The entrapment of the aristocracy that King Louis XIV began at the Palace of Versailles in the late seventeenth century sparked a vast dislike among the nobility of classical baroque art. Since the French monarchy used this controlled style in order to symbolize the grip it held on the nation, aristocrats sought a new style that embodied freedom from Versailles and celebrated the upper class rather than the monarchy or the state. Because they possessed the most wealth in society at the time, their tastes dictated the direction of art, and, for a large portion of the eighteenth century, the new rococo style became the norm, embodying pastels, luxury, and romantic scenes. However, as industrialization took root in France in the nineteenth century, the bourgeoisie accumulated the most wealth, seized control of painting commissions, and thusly redirected popular art in France to suit their desires. French art during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century then reflected shifting sentiments among and between the classes, especially demonstrating a dislike for excesses as expressed in the rococo era; and these sentiments led to a condemnation of the aristocracy and its indulgences. As the middle-class gained power through knowledge (via Enlightenment thinking) and wealth (via industrialization), they suppressed the nobility and the monarchy and radically shifted art patronage to classicizing, moralizing works of art—the exact opposite of the rococo style.
Elfrink, Kimberly, "Rococo, Reason, and Revolution : The French Intellectual and Moral Response to Aristocratic Indulgence as Demonstrated Through Art" (2016). Student Scholarship. 4.
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