If the famous artists of the Baroque art movement were prone to use ornamental and dramatic elements, then the artists of the movement that followed it took it a step further.
Rococo originated in France in the 1730s and was characterized by the element of surprise using Bramante’s trompe l’oeil in frescoes, as well as theatrical elements to create an abundant sense of drama.
The movement, which is sometimes called “Late Baroque,” was originally referred to as “style rocaille” and defined the exuberant decorations created in response to the self-glorifying “Style Louis XIV,” a style which was used extensively used at the Palace of Versailles.
After engulfing France, the style became an art movement that quickly spread to other parts of Europe, including northern Italy, Austria, southern Germany, many parts of Central Europe, and even Russia.
So who were the most famous Rococo artists?
Let’s take a closer look!
1. Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806) was one of the most prolific Rococo artists of his time with over 550 paintings credited to him. he was active in the final years of the Ancien Régime before the French Revolution broke out in 1789. His style is characterized by exuberance and a sense of intimacy.
One of the most remarkable facts about Fragonard is that he was nearly completely forgotten, only for his work to be rediscovered in 1873, multiple decades after he passed away. Right now, he’s considered to be one of the ultimate artists of French art.
2. François Boucher
François Boucher (1703-1770) is another French painter who defined the Rococo art movement with voluptuous and decorative paintings. He is by some considered to be one of the most famous Rococo artists of the 18th century and painted scenes ranging from classical themes to ornamental allegories.
He clearly drew inspiration from Baroque painters such as Peter Paul Rubens and wasn’t just limited to just painting but was also a successful tapestry designer and engraver. He decorated the royal palaces of Versailles, Fontainebleau, and Choisy with his unique designs multiple times.
3. Thomas Gainsborough
Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) was a British painter, draughtsman, and printmaker. He is famous for his fast pace in painting and therefore left a pretty extensive oeuvre of both portraits and landscape paintings. He preferred to paint landscapes and is considered to be the founder of the 18th-century British landscape school.
He can easily be considered one of the most prolific and renowned British artists of the second half of the 18th century and was a founding member of the Royal Academy, an art institution based in Piccadilly in London that was founded in the year 1768.
4. Jean-Marc Nattier
Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766) is arguably one of the most famous portrait painters of the 18th century, for the very reason that he was the court painter of King Louis XV and therefore painter numerous portraits of the ladies living at the palace.
His work was greatly appreciated as he possessed the unique talent to beautify the sitters while at the same time keeping the appearance of the models extremely realistic. While he painted various court ladies, including for example the King’s mistress Madame de Pompadour, he also painted a portrait of Russian Tsar Peter I in 1717 during his visit to the Palace of Versailles, which would become the inspiration for his Peterhof Palace.
5. Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun
Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842) was another famous French portrait painter who painted various paintings of members of the Royal family. She was a prominent member of the Ancien Régime and the personal portrait painter of Marie Antoinette, depicting the French Queen multiple times.
She was also one of the most prolific painters of her time, creating at least 660 portraits and 220 landscapes. her paintings are on display in some of the biggest museums in the world, including the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
6. Jean-Antoine Watteau
Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) is commonly known as Antoine Watteau and is considered to be one of the earliest Rococo artists who literally revitalized the Baroque art movement. He is credited with the invention of the “fêtes galantes,” paintings of theatrical parties that became extremely popular and inspired a lot of future artists.
His influence on the art of the 18th century, in general, was second to none, and even though he suffered from poor health for the most part of his adult life, he left his permanent mark on the world of art as both an artist and an inspiration for future generations!