The art of the 18th century, afterwards called the "ancien regime" was aristocratic, delicate, playful and even provacative. Although much maligned in subsequent years as superficial and escapist, the Roroco produced works of astonishing beauty and charm. The word "rococo" was coined to describe these works only in the late 19th century. It appears to have been made from the French words for pebble (rocaille) and shell (coquille) to suggest that these paintings were from a world of sensuous objects, decorations, and the intimate interiors of the aristocrats and upper middle classes who after the death of Louis XIV (1715) left the solemnity of Versailles for the pleasures of Paris

By general agreement, the two greatest figures of Rococo Art were François Boucher (1703- 1770) and his pupil, Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732- 1806), but while the range of their work is wide, the Rococo also witnessed the appearance of several other important art forms. To illustrate these, we have to turn to the works of three remarkable women artists, Adelaide Labille-Guiard (1749-1803); Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842); and Marguerite Gérard (1761-1837). These women excelled not only in formal portraits of aristocratic women, but celebrated the new emphasis which the Enlightenment had placed upon domestic harmony. This subject matter -- usually referred to as genre painting -- thus joined religious paintings, portraiture and history pictures in the history of art. But the master of genre painting in the 18th century was Jean-Baptist Greuze (1725-1805) and a representative collection of his works are found in the fourth set.

Unfortunatly, even a careful examination of all these six artists do not fully exhaust the richness of the rococo. So at the bottom of this page, I have have included several thumbnails from other artists in order to show the variety and extent of rococo paintings. Clicking on the individual thumbnails will bring up a description and enlargement.


To enter the collection, click on the enhanced title.

Boucher, François


 Fragonard, Jean-Honore




Interrupted Sleep (1751)
 The Swing (1766)

Three Women Rococo Artists

Adelaide Labille-Guiard, Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun, and Marguerite Gérard

 Greuze, Jean-Baptist




Adelaide Labille-Guiard with her pupils (1788)
 The Spoiled Child (1765)


To see enlarged versions of the pictures below, click on the work



 F Charles Le Brun: The Martyrdom of St. John (1641)

Charles Le Brun: Agony in the Garden (1660)

Charles Le Brun: Adoration of the Shepherds (1690)

Louis de Boullongne: Venus Commands Vulcan (1703)





François LaMoyne: Fecundity (1729)

François LaMoyne: Hercules and Omphale (1730)

François LaMoyne: The Amorous Proposal (1735)

Hyacinthe Rigaud: Gaspard de Gueidan (1735)





Nicolas Lancret: Young Woman on Sofa (1740)

Jean-Simeon Chardin: Saying Grace (1740)

Jean-Baptist Pierre: The Judgment of Paris (1759)

Martin Drolling: Peasants in a Rustic Interior (1800)

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