591) 1 pl, cap: a Roman festival of Bacchus celebrated with dancing, song, and revelry 2: orgy 2, 3 -- bac.cha.na.lian adj or n 

This directly relates to the poem Ode on a Grecian Urn, John Keats in Liaisons pg. 233 and the Greek Tragedy Read the Greek Tragedy The Bacchae by Euripedes in Liaisons pp 58-87. Additional information about this play can be found at 
Read the poems below and see if you can relate it to the paintings above.

 
 
 
La ci darem la mano - Don Giovanni 1787  Mozart
G: La ci darem la mano,
La mi dirai di si!
Vedi, non e lontano
Partiam, ben mio, da qui! Z: Vorrei, e non vorrei;
Mi trema un poco il cor:
Felice, e ver sarei,
Ma puo burlarmi ancor.
G: Vieni nio bel diletto!
Z: Mi fa pieta Masetto.
G: Io changiero tua sorte.
Z: Presto, non son piu forte
.
G: Vieni! vieni! 
La ci darem la mano,
La mi dirai di si!
Z: Vorrei e non vorrei;
Mi trema un poco il cor.
Duetto:
Andiam, andiam mio bene,
A ristorar le pene
D'un innocente amor.

G: Then with your hand in mine, dear,
You'll whisper gently yes!
The castle's lord by yours dear,
Come, and lover bless! Z: I would, and yet I would not
My breast with terror heaves:
It would be the happiest lot,
Unless this lord deceives.
G: Come, then, with me, my beauty!
Z: Masetto claims my pity.
G: I wish to change your state, love.
Z: I yield myself to fate, love.
G: Come, then! Then with your hand
in mine, dear,
You'll whisper gently yes!
Z: I would, and yet I would nor;
My breast with terror heaves.
Together:
Then come, and share with me
the pleasure of innocence and love.



 
 
 
 
 
 

Lekythos with 
"Mistress and Maid" 
theme- c. 440 BC, Athens.
white-ground and 
black-figure decoration 
with touches of tempera,
15" tall 
Museum of Fine Art Boston
Classic, Greece

Muse of Mt. 
Lekythos Vase, 
5th century BCE, 10.5"
Ode on a Grecian Urn
John Keats. 1795-1821 THOU still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal--yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.
O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Christopher Marlowe c 1600 Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feeds their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kittle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold'
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.
The shepherd' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd
Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with the and be thy love.
Time drives the flocks from field to fold
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.
Thy gowns, the shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, the kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten--
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.
Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.
But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.

ar.ca.di.an adj, often cap (1589) 1: idyllically pastoral; esp: idyllically innocent, simple, or untroubled 2 a: of or relating to Arcadia or the Arcadians b: of or relating to Arcadian Ar.ca.di.an n (1590) 1 often not cap: a person who lives a simple quiet life 2: a native or inhabitant of Arcadia 3: the dialect of ancient Greek used in Arcadia According to the Brittanica,
Modern Greek ARKADHÍA, mountainous region of the central Peloponnesus of ancient Greece. The pastoral character of Arcadian life together with its isolation partially explains why it was represented as a paradise in Greek and Roman bucolic poetry and in the literature of the Renaissance. The region is not exactly coextensive with the present-day nomós (department) of Arkadhía, which extends on the east to the Gulf of Argolis. The capital of the nomos is Trípolis.
he.do.nism n [Gk hedone pleasure; akin to Gk hedys sweet--more at sweet] (1856) 1: the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life 2: a way of life based on or suggesting the principles of hedonism -- he.do.nist n -- he.do.nis.tic adj -- he.do.nis.ti.cal.ly adv
neo.clas.sic or neo.clas.si.cal adj (1877): of, relating to, or constituting a revival or adaptation of the classical esp. in literature, music, art, or architecture -- neo.clas.si.cism n -- neo.clas.si.cist n or adj
pas.to.ral adj [ME, fr. L pastoralis, fr. pastor herdsman] (15c) 1 a (1): of, relating to, or composed of shepherds or herdsmen (2): devoted to or based on livestock raising b: of or relating to the countryside: not urban c: portraying or expressive of the life of shepherds or country people esp. in an idealized and conventionalized manner <~ poetry> d: pleasingly peaceful and innocent: idyllic 2 a: of or relating to spiritual care or guidance esp. of a congregation b: of or relating to the pastor of a church -- pas.to.ral.ly adv -- pas.to.ral.ness n ²pastoral n (1584) 1 a: a literary work (as a poem or play) dealing with shepherds or rural life in a usu. artificial manner and typically drawing a contrast between the innocence and serenity of the simple life and the misery and corruption of city and esp. court life b: pastoral poetry or drama c: a rural picture or scene d: pastorale 1b 2: crosier 1 3: a letter of a pastor to his charge: as a: a letter addressed by a bishop to his diocese b: a letter of the house of bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church to be read in each parish
trompe l’oeil - (French: "deceive the eye"), in painting, the representation of an object with such verisimilitude as to deceive the viewer concerning the material reality of the object. This idea appealed to the ancient Greeks who were newly emancipated from the conventional stylizations of earlier art. Zeuxis, for example, reportedly painted such realistic grapes that birds tried to eat them. The technique was also popular with Roman muralists. Although trompe l’oeil never achieved the status of a major artistic aim, from the early Renaissance on, European painters occasionally fostered illusionism by painting false frames out of which the contents of a still life or portrait appeared to spill, or by creating window-like images suggesting actual openings in the wall or ceiling. (Brittanica)

