French France, Console table, ca. 1740, Oak, gesso, gilt,and marble; 95.3 x 152.4 x 66.7 cm (37 1/2 x 60 x 26 1/4 inches), Gift of Mr. Jack Linsky 56.025
This gilded console table could in itself define the rococo style: the edges of the table’s form dissolve into elongated serpentine curves, and airy passages of pierced openwork lighten the luxuriant accretions of foliage, birds, and shells. Sensuous scrolls show the primacy of ornament in the rococo, a term used since about 1796 to describe the exuberant designs associated with Louis XV of France (reigned 1715 - 1774). At first used pejoratively by critics of its superfluities, rococo was a mocking corruption of the French word rocaille, which referred to the rockwork of elaborate grottos created in aristocratic pleasure gardens. By 1796, aesthetic preference had come to favor the clean lines and spare geometry of neoclassicism. The term rococo today is used without prejudice, and the decorative style has enjoyed several revivals.