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Rococo Architecture – An Exquisite Architecture Of Dramatic Energy

Rococo Architecture (1700-1790) often known as Late Baroque is highly ornamental and theatrical style of architecture. While Baroque architecture had begun in Rome to express Religious mysteries, Rococo architecture developed in Paris as a secular style.

The art and decoration of Rococo combines symmetry, delicate use of light colors, sweeping curves, gilding, sculptural moldings, and Trompe-l’œil frescoes to create an illusion of drama and motion. Primarily, Rococo is a style of Residential Interior decoration.

The word rococo is derived from French rocaille (“shell”).It refers to a method of decoration using seashells, pebbles, and cement.

Characteristics /Features of Rococo Architecture

The characteristics of Rococo Architecture establishes a sense of dramatic emotion with energy and action.

  • Rich Textures/Rich surface treatments
  • Light Palate of colors
  • Asymmetrical spaces
  • Curve/sweeping forms – specially Domes
  • Twisting elements
  • Irregular or complicated shapes
  • Concave and convex surfaces to mimic undulation
  • Grand stairways
  • Exaggerated Grandeur
  • Use of oval, both in plan and in ornamentation
  • Trompe-I’oeil treatments in interiors
  • Groupings of columns and niches
  • Lavish, dramatic paintings featured on ceilings and walls.
  • Imagery that created optical illusions.

Rococo ornament is derived from natural forms – shells, flowers, as well as seaweeds, particularly if they were of double S- curve.

Examples of Rococo Architecture

1. Amalienburg

Rococo Architecture
Image source : i.pinimg.com
Rococo Architecture
Image source: a-l-ancien-regime.tumblr.com
  • Building: Amalienburg
  • Function/Use: Hunting lodge
  • Location: surrounding Nymphenburg Palace, Munich, South Germany
  • Date of construction: 1734-1739
  • Architect: François de Cuvilliés
  • Historical Influence : Baroque Architecture
  • Key Features: Carvings of Rococo, Large mirrors, and silver plating.
  • Façade: Plain white exterior is one of the elements of Rococo architecture.
  • Interiors: Delicate layer of silver filigree set against an azure blue background, silver leaf on the delicate paneling, profusion of carved and gilded stucco work – indeed no other Rococo interior ever surpassed this work.

2. Basilica of Vierzehnheiligen

Image source: smarthistory.org
Image source: smarthistory.org
  • Building: Basilica of Vierzehnheiligen, Dedicated to Fourteen Holy Helpers
  • Function/Use: Church
  • Location: Bavaria, Southern Germany
  • Date of construction: 1743-1772
  • Architect: Balthasar Neumann
  • Historical Influence : Greek, Renaissance and Baroque Architecture.
  • Key Features: Gilded tendrils, paintings, spaces manipulating light.
  • Façade:
  • Interiors: Interior plan is a series of interlocked and overlapping ovals with curved arcades, capped by ellipsoidal domes. White piers and vaults are covered with gilded tendrils as well as paintings. Despite the columns painted in plaster called scagliola, they resemble beautifully veined marble columns.

3. Branicki Palace – Rococo Architecture

Image source: Wikipedia.org
  • Building: Branicki Palace
  • Function/Use: Palace
  • Location: Bialystok, Poland
  • Date of construction: 1691-1697, Renovated during 1940-1950’s
  • Architect: Tylman van Gameren
  • Historical Influence : Renaissance Architecture, Baroque Architecture.
  • Key Features: Beautiful gardens, Pavilions, sculptures
  • Façade: A pedimented central block with wings flanking on either side with ionic colonnade over the main entrance.

4. Queluz National Palace

Rococo Architecture
Image source : euroveloportugal.com
  • Building: Queluz National Palace
  • Function/Use: Residence for Portuguese Royal Family
  • Location: Queluz, Portugal
  • Date of construction: 1747
  • Architect: Mateus Vicente de Oliveira
  • Historical Influence : Renaissance Architecture, Baroque Architecture
  • Key Features: Luxurious interiors, extensive lawns, Rococo style fountains that depict deities form Greek Mythology.
  • Façade: Two low(single storied), symmetrical wings flank on either side of a principal/central block which is two-storied. Thus it forms a three-sided courtyard with hanging gardens. The main section features large rectangular columns crowned by a triangular pediment. Further, it is externally decorated with travertine and delicately carved low-relief design patterns over the windows.
  • Interiors: Walls and ceilings were painted to depict allegorical and historical scenes.