 
     
Baroque French Classicism and the Rococo 17th to 18th Centuries
 
These two paintings are both Baroque renderings of aristocrats from the 1600 to 1700's.  One of them represents the older more autocratic traditions of Europe but both are the results of the "Enlightenment." The way in which they are portrayed are important clues as to how each of these rulers ruled there people and how they saw the world.  You will be given an assignment in which you will be asked to compare and contrast these two paintings and come up with some conclusions as to how each ruler is portrayed formally and iconographically.  You will be asked what this might mean about each ruler and the manner in which they governed.
Antoine Watteau. L' Indifferent 1716 
Oil on canvas 10''x7'' Located in Louvre, Paris
French Rococo
Hyacinthe Rigaud Louis XIV 1701 
Oil on canvas 9'2''x7'' Located in Louvre, Paris
French Baroque


 

Nicolas Poussin, Bacchanal before a Statue of Pan 1631-33
Oil on canvas, 100 x 142,5 cm. National Gallery, London.
French Baroque
Context:  This painting was executed just before Louis XIV came into his prime.  It represent both formally and iconographically a point of view that is in some ways similar but still different than the Rococo period.  In some ways classical images from the Baroque were a bit more "platonic" in nature than during the Rococo. Form: This painting is Baroque and in some ways it is the model for the paintings of the Rococo period.  This painting incorporates intense or saturated colors and a full use of chiaroscuro, linear perspective and atmospheric perspective and the pastoral or arcadian landscape.  The composition of this image recalls friezes from ancient Roman and Greek buildings and Poussin's figures are also dressed and modeled after classical figures. 
Iconography: The iconography of this painting is also somewhat the model for the Rococo paintings that follow.  It is the kind of image that Poussin might have seen in Italy either on a classical frieze or a pot.  Even though the image is "classical" it seems to me to be an almost sarcastic or moralizing way in which to depict it.  This painting seems almost to be a warning against hedonism
The theme this story that this painting portrays is a bacchanal
According to Webster's, 
bac.cha.na.lia n, pl bacchanalia [L, fr. Bacchus] (1591) 1 pl, cap: a Roman festival of Bacchus celebrated with dancing, song, and revelry 2: orgy 2, 3 -- bac.cha.na.lian adj or n 
The Rococo style is a substyle of the French Baroque and really only exists from about 1716 to the 1770's at which time it fell out of style.  Webster's defines rococo as,
ro.co.co n (1840): rococo work or style ²rococo adj [F, irreg. fr. rocaille rocaille] (1841) 1 a: of or relating to an artistic style esp. of the 18th century characterized by fanciful curved asymmetrical forms and elaborate ornamentation b: of or relating to an 18th century musical style marked by light gay ornamentation and departure from thorough-bass and polyphony 2: excessively ornate or intricate
In terms of its form, the Rococo style is uses a lot of pastel colors which are various pale or light colors, such as powder blue, peaches and pinks.  The brushwork in many Rococo style paintings tends to be feathery and or rough.  Usually the paintings look a bit more like oil sketches and have a rough or unfinished look to them.  The compositions also tend to be a bit looser and not very symmetrical. In terms of iconography and subject matter, Rococo paintings do deal with classical themes but the stories emphasize less dignified themes such as love and romantic indiscretion, in short, the "Dangerous Liaison."   Stokstad points out that one of the main subjects of the Rococo style was the fête galante.
 
