Rococo Style: Characteristics, Origins, and Examples

If you love ornate and extravagant designs, then chances are you’ll appreciate the Rococo style. Rococo, also known as Late Baroque, was a highly decorative and flamboyant art movement that originated in France in the early eighteenth century and is best known for its lavish and intricate designs.

In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the Rococo era, explore its characteristics, and compare it to other art styles. We’ll also look at some of the most famous examples of Rococo art and architecture.

What is the Rococo Style?

The Rococo style is characterized by its elaborate ornamentation, soft colors and asymmetrical designs that are both playful and whimsical. This style was most prominent in Europe from the early 18th to the mid-18th century. Unlike Baroque art which was more serious in nature, Rococo art was designed to be lighthearted and entertaining.

Some of the notable characteristics that define the Rococo style include:

  • Elaborate ornamentation
  • “S” shaped curves and asymmetrical designs
  • Soft colors and pastels
  • Scenes from everyday life
  • Emphasis on nature and the outdoors
  • Symmetry was not emphasized
  • Attention to detail

Baroque vs Rococo Style

Baroque art and architecture were the immediate predecessors of Rococo, and the two styles have some similarities. Both styles are heavily ornate, often featuring intricate scrollwork, asymmetrical designs, and deep colors.

The major difference between the two styles is that Baroque art was more focused on religious themes and was grander in scale. It often had a more serious, somber quality to it, and was associated with the power of the church and state.

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In contrast, Rococo was a freer and more playful style that was characterized by its lightness and whimsy. The Rococo era was a time when the wealthy wanted to show off their wealth and privilege by indulging in the arts.

Rococo Style Pronunciation

If you’re wondering how to pronounce Rococo, the correct pronunciation is “roh-koh-koh.”

Origin and Name

The Rococo style originated in France in the early 18th century and took its name from the French words “rocaille” and “coquille,” which mean “rock” and “shell” respectively.

The name Rococo was coined to describe the playful, swirling designs that characterized the style. These designs often featured shells, flowers, and leaves, as well as elaborate scrollwork and other forms of ornamentation.

Rococo Style: Most Closely Associated with Which Group?

The Rococo style was most closely associated with the aristocracy and the wealthy upper class. It was a symbol of wealth and privilege and was often used to decorate the salons of the wealthy.

In many ways, Rococo was a reaction against the more serious and rigid Baroque style that had come before it. It represented a desire for something more lighthearted and playful, something that would showcase the wealth and refinement of the aristocracy.

What did the Rococo Style Focus on?

The Rococo style focused on ornamentation and decoration. It was a time of indulgence and extravagance when the wealthy wanted to show off their wealth and privilege through the arts.

Rococo art often featured scenes from everyday life, such as picnics, garden parties, and seasonal festivals. It also emphasized nature and the outdoors, often incorporating pastoral scenes and landscapes into its designs.

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The style was highly detailed, with intricate scrollwork and elaborate forms of ornamentation. It was also characterized by its soft colors and pastel hues, which were meant to create a light and airy feeling.

Rococo Art Examples

There are many famous examples of Rococo art, from paintings and sculptures to decorative arts and furniture. Here are some of the most notable examples:


  • “The Swing,” by Jean-Honoré Fragonard
  • “The Bathers,” by Francois Boucher
  • “The Toilette of Venus,” by Francois Boucher
  • “The Proselyte” by Jean-Baptiste Greuze


  • “Cupid and Psyche,” by Etienne-Maurice Falconet
  • “Amour and Psyche,” by Antonio Canova
  • “Venus Italica,” by Antonio Canova

Decorative Arts:

  • Porcelain figurines, such as those produced by the Sèvres porcelain factory in France.
  • Gold snuff boxes with decorative engravings, like the ones made by the likes of Jean-Georges Rémond or Louis-Denis Potty in France.
  • Chandeliers like those created by many French manufacturers in the 18th century.


  • The furniture produced by the Parisian ébéniste (cabinet maker) Jean-Pierre Latz.
  • Commodes, cabinets, and wardrobes by Andre-Charles Boulle

Rococo Architecture Characteristics

Rococo architecture is known for its elaborate decoration, curved forms and asymmetrical designs. It incorporated many of the same features that were present in Rococo art, such as elaborate scrollwork, shells, and other natural forms.

One key characteristic of Rococo architecture was its use of light and shadow. Buildings were designed to maximize the amount of natural light that entered, creating a sense of openness and spaciousness.

Another important feature of Rococo architecture was its use of color and texture. Buildings were often painted in soft pastel colors, and a variety of decorative techniques, such as stucco, were used to create a rich and varied texture.

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Rococo vs Baroque

While Rococo is often seen as a continuation of the Baroque style, there are some important differences between the two.

Baroque architecture was grander in scale and often featured massive domes and sweeping staircases. In contrast, Rococo architecture was more playful and whimsical, with lighter, more delicate forms.

Additionally, Baroque architecture was often focused on religious themes, while Rococo architecture was more secular in nature. Rococo buildings were often used to display the wealth and privilege of the aristocracy, while Baroque buildings were designed to impress the power of the church and state.


The Rococo style may not be for everyone, but its flamboyant and decorative designs are a testament to the artistic and cultural excesses of the 18th century. While some may view it as frivolous and self-indulgent, it remains a fascinating and important chapter in the history of art and architecture.

Whether you are an art enthusiast or just looking for some inspiration for your home decor, the Rococo style offers a unique and fascinating perspective on the world of design.