Rocaille was a French style of exuberant decoration, with an abundance of curves, counter-curves, undulations and elements modeled on nature, that appeared in furniture and interior decoration during the early reign of Louis XV of France. It was a reaction against the heaviness and formality of the Style Louis XIV. It began in about 1710, reached its peak in the 1730s, and came to an end in the late 1750s, replaced by neoclassicism. It was the beginning of the French baroque movement in furniture and design, and also marked the beginning of the Rococo movement, which spread to Italy, Bavaria and Austria by the mid-18th century. Rocaille was exuberant and inspired by nature like Rococo, but, unlike Rococo, it was usually symmetrical and not overloaded with decoration. It took its name from the mixture of rock, seashell and plaster that was used to create a picturesque effect in grottos during the Renaissance, and from the name of a seashell-shaped ornament which was frequent feature of Rocaille decoration. In 1736 the designer and jeweler Jean Mondon published the Premier Livre de forme rocquaille et cartel, a collection of designs for ornaments of furniture and interior decoration. It was the first appearance in print of the term "rocaille" to designate the style. The style was used particularly in salons, a new style of room designed to impress and entertain guests. The most prominent example was the salon of the Princess in Hôtel de Soubise in Paris, designed by Germain Boffrand and Charles-Joseph Natoire (1735–40). The characteristics of French Rococo included exceptional artistry, especially in the complex frames made for mirrors and paintings, which sculpted in plaster and often gilded; sinuous curves and counter-cures, and the use of vegetal forms (vines, leaves, flowers) intertwined in complex designs. The leading furniture designers in the style included Juste-Aurele Meissonier and Charles Cressent, along with the wood craftsman Nicolas Pineau. Design for a clock case by Gilles-Marie Oppenordt (1715) Table design by Juste-Aurele Meissonier (c. 1730) Design for the bedroom of the Prince, Hotel de Soubise, by Germain Boffrand (1735–40) Fireplace and mantle design by Nicolas Pineau (1st half of 18th century) Designs for a porcelain writing set by Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier (1748) Floral and acanthus leaf design by Alexis Peyrotte (1750)


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