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Museum number W.4:1-1956

Museum number W.4:1-1956

Rococo

Rococo was an ornamental style that came to Britain from France and became fashionable between 1740 and 1760. It was used to create deliberately asymmetrical designs with elaborate C and S scrolls. Ornamental rockwork or shellwork motifs known as rocaille were often used in combination with marine motifs.

Rococo ornament first appeared in the work of silversmiths and then was taken up by carvers, cabinet makers and plasterers. They benefited from the sets of engraved ornaments and pattern books that began to be published in greater numbers in Britain form 1736.

Rococo remained essentially a style for interior decoration and ornamental design and had little influence on architecture.

Video: A Rococo writing table

View transcript of video

The complex curving shape to this piece is closer to Continental than British design. Its manufacture must have demanded extraordinary skill. The gilt-bronze are unusually large and are of expectational quality.

They are cast as caryatids (female supporting figures) and naturalistic dolphins. The decoration on the handles is full of movement.

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