Rococo art was an important element of French culture during the ancien regime. The style is highly suggestive of the attitudes and atmosphere in the royal court during the period leading up to the French Revolution. In this activity students will read about four rococo painters and how they experienced the shift from rococo to neoclassicism, and from the ancien regime to the era of the French Revolution.
Students will go to the Ancien Regime Rococo Web site to read about rococo painters and answer questions about their work. They will then focus on two prominent women painters and the impact of politics on their work and livelihood. Students will explain that impact in writing and cite their own example of the impact of political and social attitudes on art or literature.
- Students will be able to compare different artists of the rococo period and relate their activities to the time period in which they lived.
- Students will be able to apply what they have learned by comparing attitudes toward two women artists with attitudes toward artists or writers of another time period.
Student Web Activity Answers
- Rococo art can be described as art that focused on aristocratic scenes that were delicate, playful, and sometimes provocative.
- Rococo art was often criticized for being superficial and escapist because it depicted scenes that were charming and decorative, but—at least to later generations—unrealistic.
- Boucher had fallen out of favor by the early 1770s. With the rise of neoclassicism, his style was criticized for being overly sentimental and too easily achieved.
- According to the author, Fragonard's painting are, at times, almost abstract. The same is not said about the works of Boucher.
- Students' essays will vary. Both women worked for aristocrats and people in the royal court. However, unlike Vigée-Lebrun, Labille-Guiard was able to remain part of the French art world after the revolution because she had been a supporter of reform and had identified with the revolution, even painting some of the French revolutionary figures. Vigée-Lebrun, although widely regarded as the better artist, had to flee France because of her reputation as a supporter of the monarchy and the aristocracy. Students' comparisons to other examples of art and literature will vary.
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