The Etymology of the Term “Baroque” and “Rococo”

Baroque-period

The term “Baroque” is derived from the Portuguese term “barroco” which means a “misshapen pearl” as it was thought that the baroque period was similar to the Renaissance, but not as perfect as the Renaissance, a sort of wonky replica of sorts. The term “Rococo” is derived from the French term “rocaille” (pronounced “rock-eye”) which means “shell work” and typically refers to the late Baroque period. Rococo implies an art form which is shapeless and overloaded with detail, and the term was originally meant as an insult towards the Baroque and Rococo artform, as is the case with many forms of artwork when they first emerge (e.g. graffiti etc.)

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