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Alastair Laing

(b Paris, Sept 29, 1703; d Paris, May 30, 1770).

French painter, draughtsman and etcher. Arguably it was he, more than any other artist, who set his stamp on both the fine arts and the decorative arts of the 18th century. Facilitated by the extraordinary proliferation of engravings, Boucher successfully fed the demand for imitable imagery at a time when most of Europe sought to follow what was done at the French court and in Paris. He did so both as a prolific painter and draughtsman (he claimed to have produced some 10,000 drawings during his career) and through engravings after his works, the commercial potential of which he seems to have been one of the first artists to exploit. He reinvented the genre of the pastoral, creating an imagery of shepherds and shepherdesses as sentimental lovers that was taken up in every medium, from porcelain to toile de Jouy, and that still survives in a debased form. At the same time, his manner of painting introduced the virtuosity and freedom of the sketch into the finished work, promoting painterliness as an end in itself. This approach dominated French painting until the emergence of Neo-classicism, when criticism was heaped on Boucher and his followers. His work never wholly escaped this condemnation, even after the taste for French 18th-century art started to revive in the second half of the 19th century. In his own day, the fact that he worked for both collectors and the market, while retaining the prestige of a history painter, had been both Boucher’s strength and a cause of his decline....


Richard John and Gordon Campbell

(b Harsten, Leics, March 14, 1688; d 1763).

English textile designer. After 40 years in Grantham where her father was rector, Garthwaite moved to London, where she became the leading English silk-designer of the second quarter of the 18th century. Her silk designs incorporated naturalistic, asymmetrical flowers from 1742, and in the following year she started using sinuous C- and S-scrolls. There is a collection of her designs in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London....


Andrzej Ryszkiewicz

(b Saxony, c. 1687; d Warsaw, Aug 4, 1737).

German painter, draughtsman and theatrical designer, active in Poland. Educated in the international artistic milieu of Dresden, he demonstrated decidedly French features in his work. He was employed at the court of the Saxon Electors, supplying cartoons for the manufacture of tapestries in Dresden and producing paintings, usually in gouache, depicting ceremonial occasions in the city and at court, for example the Solemn Entrance (1710; untraced) and the Arrival of King Augustus III in Warsaw, 25 November 1734 (Dresden, Schloss Moritzburg). In c. 1723 he settled in Warsaw, where from at least 1724 he painted scenery for the royal theatre, exhibiting a developed decorative sense and a versatile facility. In 1731 he became court painter to Augustus II, King of Poland, and in 1735 ‘first painter’ to Augustus III. A citizen of Old Warsaw from 1732, converted to Roman Catholicism, he amassed a considerable fortune from business schemes.

In Warsaw, as in Dresden, Mock painted scenes of major court ceremonies, designed architectural and decorative projects for such occasions and executed decorative symbolic scenes, such as allegories of the nations, including ...



Richard John and Ludwig Tavernier

A decorative style of the early to mid-18th century, primarily influencing the ornamental arts in Europe, especially in France, southern Germany and Austria. The character of its formal idiom is marked by asymmetry and naturalism, displaying in particular a fascination with shell-like and watery forms. Further information on the Rococo can be found in this dictionary within the survey articles on the relevant countries.

Richard John

The nature and limits of the Rococo have been the subject of controversy for over a century, and the debate shows little sign of resolution. As recently as 1966, entries in two major reference works, the Penguin Dictionary of Architecture and the Enciclopedia universale dell’arte (EWA), were in complete contradiction, one altogether denying its status as a style, the other claiming that it ‘is not a mere ornamental style, but a style capable of suffusing all spheres of art’. The term Rococo seems to have been first used in the closing years of the 18th century, although it was not acknowledged by the ...