National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

Tour: 18th-Century France — The Rococo and Watteau

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image of Diana and Endymion image of Three Figures Dressed for a Masquerade image of Jules-David Cromot, Baron du Bourg
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In 1715 the French greeted a new king for the first time in seventy-two years. Louis XV, a boy only five years old, succeeded his great-grandfather Louis XIV, the Sun King, who had made France the preeminent power in Europe. For the next eight years the late king's nephew, the duc d'Orléans, governed as regent. His appetite for beauty and vivaciousness was well known, and he set aside the piety enforced by Louis XIV at Versailles. France turned away from imperial aspirations to focus on more personal—and pleasurable—pursuits. As political life and private morals relaxed, the change was mirrored by a new style in art, one that was intimate, decorative, and often erotic.




1Antoine Watteau, Ceres (Summer), c. 1717/1718
2Antoine Watteau, The Italian Comedians, probably 1720
3Jean-Baptiste Joseph Pater, Fête Champêtre, c. 1730
4François Boucher, Madame Bergeret, possibly 1766
5Nicolas Lancret, La Camargo Dancing, c. 1730
6François Boucher, The Love Letter, 1750
7Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Diana and Endymion, c. 1753/1756
8Louis-Joseph Le Lorrain, Three Figures Dressed for a Masquerade, c. 1740s
9Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne II, Jules-David Cromot, Baron du Bourg, c. 1757