TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 

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  Baroque & Rococo

Baroque
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Rococo
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CONTENTS
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Rococo
 
 
 
PAINTING
Jean-Antoine Watteau
Nicolas Lancret
Francois Boucher
Jean-Honore Fragonard
Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin
Marie-Louise-Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun
William Hogarth
Allan Ramsay
Thomas Gainsborough
Joshua Reynolds
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Corrado Giaquinto
Canaletto
Bernardo Bellotto (Canaletto)
Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Pompeo Batoni
Francesco Guardi
Christophe-Gabriel Allegrain

Jean Baptiste Greuze
Allan Ramsay
George Stubbs
ARCHITECTURE AND SCULPTURE
Nicolas Pineau
Clodion (Claude Michel)
Jean-Baptiste Pigalle

Ange-Jacques Gabriel
Germain Boffrand
Jacques-Germain Soufflot
Etienne-Maurice Falconet
Louis Francois Roubiliac
John Wood the Elder
Johann Fischer von Erlach
Jakob Prandtauer
Balthasar Neumann
Dominikus Zimmermann
Johann Michael Fischer
Georg Rafael Donner
Franz Xavier Messerschmidt
Luigi Vanvitelli
Carlo Fontana
Giacomo Serpotta
Francesco Maria Schiaffino
Jean-Baptiste Oudry

William Kent
 
 
 
ARCHITECTURE AND SCULPTURE
 
 
 
Much as the Baroque is often considered the final phase of the Renaissance, so the Rococo has been treated as the end of the Baroque: a long twilight, delicious but decadent, that was cleaned away by the Enlightenment and Neoclassicism. In France, the Rococo is linked with Louis XV, to whose lifespan (1710-1774) it corresponds roughly in date. However, it cannot be identified with the absolutist state or the church any more than can the Baroque, even though these continued to provide the main patronage. Moreover, the essential characteristics of Rococo style were created before the king was born. Its first symptoms begin as much as 50 years earlier, during the lengthy transition that constitutes the Late Baroque. Nevertheless, the view of the Rococo as the final phase of the Baroque is not without basis: as the philosopher Francois-Marie Voltaire acknowledged, the eighteenth century lived in the debt of the past. In art, Poussin and Rubens cast their long shadows over the Rococo. The controversy between their partisans, in turn, goes back much further to the debate between the supporters of Michelangelo and of Titian over the merits of design versus color. In this sense, the Rococo, like the Baroque, still belongs to the Renaissance world.

To overemphasize the similarities and stylistic debt of the Rococo to the Baroque, however, risks ignoring a fundamental difference between them. What is it? In a word, it is fantasy. If the Baroque presents theater on a grand scale, the Rococo stage-is smaller, more intimate. At the same time, the Rococo is both more lighthearted and tender-minded, marked equally by playful whimsy and wistful nostalgia. Its artifice evokes an enchanted realm that presents a temporary diversion from real life. Because the modern age is the product of the Enlightenment that followed, it is still fashionable to denigrate the Rococo for its unabashed escapism and eroticism. To its credit, however, the Rococo discovered the world of love and broadened the range of human emotion in art to include, for the first time, the family as a major theme.


FRANCE

THE RISE OF THE ROCOCO.

After the death of Louis XIV, the centralized administrative machine that Colbert had created ground to a stop. The nobility, formerly attached to the court at Versailles, were now freer of royal surveillance. Many of them chose not to return to their ancestral chateaux in the provinces, but to live in Paris, where they built elegant town houses, known as hotels. As state-sponsored building activity was declining, the field of "design for private living" took on new importance. These city sites were usually cramped and irregular, so that they offered scant opportunity for impressive exteriors. Hence, the layout and decor of the rooms became the architects' main concern. The hotels demanded a style of interior decoration less grandiloquent and cumbersome than Lebrun's. They required instead an intimate, flexible style that would give greater scope to individual fancy uninhibited by classicistic dogma. French designers created the Rococo ("The Style of Louis XV," as it is often called in France) from Italian gardens and interiors to fulfill this need. The name fits well: it was coined as a caricature of coquillage and rocaille (echoing the Italian barocco), which meant the playful decoration of grottoes with irregular shells and stones.