¹fete n [ME fete, fr. MF, fr. OF feste--more at feast] (15c) 1: festival 2 a: a lavish often outdoor entertainment b: a large elaborate party ²fete vt fet.ed ; fet.ing (1819) 1: to honor or commemorate with a fete 2: to pay high honor to
fete cham.pe.tre n, pl fetes champetres [F, lit., rural festival] (1774): an outdoor entertainment

Many of the images in Rococo art are borrowed from opera and Commedia dell'arte.  According to the Brittanica,
Around the mid-16th century, there emerged in Italy a lively tradition of popular theatre that fused many disparate elements into a vigorous style, which profoundly influenced the development of European theatre. This was the legendary commedia dell'arte ("theatre of the professionals"), a nonliterary tradition that centred on the actor, as distinguished from the commedia erudita, where the writer was preeminent. Although the precise origins of the commedia dell'arte are difficult to establish, its many similarities with the skills of the medieval jongleurs, who were themselves descendants of the Roman mimes, suggest that it may have been a reawakening of the fabula Atellana, stimulated and coloured by social conditions in Italy during the Renaissance. In spite of its outwardly anarchic spirit, the commedia dell'arte was a highly disciplined art requiring both virtuosity and a strong sense of ensemble playing. Its special quality came from improvisation. Working from a scenario that outlined the plot, the actors would improvise their own dialogue, striving for a balance of words and actions. Acrobatics and singing were also used, as well as the lazzi (special rehearsed routines that could be inserted into the plays at convenient points to heighten the comedy). Because the actors stayed together in permanent companies and specialized in playing the same role for most of their professional lives, they achieved a degree of mastery that had been hitherto unknown on the Italian stage and that must have made the rest of the theatre seem all the more artificial. Another reason for the impact of the commedia dell'arte was that it heralded the first appearance in Italy of professional actresses (the best known being Isabella Andreini), though the female characters were never as sharply developed as their male counterparts. Most of the characters were defined by the leather half-masks they wore (another link with the theatre of antiquity), which made them instantly recognizable. They also spoke in the dialect of their different provinces. Characters such as Pantalone, the miserly Venetian merchant; Dottore Gratiano, the pedant from Bologna; or Arlecchino, the mischievous servant from Bergamo, began as satires on Italian "types" and became the archetypes of many of the favourite characters of 17th- and 18th-century European theatre.
From humble beginnings, setting up their stages in city squares, the better troupes--notably Gelosi, Confidenti, and Fedeli--performed in palaces and became internationally famous once they traveled abroad. The commedia dell'arte swept through Europe. It was particularly popular in France, where resident Italian troupes were established before the end of the 16th century. Local variations on the characters appeared in the 17th century. The cheeky servant Pedrolino became the melancholy Pierrot in France, while Pulcinella became Punch in England. By the 18th century the commedia dell'arte was a lost art, though its spirit lived on through the work of the dramatists it inspired, among whom were Molière (stage name of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin), Carlo Goldoni, and William Shakespeare.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Contextually the Rococo style occurred mainly at a time when the aristocracy was fairly indifferent to ruling and more interested in having fun and enjoying the pleasures of life.  These excesses of the aristocracy ultimately lead to the downfall of the aristocratic class in France and the overthrow of the French monarchy in 1789.
Jean Antoine Watteau. Pilgrimage to the Island of Cythera
1717 oil/canvas 4'3"x6'4" Louvres, Paris
French Rococo
Nicolas Poussin Echo and Narcissus 1630
French Baroque Compare Watteau's painting of a pastoral and classical image to Poussin's 
treatment of the same kind of image.  Think about how the form and the subject
matter are at once different and the same.  Why do you think these differences
exist?
Read the two poems below and see if you can find any parallels between the 
two poems and the two paintings.  How are they alike and how are 
they different?
Form: Watteau's palette consists mainly of pastel colors which are various pale or light colors, such as powder blue, peaches and pinks.  The brushwork is feathery and or rough and the composition is asymmetrical. The main line of figures that moves across the foreground are arranged almost musically in uneven undulating intervals that weaves in and out of the Baroque diagonal created by the landscape they inhabit.
Iconography and Context according to the Brittanica,
 
