Rococo: French 18th-Century Prints

Louis Marin Bonnet, The Pleasures of Education, 1777, color engraving in the crayon manner on cream laid paper, Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs Collection 1926.1280

Through March 20, 2005

The French style in painting and decoration of the 18th century corresponded roughly to the reign of King Louis XV. Its name was a conflation of the French rocaille, or shell-form, and the Italian barocco, or baroque, and the style was characterized by decorative shell shapes and arabesques, with elaborate curves, asymmetry, and iridescent pastel colors. The leading painters working in the style, Jean-Antoine Watteau, François Boucher, and Jean Honoré Fragonard, generally favored light-hearted subject matter. All three made prints, and designed for the greatest craftsmen of the day. The Rococo period was the acme of intaglio printmaking technology, when artisans combined etching, engraving, aquatint, and mezzotint in lavish color prints that have never been surpassed. The Worcester Art Museum has an outstanding collection of Rococo color prints, which form the nucleus of this elegant exhibition.

Generous support provided by Robert & Barbara Wheaton and The Ruth VS. Lauer Trust, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Select Images from the Exhibition