David Owsley Museum of Art

18th Century Art

Eighteenth-century art is elegant, graceful, and intimate, created to please rather than instruct. Historians term the dominant style of this period "rococo," derived from the French word rocaille (rock work), a pebble and shell-like decoration first used in French and Italian gardens.

Art of this era turns away from the grandiose, theatrical, and religious tendencies of the preceding baroque style toward a manner characterized by sinuous, curling lines suited to the sensuous, cultured lifestyles of the well-to-do during the reign of King Louis XV of France.

The David Owsley Museum of Art's 18th-century works include portraiture, sculpture, and religious and mythological paintings as well as sculpture and decorative arts by artists including Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, François-Hubert Drouais, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Francesco Guardi, and Jean-Antoine Houdon. Works from this era are installed in the East Gallery.