Watteau's Cythera.
In 1712 Watteau tried once more to go to Italy. He did not succeed, but he was accepted by the Académie as a painter of fêtes galantes--outdoor entertainments in which the courtiers often dressed in rural costumes--for his presentation of a scene depicting actors in a garden. Between 1710 and 1712 he had painted the first of his three versions of the "L'Embarquement pour l'île de Cythère." The myth of the island of Cythera, or of love, has distant roots in French and Italian culture, in which the journey is depicted as a difficult quest. Watteau's Cythera, by comparison, is a paradise wavering in the ephemeral and in artifice; it represents an invitation to delights amid the enchantment of nature. It is an island toward which the pilgrims embark but never arrive, preserving it preserves its light only if it remains far on the horizon. Watteau's first version of the subject is anecdotal: it illustrates a comedy motif in a vaguely Venetian ambience. The second--which is the most beautiful--has the aspect of a profane ritual in an unreal, immense, and almost frighteningly empty landscape. In the third, in which cherubim flutter around a golden gondola, the subject has become vulgarized. Common to all three versions is a theatrical, almost scenographic, composition, a chromatic transposition of all that is suggested in the theatrical universe. The wonderlands of opera, romance, and epic are all evoked by Watteau's Cythera, which represents the country of the impossible dream, the revenge of madness on reason, and of freedom on rules and morality. According to one hypothesis, the theme was suggested to Watteau by a prose play, Les Trois Cousines (1700), by Florent Dancourt, in the finale of which a group of country youths, disguised as pilgrims of love, prepare to embark on the voyage to the island of Cythera. Since this story of rustic millers is parodistic in intent and quite different from the refined scene that Watteau set in an unreal Venice, it is more probable that Watteau was inspired by an opéra ballet of Houdar de la Motte, La Vénitienne (1705), in which the invitation to the island of love includes not only the pilgrims of Cythera but also the stock characters of the commedia dell'arte--that is, both of the great themes that Watteau pursued all his life.
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Christopher Marlowe c 1600 Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feeds their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kittle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold'
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me, and be my love.
The shepherd' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd
Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with the and be thy love.
Time drives the flocks from field to fold
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.
Thy gowns, the shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, the kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten--
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.
Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.
But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Swing 1766 
Oil on canvas 35''x32''  Wallace Collection, London
French Rococo
Form:  Fragonard's palette is almost exactly the same as Watteau's.  It too consists mainly of pastel colors which are various pale or light colors, such as powder blue, peaches and pinks.  The brushwork is feathery and or rough and the composition is asymmetrical. The main line of figures that moves across the foreground are arranged almost musically in uneven undulating intervals that weaves in and out of the Baroque diagonal created by the landscape they inhabit.
Iconography:  Fragonard uses a combination of contemporary 18th century eroticism and classical themes.  The scene here is almost one that you might find in a movie or novel such as Moll Flanders, Dangerous Liaisons, or the Affair of the Necklace
The painting The Swing was commissioned by the treasurer et the French clergy. The client wanted a scene in which a lover - who can be seen amongst the rose bushes in the left foreground - would have an opportunity to look under the skirts of his mistress; originally the swing was supposed to be pushed by a bishop. But when, owing to its piquant nature, the commission was given to Fragonard, he replaced the bishop with a gardener.
(quoted from http://www.op.net/~uarts/lin/we_e_roco_1.html)
The sculpture of Cupid and the two putti that hide in the bushes are an attempt in some ways to "dress up" the images with a classical touch.  The cupid presses his fingers to his lips as if to warn the young woman to be less obvious as she kicks her shoe off playfully. Fragonard also attempts to show his knowledge not just of classicism but also of art history with his playful nod to Michelangelo's Adam echoed in the pose of the young man who looks up his lover's skirts.

