Review Notes Rococo

Review Notes

Versailles and Rococo Art 

Vocabulary Words:

1.      Contrapposto (Con-trah-POST-toe):  the position of a human figure where the weight is on one leg, with twisting of the body on its vertical axis; sometimes called a weight shift

2.      Greco-Roman ideal: bodies have perfect symmetry & proportion; no wrinkles or other flaws

3.      Hall of Mirrors:  240 ft. long hallway added in 1678; the interior wall opposite windows lined with Venetian glass the same size/shape as the arched windows

4.      Fete galante (fayt gah-LAHNT): a frivolous [playful] painting showing an outdoor romp with “elegantly-attired young people”

5.      Grotto (GRAH-toe):  a cave

6.      Repousse’ (REE-poo-SAY): creating a metal relief by hammering and/or burnishing (rubbing)

7.      Bas-relief (BAH ree-leaf): a French term meaning “low-raised work,” where the forms stand out from the background  

Rococo Period:  1720 - 1800  

Characteristics of Rococo Art:

·         Started in Paris

·         Coincided with the reign of Louis XV

·         Interior decoration & architecture (floors, furniture, china, clothing, jewelry, walls)

·         “S” shapes, ribbons, flowery shapes

·         NO squares or straight lines  

Artworks to know (and why they are important):  (NOTE:  All artworks can be found by going to and typing in the name of the artwork on the home page) 


  • Hyacinthe Rigaud—Portrait of King Louis XIV
  • Gianlorenzo Bernini—Sculpture of King Louis XIV 


  • “The Meeting”--an example of fete galante
  • “The Swing”--one of his most famous paintings (because it was "scandalous") 

BY Elisabeth VIGEE-LEBRUN (portrait painter to Marie Antoinette):           

  • “Portrait of Madame du Barry:” she was the mistress of King Louis XV           
  • “Marie Antoinette and Her Children:” an “official portrait, contrary to the custom to be shown with children; Marie thought this portrait would make her more popular; cradle draped in black because their baby daughter Sophie died while the portrait was being painted; the dauphin, Louis-Joseph, stands at the cradle; Louis XVII is on her lap 

BY Adelaide LABILLE-GUIARD (portrait painter to Marie Antoinette):           

  • “Madame Adelaide de France:” this painting is of one of Louis XVI’s aunts; kept at Versailles; she hoped this painting would win her the French Art Academy’s highest honor  


      A hunting lodge

      Transformed into the largest palace in the world

      a tribute to King Louis XIV

      1682-1789—home to all French monarchs & families (“official” in 1682)

      The “Hall of Mirrors:”  A 240-foot long waiting room in between the War Gallery & the Peace Gallery

      front entrance to Versailles:  2 gates; the 2nd gate was destroyed during the Revolution; gates were locked at night but not during the day; those too poor or not allowed to have a hat & sword could rent those for an audience with the King

      Guard room: 24 guards lived here all the time

      Visitors had a written guide for the art

      Mars’ Salon:  a ballroom; largest room in King’s apartments

      Louis XV:  had the first roll-top desk created for him; Rococo-style astronomical clock; Mozart plays for him

      Marie Antoinette’s symbols:  the Hapsburg eagle, the rose, & the peacock

      85% of the pieces of the original hydraulic system in the fountains at Versailles are still working

      The “Mirror Room” is at the Petite Trianon, which King Louis XVI gave to Marie Antoinette; mirrors cranked up to cover the windows

      The outdoor courtyard  in Petite Trianon is tiled