The Decorative Arts

It was in the decorative arts that the Rococo flourished first and ioremost. We have not considered the decorative arts until now, because the conservative nature of the crafts permitted only limited creativity except to a few individuals of outstanding ability. But the latter half of the seventeenth century ushered in a period of unprecedented change in French design. A central role was played by Colbert, who in the 1660s acquired the Gobelins (named after the brothers who founded them) for the crown and turned them into royal works supplying luxurious furnishings, including tapestries, to the court under the direction of the king's chief artistic adviser, Charles Lebrun.

After 1688 the War of the League of Augsburg forced major economies on the crown, including reductions at the Gobelins that gradually loosened central control of the decorative arts and opened the way to new stylistic developments. Thus the situation paralleled the decline of the Academy's tyrannical influence over the fine arts, which gave rise to the Rococo in painting.

This does not explain the excellence of French decor, however. Critical to its development was the importance assigned to designers: their engravings established new standards of design that were expected to be followed by artisans, who thereby lost much of their independence. Let us note, too, the collaboration of architects, who became increasingly involved in the decoration of the rooms they designed. Together with sculptors, who often designed the ornamentation, they helped to elevate the decorative arts virtually to the level of the fine arts, thus establishing a tradition that continued into modern times. The decorative and fine arts intersected most clearly in major furniture. French cabinetmakers known as ebenistes (after ebony, their preferred wood veneer) helped to bring about the revolution in interior decor by introducing new materials and techniques. Many of these upstarts hailed originally from Holland, Flanders, Germany, and even Italy.

The decorative arts played a unique role during the Rococo. Hotel interiors were more than assemblages of objects. They were total environments put together with fastidious care by discerning collectors and the talented architects, sculptors, decorators, and dealers who catered to their taste. A room, like a single item of furniture, could involve the services of a wide variety of artisans—cabinetmakers, wood carvers, gold- and silversmiths, upholsterers, porcelain makers—all dedicated to producing the ensemble, even though each craft was, by tradition, a separate specialty subject to strict regulations. Together they fueled the insatiable hunger for novelty that swept Europe.


PINEAU.

Virtually none of these rooms has survived intact. Like the furniture they housed, most have been destroyed, heavily altered, or dispersed. We can nevertheless get a good idea of their appearance by the reconstruction of one such room from the Hotel de Varengeville, Paris, designed about 1735 by Nicolas Pineau (1684-1754) for the Duchesse de Villars. The sumptuous effect bears out the suggestion that the Rococo interior originated to provide a fit setting for women, who became the center of aristocratic society. The walls and ceiling are encrusted with ornamentation, and the elaborately carved furniture is adorned with gilt bronze. Everything swims in a sea of swirling patterns united by the most sophisticated sense of design and materials the world has ever known. Here there is no clear distinction between decoration and function, for example in the clock on the mantel and the statuette in the corner of our illustration. Note, too, how the paintings have been thoroughly integrated into the room.

Nicolas Pineau

Nicolas Pineau, (born Oct. 8, 1684, Paris—died April 24, 1754, Paris), French wood-carver and interior designer, a leader in the development of interior decorating in the light, asymmetric, lavishly decorated Rococo style.

After study with the architects François Mansart and Germain Boffrand, Pineau followed his father’s trade. His son, Dominique (1718–86), also became a wood sculptor.

One of a group of French artisans who were visiting the newly established city of St. Petersburg in 1716 at the invitation of Peter the Great, Pineau remained in Russia until about 1728, carving the tsar’s cabinet in the Peterhof palace and also serving as an architect and interior designer. Returning to Paris, he became an important designer, launching the vogue for Rococo rooms in private dwellings.

Pineau’s works are characterized by shallow recesses with rounded corners and ornamentation employing shell motifs, leafy scrolls, and classical busts in medallions. Later interior designers and architects were influenced by his engravings.
 



Nicolas Pineau.
Room from the Hotel de Varengeville, Paris.
ñ. 1735.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.



Clodion Claude Michel

Because so much of it was done to adorn interiors, French Rococo sculpture generally took the form of small groups in a "miniature Baroque" style, which were designed to be viewed at close range. A typical example is Satyr and Bacchante by Claude Michel (1738-1814), known as Clodion. Its coquettish eroticism is a playful echo of the ecstasies of Bernini, whose work he studied during a nine-year stay in Italy. Despite the fact that he undertook several
large decorative cycles, Clodion was by nature a modeler who was at his best working on a small scale. Able to work miracles with terracotta, he reigned supreme in this intimate realm.