 


Jean-Honoré Fragonard, 1732-1806 
The Meeting, from Love of the Shepherds
1771-73 o/c 10'x7' New York, Frick Museum
Form:  In terms of form, this image is a perfect example of the Rococo style according to Stokstad's description of it. Iconography:  The works symbolism is almost completely clear even if one is not familiar with the exact story expressed by the series the Love of the Shepherds.  Here is a typical "dangerous liaison" as expressed in the two poems above by Marlowe and Raleigh.  The scene is a pastoral one, in fact the boy in red silk is the shepherd who vaults lightly over the low wall to meet his wary girlfriend.  Above them, almost in a decaying state because it is so overgrown, is a statue of Venus and Cupid.
The imagery is taken from a variety of literary, theatrical, and operatic sources.  In many of the novels of the period, such as in Dangerous Liaisons, letter writing is an important plot element and in this painting we see that the young woman holds a love letter in her hand.  The young man has just climbed a ladder is a reference to many of Shakespeare's balcony scenes from Romeo to Cyrano as well as scenes from operas such as Mozart's Don Giovanni and Commedia dell'arte.
Context:  Fragonard is the last of the great Rococo painters.  His style, which represents the last style developed by Louis XVI during his reign (1774-93) of Louis XVI, according to the Brittanica,
 
was actually both a last phase of Rococo and a first phase of Neoclassicism. The predominant style in architecture, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts was Neoclassicism, a style that had come into its own during the last years of Louis XV's life, chiefly as a reaction to the excesses of the Rococo but partly through the popularity of the excavations at ancient Herculaneum and Pompeii, in Italy, and partly on the basis of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's call for "natural" virtue and honest sentiment. One of the most dramatic episodes in the stylistic oscillation from Rococo to Neoclassicism was played out in 1770 at Mme du Barry's Pavillon de Louveciennes. A series of large painted canvases by the Rococo painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard depicting the "Progress of Love" were removed almost as soon as they were installed and replaced with a series commissioned from Joseph-Marie Vien, a Neoclassicist. Vien's pupil Jacques-Louis David was the most important painter of the reign of Louis XVI; his severe compositions recalling the style of the earlier painter Nicolas Poussin are documents extolling republican virtues. During the Revolution, David was a deputy and voted for the execution of the King.

 

François Boucher, Brown Odalisk 1745 Oil on canvas
Musée du Louvre, Paris
François Boucher, Girl Reclining (Louise O'Murphy) 1751
Oil on canvas, 59,5 x 73,5 cm
Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne
Form:  These are small paintings in which Boucher demonstrates his ability to paint the textures of skin, fabric and porcelain.  Iconography:  Titian in his The Venus of Urbino, 1538 offers the male viewer a classisizing excuse for gazing on the female form, however, Boucher makes no such excuse for his painting.  This is most obviously this is a semi pornographic painting meant for a male audience.  Despite the fact that images like this have been defended as beautiful renderings of the human form, these images are overtly meant to be small erotic works that would have been hung in the bedroom to stimulate the sexual appetites of the occupants.
What is more interesting about these two images is that they also juxtapose the eroticized female form with commodities or luxury items.  By playing the textures and body of the female against expensive persian carpets, fabrics, jewels and porcelain, the artist is also making the human female form another commodity which can be bought and sold.  In this way, the wealth of the patron is also eroticized.  This device is played off again and again throughout the history of art.
Context:  These two images are also historical artifacts that document two facts.  The first is that Marie-Louise O' Murphy was one of the many mistresses of Louis XV and the brown odalisk is a reference to the French penchant for exotic women. 
According to the O'Murphy surnames website:
The most notable woman bearing the Murphy name was the famous courtesan Marie Louise O Murphy (1737 - 1814), fifth daughter of an Irish soldier who had taken up shoemaking in Rouen, France. After his death, their mother brought the family to Paris where she traded in old clothes while finding her daughters work as actresses or models. Marie Louise posed for Boucher, a painter at court. He painted her so attractively that she came to the notice of Louis XV, who soon appointed her his mistress. Their child is supposed to have been General de Beaufranchet. She married three times and was divorced by her third husband, who was thirty years her junior. For a period during the reign of terror, she suffered imprisonment because of her royal connections.
This is one of the first instances that I know of that an artist has painted an odalisk in France.  An odalisk or odalisque is a Turkish harem girl.  Images of asian or oriental nude harem girls become the fashion in French art from this point forward.  We'll see many more of these white European male's fantasies of eroticized asian women from now on.  Images of the odalisque most likely symbolize the male French view of the world and in some ways both justify and inflame their desire to colonize the so called "orient."

