Rococo Art: Definition, Style & Artists

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Rule of Thirds in Photography: Definition & Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Rococo Art
  • 1:02 Characteristics
  • 2:12 Rococo Artists & Paintings
  • 4:15 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Martin
In this lesson, you will learn what Rococo art is and how to identify it based on its stylistic characteristics. To bring the concept of Rococo to life, we will look at a few well-known paintings by famous Rococo artists.

‚Äč!!!What is Rococo?

As much as the word 'Rococo' sounds like the opening line of Lady Gaga's next hit single, it is actually a term used to describe a popular movement in art history. In this lesson, you will learn about the origins of Rococo art and what its defining characteristics are. We will also put the definition of the Rococo into practice by looking at a few examples of famous Rococo paintings.

Rococo art emerged in France as a decorative art used in interior design and gardens, but painters began to adopt the style in the early eighteenth century. French royalty and the elite embraced artwork that celebrated love, leisure, and fashion in a way that was light, sumptuous, and even erotic. Rococo paintings decorated rooms in ornate homes of the aristocracy where members of high society would gather for intellectual discussions and entertainment. Though Rococo started in France, its influence quickly spread to artists and architects in England, Italy, and Germany.


How can you tell whether or not a painting is part of the Rococo movement? Rococo artists used loose brush strokes, pastel colors, and flowing lines and forms in their compositions, regardless of a painting's subject matter. Many Rococo paintings are asymmetrical, meaning the design or overall composition is off-center. Each of these elements helps to create a sense of motion and playfulness within a painting.

Rococo artists often painted mythological scenes set in utopian landscapes, portraits, and depictions of love. The first Rococo painter, Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721), was responsible for the creation of a new type of artistic category called amorous festival paintings, or fête galante. Fête galante paintings are depictions of aristocrats enjoying various forms of outdoor recreation in the countryside.

Today, we find entertainment through television or movies. In a similar way, those who commissioned Rococo paintings wanted their artworks to be visual escapes that would help viewers forget about the mundane in life and celebrate leisure and pleasure.

Rococo Artists & Paintings

Jean-Antoine Watteau, The Pilgrimage to Cythera (1717), Louvre, Paris.
Watteau, The Pilgrimage to Cythera (1717)

Jean-Antoine Watteau's masterpiece, The Pilgrimage to Cythera (1717), is the most famous example of a fête galante painting. The Pilgrimage depicts several couples who have journeyed together to Cythera, the idyllic place of love and eternal youth. A statue of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, emphasizes the painting's amorous subject matter. The lush landscape, warm colors, and joyful subject matter seen in this painting appealed to the French elite.

Francois Boucher, Saint Peter Attempting to Walk on Water (1766), Cathedrale Saint-Louis, Versailles, France.
Boucher, Saint Peter Attempting to Walk on Water (1766)

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account