Clodion Claude Michel. Satyr and Bacchante.
ñ. 1775. Terracotta, height 59 cm.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 
 
 
Claude Michel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Claude Michel, known as Clodion (December 20, 1738 – March 29, 1814), was a French sculptor in the Rococo style. He was born in Nancy. Here and probably in Lille he spent the earlier years of his life. In 1755 he came to Paris and entered the workshop of Lambert Sigisbert Adam, his maternal uncle, a clever sculptor. He remained four years in this workshop, and on the death of his uncle became a pupil of J. B. Pigalle. In 1759 he obtained the grand prize for sculpture at the Academic Royale; in 1761 he obtained the first silver medal for studies from models; and in 1762 he went to Rome. Here his activity was considerable between 1767 and 1771.

Catherine II was eager to secure his presence in St Petersburg, but he returned to Paris. Among his patrons, which were very numerous, were the chapter of Rouen, the states of Languedoc, and the Direction generale. His works were frequently exhibited at the Salon. In 1782 he married Catherine Flore, a daughter of the sculptor Augustin Pajou, who subsequently obtained a divorce from him. The agitation caused by the Revolution drove Clodion in 1792 to Nancy, where he remained until 1798, his energies being spent in the decoration of houses.

Among Clodion's works are a statue of Montesquieu, a Dying Cleopatra, and a chimneypiece at present in the South Kensington Museum. One of his last groups represented Homer as a beggar being driven away by fishermen (1810). Clodion died in Paris, on the eve of the invasion of Paris by the allies.

Among the public collections holding works by Claude Michel are the Art Institute of Chicago, the Bowes Museum (County Durham, UK), the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Courtauld Institute of Art (London), the Currier Museum of Art (New Hampshire), the Detroit Institute of Arts the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Frick Collection (New York City), the Getty Museum (Los Angeles), the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, Texas), Kunst Indeks Danmark, the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musée Cognacq-Jay (Paris), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Musée des Beaux-Arts (Bordeaux), National Museum of Art (Cluj-Napoca), the National Gallery of Armenia, the National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), the Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena, California) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

 
 
 
 
PIGALLE.

Monumental commissions for French Rococo sculptors were few. Lifesize statues were confined largely to decorative figures of nymphs, goddesses, and the like who are the counterparts to the mythological creatures in the paintings of Boucher and his followers (see below). The Tomb of the Marechal de Saxe by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (1714— 1785), Clodion's teacher and the most gifted sculptor of the era, shows that they could recapture something of Baroque grandeur when given the opportunity. The Marechal steps unafraid from a pyramid denoting immortality toward a casket held open for him by the beckoning figure of Death, as France tries vainly to intervene. He is mourned by the grief-stricken Hercules to the left, representing the French army, and, to the right, the weeping infant personifying the Genius of War, who extinguishes his torch before the fallen military standards. The strange menagerie to the left stands for the nations defeated by the Marechal in combat: Holland, England, and the Holy Roman Empire. If the allegory strikes us as heavy-handed, there can be no denying the effectiveness of the presentation, which is among the most astonishing in all of sculpture. The poses show the classicism requisite for official French art, but the spirit of the whole is unmistakably Baroque. Pigalle has mounted a tableau worthy of Bernini, whose works he studied during several years in Rome as a young man, although the relative restraint also suggests the example of Algardi. The pyramid is not a three-dimensional structure but a low relief built against the wall of the church, while the steps leading up to it and the figures occupying them are "real," like actors performing before a backdrop. We must therefore view the monument as a kind of theatrical performance in marble. The artist has even set it apart from its surroundings by creating an elevated "stage space" that projects outward.



JEAN-BAPTISTE PIGALLE. Tomb of the Marechal de Saxe. 1753-76. Marble. St. Thomas, Strasbourg


Jean-Baptiste Pigalle

Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, (born Jan. 26, 1714, Paris, France—died Aug. 21, 1785, Paris), French sculptor noted for his stylistically varied and original works.

Born into a family of master carpenters, Pigalle began training as a sculptor at age 18 with Robert Le Lorrain and then studied with Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne. After failing to win the Prix de Rome in 1735, he studied independently in Rome at his own expense from 1736 to 1739. His most famous work is the statue Mercury Attaching His Wings (1744), a classicizing work conveying qualities of both graceful ease and youthful vitality.

