Monday, November 4, 2013

Rococo (pt. 8)

At the time of the Seven Years' War, Louis XV was in power, and he was no exception to the aristocratic trend at that time for an opulent and immoral lifestyle.  He ordered the construction of a private house on the actual palace grounds solely for his mistresses to live in.  Not the least famous among his mistresses was Madame du Barry, who the king doted on with splendid gifts costing exorbitant amounts of money.  Another celebrated mistress of the king around this time (and probably the most memorable) was Madame de Pompadour, from which we derive the English word today for a pompadour.  As the king's chief mistress for almost twenty years, she was the most popular lady in France and also the leader of French fashion and style.  Her portrait here shows her extravagantly dressed in rich colors, the very image of splendor.
Even though she was the king's mistress, she is painted here as the most beautiful and refined woman of social standing.  Paintings like this one go a long way in describing the general lack of morality and responsibility among the aristocracy at this time.  That is what Rococo is all about.  The style of art centers itself around the carefree lifestyle of the upper class.  Taking a supportive view of this way of life, art continues to positively showcase the immoral in a tone of lighthearted cleverness and dreamy sentimentality.  No paintings of war or great moments in church history pass very much noticed during the Rococo Period in France.  Few serious paintings are really produced at all.  The pervading atmosphere of art at this time is wistful, cheery, pleasant, and wholly frivolous.

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