The Rococo style came originally from France, the word being a combination of rocaille (shell) and the Italian for baroque (barocco), and came into fashion during the reign of Louis XV. The flamboyance of Rococo at that time was in stark contrast to its predecessor, the Baroque which was far more symmetrical and dramatic. Rococo designs of shells and waves flowed effortlessly around the legs and arms of chairs and the frames of mirrors and the whole took on a light hearted, organic quality.
Rococo was introduced to Britain from the 1740s onwards but its light flamboyance, via the designs of Thomas Chippendale transmuted into more symmetrical Chinese and sober Gothic styles that eventually paved the way for the disciplined Neo-Classicism of the Regency period from 1780 onwards. An English exponent of the more whimsical French Rococo style was Thomas Johnson, a wood carver and furniture maker who recreated the lighthearted flamboyances of the French designers although he was opposed to French influences in Britain.
Revivals of Rococo design re-emerged during the Victorian era, sometimes producing strange hybrid examples of Rococo and Gothic where the light and organic style of Rococo married with the sharpened ecclesiastical spires and arches of the Gothic. Examples like these became very popular during the Gothic Revival period in America (1830-1870). Other examples of remnants of the Rococo styles remained with French boudoir furniture produced towards the end of the 19th century and examples of what is classed in today’s market as shabby chic is bought and copied heavily in the UK.
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