Pigalle was made a member of the Royal Academy in 1744; his reception piece was a marble version of the Mercury. The statue became so popular that Louis XV commissioned a life-size marble version of it to present to Frederick II of Prussia in 1749. Pigalle was appointed a professor at the Royal Academy in 1752.

Pigalle enjoyed the patronage of Madame de Pompadour from 1750 to 1758. He created several allegorical figure groups for her, such as Love and Friendship (1758), with some statues bearing her features in stylized form. He achieved considerable popularity with several smaller decorative, sentimental studies of children done in a Rococo style, such as the Child with a Bird Cage (1750). He was also an original and intelligent portrait sculptor, as is evident in his forcefully observed bust of Diderot (1777) and in the Nude Voltaire (1776), an anatomically realistic rendering of the aged philosopher that caused a furor when first shown. Pigalle’s two most important late commissions were the tomb of the duke d’Harcourt (1769–76) and the grandiose and theatrically effective tomb of the count de Saxe in Strasbourg (1753–76). Stylistically, Pigalle had difficulty combining his naturalistic tendencies with the conventional classicizing formulas of the time, but his sculptures almost always show qualities of daring, inventiveness, and charm.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 
 
Ange-Jacques Gabriel

Ange-Jacques Gabriel, also called Jacques-Ange Gabriel (born Oct. 23, 1698, Paris, France—died 1782, Paris), French architect who built or enlarged many châteaus and palaces during the reign of Louis XV. He was one of the most important and productive French architects of the 18th century.

The most celebrated member of a family of architects, he was the son of Jacques V (1667–1742), whom he succeeded as premier architect to Louis XV and director of the Academy of Architecture in 1742. Gabriel was the chief architect for most of the major building projects undertaken during Louis XV’s reign. Under him the royal châteaus and palaces were redesigned, enlarged, or renovated in order to satisfy Louis’ standards of personal comfort. Gabriel was careful to respect the work of his predecessors as he modified the structures, and he worked in the tradition of the great 17th-century masters François Mansart and Claude Perrault in sustaining a French style. Among Gabriel’s royal commissions were enlargements or extensions of the châteaus of Fontainebleau (begun 1749), La Muette (begun 1746), Compiègne (begun 1751), and Choisy (1754–56); an ambitious project for the Palace of Versailles, including the completion of its right wing and the building of the opera house (1761–68) and the Petit Trianon (1762–68) there; and the construction of the École Militaire (1750–68; Military Academy) in Paris. Gabriel provided virtually all of the royal residences with theatres, built pavilions and hermitages for some of them, and designed hunting lodges in the major royal forests. The magnificent Place Louis XV (now Place de la Concorde) in Paris (begun 1755) demonstrates his talents as an urban planner.

Gabriel’s structures exhibit a “noble simplicity” in the austere but harmonious arrangement of their masses and their subdued Classical decoration. He excelled at endowing large structures with majestic proportions, as exemplified in the École Militaire. He was also notable for his use of attached columns in place of pilasters, in both exterior and interior facades. His best-known work is the Petit Trianon at Versailles, which is universally famous for its harmonious proportions and elegant, Palladian-inspired lines.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Place de la Concorde, Paris, designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, 1766-1772

 
 
 

Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux
 
 
 

Château of the Petit Trianon in the park at Versailles
 
 
 

Pavillon Butard
 
 
 
 
Germain Boffrand
 
 

Portrait of Germain Boffrand by Lambert-Sigisbert Adam
 
Germain Boffrand (French pronunciation: (16 May 1667 – 19 March 1754) was a French architect. A pupil of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Germain Boffrand was one of the main creators of the precursor to Rococo called the style Régence, and in his interiors, of the Rococo itself. In his exteriors he held to a monumental Late Baroque classicism with some innovations in spatial planning that were exceptional in France His major commissions, culminating in his interiors at the Hôtel de Soubise, were memorialised in his treatise Livre d'architecture, published in 1745, which served to disseminate the French "Louis XV" style throughout Europe.
 
 

Hôtel de Soubise (1704-1707); Boffrand reurned to execute a suite of high rococo interiors (1735-1740)
 
 

Paris, Hôtel de Soubise, XVIII Century
 
 
Germain Boffrand, in full Gabriel-Germain Boffrand (born May 7, 1667, Nantes, France—died March 18, 1754, Paris), French architect noted for the great variety, quantity, and quality of his work.