ar.ca.di.an adj, often cap (1589) 1: idyllically pastoral; esp: idyllically innocent, simple, or untroubled 2 a: of or relating to Arcadia or the Arcadians b: of or relating to Arcadian Ar.ca.di.an n (1590) 1 often not cap: a person who lives a simple quiet life 2: a native or inhabitant of Arcadia 3: the dialect of ancient Greek used in Arcadia According to the Brittanica,
Modern Greek ARKADHÍA, mountainous region of the central Peloponnesus of ancient Greece. The pastoral character of Arcadian life together with its isolation partially explains why it was represented as a paradise in Greek and Roman bucolic poetry and in the literature of the Renaissance. The region is not exactly coextensive with the present-day nomós (department) of Arkadhía, which extends on the east to the Gulf of Argolis. The capital of the nomos is Trípolis.
au.to.crat.ic also au.to.crat.i.cal adj (1823) 1: of, relating to, or being an autocracy: absolute 2: characteristic of or resembling an autocrat: despotic -- au.to.crat.i.cal.ly adv
fete n [ME fete, fr. MF, fr. OF feste--more at feast] (15c) 1: festival 2 a: a lavish often outdoor entertainment b: a large elaborate party ²fete vt fet.ed ; fet.ing (1819) 1: to honor or commemorate with a fete 2: to pay high honor to
fete cham.pe.tre n, pl fetes champetres [F, lit., rural festival] (1774): an outdoor entertainment
he.do.nism n [Gk hedone pleasure; akin to Gk hedys sweet--more at sweet] (1856) 1: the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life 2: a way of life based on or suggesting the principles of hedonism -- he.do.nist n -- he.do.nis.tic adj -- he.do.nis.ti.cal.ly adv
neo.clas.sic or neo.clas.si.cal adj (1877): of, relating to, or constituting a revival or adaptation of the classical esp. in literature, music, art, or architecture -- neo.clas.si.cism n -- neo.clas.si.cist n or adj
oda.lisque n [F, fr. Turk odalik, fr. oda room] (ca. 1681) 1: a female slave 2: a concubine in a harem
pas.to.ral adj [ME, fr. L pastoralis, fr. pastor herdsman] (15c) 1 a (1): of, relating to, or composed of shepherds or herdsmen (2): devoted to or based on livestock raising b: of or relating to the countryside: not urban c: portraying or expressive of the life of shepherds or country people esp. in an idealized and conventionalized manner <~ poetry> d: pleasingly peaceful and innocent: idyllic 2 a: of or relating to spiritual care or guidance esp. of a congregation b: of or relating to the pastor of a church -- pas.to.ral.ly adv -- pas.to.ral.ness n ²pastoral n (1584) 1 a: a literary work (as a poem or play) dealing with shepherds or rural life in a usu. artificial manner and typically drawing a contrast between the innocence and serenity of the simple life and the misery and corruption of city and esp. court life b: pastoral poetry or drama c: a rural picture or scene d: pastorale 1b 2: crosier 1 3: a letter of a pastor to his charge: as a: a letter addressed by a bishop to his diocese b: a letter of the house of bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church to be read in each parish
trompe l’oeil - (French: "deceive the eye"), in painting, the representation of an object with such verisimilitude as to deceive the viewer concerning the material reality of the object. This idea appealed to the ancient Greeks who were newly emancipated from the conventional stylizations of earlier art. Zeuxis, for example, reportedly painted such realistic grapes that birds tried to eat them. The technique was also popular with Roman muralists. Although trompe l’oeil never achieved the status of a major artistic aim, from the early Renaissance on, European painters occasionally fostered illusionism by painting false frames out of which the contents of a still life or portrait appeared to spill, or by creating window-like images suggesting actual openings in the wall or ceiling. (Brittanica)