5. Catherine Palace

Rococo Architecture
Image source: travelallrussia.com
  • Building: Catherine Palace
  • Function/Use: Summer residence of Russian tsars.
  • Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Date of construction: Mid 1700’s
  • Architect: Bartolomeo Rastrelli
  • Historical Influence : Renaissance Architecture, Baroque Architecture.
  • Key Features: Gardens with terraces, stone staircases,
  • Façade: Exteriors gilded with gold

6. Linderhof Palace

Rococo Architecture
Image source : theglobetrottingdetective.com

Linderhof Palace is one of the exquisite and royal residence of Bavaria. The design was an inspiration from famous building – Versailles Palace in France.

  • Building: Linderhof Palace
  • Function/Use: Castle/Palace
  • Location: Bavaria, Germany
  • Date of construction: 1863-1886
  • Architect: King Ludwig II
  • Historical Influence : Renaissance Architecture, Baroque Architecture.
  • Key Features: Series of gardens, Reflecting pools and fountains, magnificent staircase, symbols of Sun.
  • Façade: A two storied stone façade with rococo décor.

7. Helbling House

Image source: flickr.com
  • Building: Helbling House
  • Function/Use: Private Residence
  • Location: Innsbruck, Austria
  • Date of construction: Completed in 1732
  • Historical Influence : Gothic architecture, Baroque Architecture.
  • Key Features: Rococo decorations on façade
  • Façade: A Baroque façade with Rococo decorations – the bows, oriel windows/exquisite bay windows, tympana, sculptures as well as shells – all these make the building unique in its style.

8. Interiors of Hôtel de Soubise

Image source : commons.wikimedia.org

A unique aspect of this building is that it features exteriors with Baroque Architecture and Interiors with Rococo Architecture.

  • Building: Hôtel de Soubise
  • Function/Use: Hotel/City Mansion
  • Location: Paris, France
  • Date of construction: 1375
  • Architect: Pierre-Alexis Delamair, Interiors by French Architect – Germain Boffrand
  • Historical Influence : Renaissance Architecture, Baroque Architecture.
  • Interiors: The image shown above shows one of the splendid and most lavishly decorated rooms known as Salon de la Princesse. It is an oval chamber of which the walls and ceilings are embellished with intricate Rococo carvings, gilded boiserie, paintings as well as mirrors.

9. Pilgrimage Church of Wies 

Image source: timetravelturtle.com
  • Building: Pilgrimage Church of Wies 
  • Function/Use: Pilgrimage church
  • Location: Wies, Bavaria, Germany
  • Date of construction: 1745–54
  • Architect: Dominikus Zimmermann
  • Historical Influence : Renaissance Architecture, Baroque Architecture.
  • Key Features: Splendid sanctuary, all kinds of art forms were used – Architecture, sculpture, carving, stucco work, painting as well as ironwork.
  • Interiors: A remarkable and splendid stucco decoration, lively colors of the painting that enhances sculpted detail, and frescoes reflects richness, grandeur and refinement. Light from the windows is cleverly diffused directly and indirectly. The ceilings are painted in trompe-l’œil, motifs and figures in which the angels appear to fly upwards towards sky(heaven).
  • Universal Value: UNESCO World Heritage Site

10. Palace of the Marqués de Dos Aguas

Image source: gpsmycity.com
  • Building: Palace of the Marqués de Dos Aguas
  • Function/Use: Presently as González Martí National Museum of Ceramics and Decorative Arts
  • Location: Valencia, Spain
  • Date of construction: 18th century.
  • Architect: Hipólito Rovira Meri, Ignacio Vergara, Luis Domingo
  • Historical Influence : Baroque Architecture, Gothic Architecture
  • Façade: Previously it was a Gothic structure but later it was renovated, mainly the entrance is made of alabaster by the Valencian.
  • Interiors: Walls and ceilings were covered with frescoes, stuccos and elegant fabrics.

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