Boffrand went to Paris in 1681, where, after studying sculpture for a time under François Girardon, he entered the workshop of the architect Jules Hardouin Mansart. As early as 1690, he received a commission to design buildings for the king, and in 1709 he was placed in charge of the decoration of the apartments of the Hôtel de Soubise (begun 1732). In 1710 the princesse de Condé commissioned his enlargement of the Palais Bourbon, a project noted for the large staircase added by Boffrand.

Boffrand, best known for his Livre d’architecture… (1745; “Book of Architecture”), was instrumental in spreading French taste across 18th-century Europe. He was responsible for a multitude of works, great and small, including plans for the new palace of Nantes and construction of the great altar for Nantes cathedral. He also built several private houses in Nantes and Paris. Between 1718 and 1728 Boffrand directed the work on the Arsenal in Paris and in 1722 was asked to restore the chamber of the Palais de Justice.

Boffrand also worked abroad: he built a fountain in the gardens of the favourite château of Maximilian II Emanuel, the elector of Bavaria, and assisted Balthasar Neumann in 1724 in designing the episcopal Residenz (1719–44) in Würzburg. Boffrand next restored the rose window of the transept of Notre-Dame de Paris (1725–27) and in 1727 constructed the Hospice des Enfants of the general hospital, for which he was appointed chief architect in 1728.

In 1732 he was appointed inspector general of roads and bridges of France. Boffrand’s noted later achievements were his restoration (1746) of the Saint-Esprit chapel and the door he built (1748) for the cloister of Notre-Dame. In addition to his vast architectural accomplishments and the Livre d ’architecture, Boffrand left Description de ce qui a été pratiqué pour fondre en bronze d ’un seul jet la figure équestre de Louis XIV… (1743; “Description of What Was Done to Cast in a Single Jet the Equestrian Statue of Louis XIV”).

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 

Hôtel de Ludre, à Nancy
 
 

Luneville's Castle
 
 

Hôtel Boffrand at 24 place Vendôme, in the 1st district of Paris, France
 
 

Château d'Haroué en Meurthe-et-Moselle
 
 

Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-l'Annonciation de Nancy
 
 

Wall elevation in the bedroom of the Prince de Rohan at the Hôtel de Soubise
 
 
 
 
Christophe-Gabriel Allegrain

Christophe-Gabriel Allegrain (11 October 1710, Paris – 1795) was a French sculptor who tempered a neoclassical style with Rococo charm and softness, under the influence of his much more famous brother-in-law, Jean-Baptiste Pigalle.

Allegrain was born into a well-established family of landscape painters in Paris.

His single most famous work, a marble Bather (La Baigneuse), was commissioned for the royal residences through the Bâtiments du Roi in 1755; a modelled sketch was shown at the Salon of 1757. When the finished marble was finally exhibited at the Salon of 1767 it received a sensational reception. In 1772 Louis XV presented it to Mme du Barry for her Château de Louveciennes, where she had recently completed the famed pavilion that introduced the new Neoclassicism, usually associated with the "Louis Seize style", into court circles. After the King's death she was pleased enough with it to commission from Allegrain a pendant bather in 1776, which he delivered in 1778 (illustration). presented in the landscape garden as Vénus and Diane they provided an allegory of her past sensual love and her present chaste condition. (Both are conserved in the Louvre Museum.) There are small-scale patinated bronze reproductions, and both pieces remained popular and often reproduced through the nineteenth century: in 1860, when the Goncourt brothers referred to "the refined legs of a Diana of Allegrain", their readers conjured up the familiar image.

His portrait by Joseph Duplessis, 1774, earned the painter a place in the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. Among his pupils were his son and François-Dominique-Aimé Milhomme. He died in Paris.

 


Christophe-Gabriel Allegrain. Diana. Marble, 1778

 
 
 

Christophe-Gabriel Allegrain. Venus at Bath
c. 1767
Marble, height 174 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
 
 
 
 
Jacques-Germain Soufflot
 
Jacques-Germain Soufflot, (born July 22, 1713, Irancy, France—died Aug. 29, 1780, Paris), French architect, a leader in the development of Neoclassical architecture and the designer of the Church of Sainte-Geneviève (the Panthéon) in Paris.
 
