Rocaille and Rococo

Invented by the decorators Oppenord, Meissonier and Pinault, the Rocaille ornaments are key elements of the Regence style and the Louis XV style. Shells and plants thus invade the decoration, transforming themselves according to the caprices of dreams into abstract and eventful forms.

The Rocaille ornaments are hence the French expression, in the decorative arts, of the late Baroque exuberances throughout Europe. In the nineteenth century, art historians forged a new term from "Baroco" and Rocaille to designate this European aesthetic of the eighteenth century: the Rococo.

Rocaille or Rococo, objects with capricious forms in the taste of the Louis XV style can often be described as both. More precise, however, we will prefer to speak of Rocaille for asymmetrical ornaments, evoking natural forms. These dreamlike forms continued to seduce in the nineteenth century as witnesses the success of François Linke and Leon Messager, to name but a few. Finally, the Art Nouveau also retains the lessons of these turbulent lines.

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