Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassicism: Comparison and Contrast Essay

768 Words Aug 17th, 2012 4 Pages
Rococo was an art style that originated in France in the mid-17th century. Rococo itself evolved from the earlier Baroque period, and shared several elements with it. Indeed, Rococo is often referred to as Late Baroque for this reason. Both placed a heavy emphasis on ornate, highly sculpted detail and ornamentation, especially in regards to architecture and sculpture. Likewise both featured artwork rooted in more realistic depictions of people. However, they were also different in several important ways, and reflected changing social attitudes. Where Baroque was rooted in religion and promoted by the Catholic Church as a response to the Protestant Reformation, Rococo flourished during the “Age of Enlightenment”, a time where …show more content…
Artwork returned to classic moral and ethical themes like heroism, honor, and military duty, and was articulated strongly, with many artworks depicting realistic characters in bold color against dark backgrounds.

When considering the differences between the Rococo and Neoclassic styles, it is striking how completely different they are from each other. In the area of architecture, it is easy to see how they diverge when looking at examples of the styles. The Ottobeuren Abbey in Bavaria, Germany is a true embodiment of Rococo with its countless gilded, vapor-like coils of plaster and stone, bright, playful colors, and heavily sculpted décor. The United States Supreme Court, a familiar study in Neoclassic architecture, is the polar opposite. Someone viewing its stately, symmetrical shape, understated coloration with an emphasis on natural materials like marble, and towering, stately pillars may wonder if it came from the same planet as the abbey in Germany.

Artwork, too, was just as divergent. Consider the Rococo masterpiece The Swing, by artist Jean-Honoré Fragonard. The delicate coiling of the tree branches, the ruffling of the fabric and lace on the subject’s dress, and the play of light and shadow in this painting of a woman on a swing in the forest are all visual hallmarks of the Rococo style. Again, contrast with a Neoclassic masterpiece Oath of the Horatii by Jacques-Louis David. This work, which shows
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