Claiming to be self-taught, Soufflot made several sojourns in Rome during the 1730s and ’50s and studied the classical monuments there as well as the Greek temples at Paestum. In 1738 he returned to Lyon to practice as an architect. The simplicity, spaciousness, and archaeologically accurate classical details of the principal works of his Lyon period, the extension of the Hôtel-Dieu (begun 1741) and the Loge des Changes (1751–52), presaged the movement of French taste away from the Rococo and toward Neoclassicism. Soufflot was entrusted in 1755 with the design of Sainte-Geneviève, which was intended to be the principal church of Paris. His aim in this project was to combine the strict regularity and monumentality of Roman arched ceiling vaults with the lightness of slender supporting piers and freestanding Corinthian columns.   A contemporary architect claimed that in this church, Soufflot had “united the lightness of construction of Gothic churches with the purity and magnificence of Greek architecture.” The plan was essentially a Greek cross, the facade an enormous temple front. The freestanding columns proved inadequate to support the building’s dome, which eventually had to be buttressed. Because of the predominantly classical origins of the design, it became a simple matter, when the Revolution abolished religion, for the church to be secularized and renamed the Panthéon. Unfortunately, the side windows were at that time walled up and much decoration removed. The effect of a light interior space was destroyed, resulting in the somewhat gloomy monument that the Panthéon is today.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 

The Pantheon, Paris
 
 

The Pantheon, Paris
 
 
 
 
Etienne-Maurice Falconet

Étienne-Maurice Falconet, (born Dec. 1, 1716, Paris—died Jan. 24, 1791, Paris), sculptor who adapted the classical style of the French Baroque to an intimate and decorative Rococo ideal. He was patronized by Mme de Pompadour and is best known for his small sculptures on mythological and genre themes and for the designs he made for the Sèvres porcelain factory.

Falconet was a pupil of the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne. He was received in the French Royal Academy in 1754 and soon after began to enjoy royal and official patronage. In 1757 Mme de Pompadour appointed Falconet director of the sculpture studios at the Sèvres porcelain factory. While director, he executed many models for the factory and produced small sculptures of mythological figures, such as Venus and Cupid, and a series of nude female bathers. He also executed a few monumental and religious works. In 1766 he was summoned to Russia by Catherine II at the suggestion of his friend Denis Diderot to produce a bronze equestrian statue of Peter the Great for St. Petersburg. The resulting work, dedicated in 1782, is one of the most powerful and original equestrian portraits of the age. Falconet left Russia in 1778, and, soon after, he suffered a debilitating stroke that left him unable to sculpt.

Encyclopædia Britannica



Etienne-Maurice Falconet. Milo of Croton
1754
Marble, height 66 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

 
 
 
 
ENGLAND
 

Sculpture

English sculpture has not been discussed in these pages since that of the thirteenth century. During the Reformation, we will recall, there was a wholesale destruction of sculpture in England. This had so chilling an effect that for 200 years the demand for statuary of any kind was too low to sustain more than the most modest local production. With the rise of a vigorous English school of painting, however, sculptural patronage grew as well, and during the eighteenth century England set an example for the rest of Europe in creating the "monument to genius": statues in public places honoring culture heroes such as Shakespeare, a privilege hitherto reserved tor heads of state.
 

Roubiliac

One of the earliest and most ingratiating of these statues is the monument to the great composer George Frederick Handel by the French-born Louis-Francois Roubiliac (1702-1762). It was also the first to be made of a culture hero within his lifetime. (The next to achieve this distinction would be Voltaire in France, a full generation later; see fig. 866). Roubiliac carved the figure in 1738 for the owner of Vauxhall Gardens in London, a pleasure park with dining facilities and an orchestra stand where Handel's music was often performed, so that the statue served two purposes: homage and advertising. Handel is in the guise of Apollo, the god of music, playing a classical lyre, while a putto at his feet writes down the divine music. But Handel is a most domestic Apollo, in slippers and a worn dressing gown, a soft beret on his head instead of the then customary wig. These attributes distinguish him as a man of arts and letters. Although Roubiliac shows himself in full command of the Baroque sculptural tradition, the studied informality of his deified Handel seems peculiarly English. Touches such as the right foot resting upon rather than inside the slipper (a hint at the composer's gouty big toe?) suggest that he sought advice from William Hogarth, with whom he was on excellent terms. Be that as it may, Handel was Roubiliac's first big success in his adopted homeland, and it became the forebear of countless monuments to culture heroes everywhere.
 



Louis-Francois Roubiliac. George Frederick Handel. 1738. Marble, lifesize. Victoria & Albert Museum, London


Louis Francois Roubiliac

Louis-François Roubiliac, Roubiliac also spelled Roubillac (baptized Aug. 31, 1702, Lyon, France—died Jan. 11, 1762, London, Eng.), together with John Michael Rysbrack, one of the most important late Baroque sculptors working in 18th-century England.

A native of Lyon, Roubiliac is said to have studied in Dresden with Balthasar Permoser, a sculptor of ivory and porcelain, and in Paris with Nicolas Coustou, a French Baroque sculptor. He moved to London about 1730. His first independent commission was a statue of Handel for Vauxhall Gardens in 1737. A year later he opened his own studio. In 1746 he carved a monument of the duke of Argyll in Westminster Abbey, one of his greatest works, though his more dramatic Monument of Lady Elizabeth Nightingale (1761) in the same building is better known. Besides monuments and full-length portrait statues, Roubiliac executed masterly portrait busts, several of which were modeled in terra-cotta for a Chelsea pottery factory (c. 1750)—e.g., the busts of William Hogarth and of Alexander Pope.

Outstanding technically, Roubiliac’s likenesses were also admired for their acute observation of the sitter and the perceptive revelation of character.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 

Louis-Francois Roubiliac. Bust of Richard Bentley
 
 
 
 

Louis-Francois Roubiliac. Tomb of Sir Joseph and Lady Elizabeth Nightingale
1761
Marble
Westminster Abbey, London
 
 
 
 

Louis-Francois Roubiliac. George II King of England
Marble, height 79 cm
Royal Collection, Windsor
 
 
 

Louis-Francois Roubiliac. Bust of John Belchier
1749
Marble
Royal College of Surgeons of England, London
 
 
 
 
John Wood the Elder
 
 
John Wood the Elder, byname Wood of Bath (baptized Aug. 26, 1704, Bath, Somerset, Eng.—died May 23, 1754, Bath), English architect and town planner who established the physical character of the resort city of Bath. Wood the Elder transformed Bath by adapting the town layout to a sort of Roman plan, emphasizing the processional aspect of social life during the period. Though some of his individual buildings were noteworthy exercises in Palladianism (a kind of 16th-century Italian Renaissance classicism), he was most highly regarded for his planning of streets and groups of houses as visual units.

After helping to build the Cavendish-Harley housing estate in London, Wood designed his first important “townscapes” in Bath, the North and South Parades (1728). These were followed by Queen Square (1735), Prior Park (1735–48), the Royal Mineral Water Hospital (1738), the Circus (completed in 1764, after his death, by his son John Wood the Younger), and the Royal Crescent (1767–75; executed by the younger Wood from his father’s design). Later a school, Prior Park was originally the residence of Ralph Allen, Wood’s chief patron and the principal supplier of Bath building stone (an oolitic limestone).

Wood’s major works outside Bath were the exchanges in Bristol (1740–43) and Liverpool (1748–55; with his son). His Description of the Exchange at Bristol (1745) was reprinted in 1969. Among his other projects were the Bath-Bristol Canal and the Llandaff Cathedral (restoration, from 1735; now incorporated into the city of Cardiff).

In the 1730s and ’40s, Wood developed a unique theory of architecture, and his later projects were influenced by his belief that the Druids had created a great civilization centred on Bath and that their architecture reflected divine laws of proportion and symbolism. His design for the Circus (see above) was based on this theory. Wood’s writings The Origin of Building; or, The Plagiarism of the Heathens Detected (1741, reprinted 1968) and An Essay Towards a Description of the City of Bath (1742–43; 2nd ed. 1749), although they do not explicitly set out the theory, express his thinking at that time.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 

The north side of Queen Square in Bath
 
 
 

Prior Park, the Palladian mansion built in 1742 for Ralph Allen
 
 
 

The Circus, Bath
 
 
 

Liverpool Town Hall Facade
 
 
 

The Courtyard, The Exchange, Bristol (1741–43), this was roofed over in the 19th century
 
 
 

 
 
 
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