French painting of Louis XV’s reign (1715–74), generally categorized by the term rococo, has typically been understood as an artistic style aimed at furnishing courtly society with delightful images of its own frivolous pursuits. Instead, this book shows the significance and seriousness underpinning the notion of pleasure embedded in eighteenth-century history painting. During this time, pleasure became a moral ideal grounded not only in domestic life but also defining a range of social, political, and cultural transactions oriented toward transforming and improving society at large.
History, painting, and the seriousness of pleasure in the age of Louis XV reconsiders the role of history painting in creating a new visual language that presented peace and happiness as an individual’s natural rights in the aftermath of Louis XIV’s bellicose reign (1643-1715). In this new study, Susanna Caviglia reinvestigates the artistic practices of an entire generation of painters born around 1700 (e.g. Francois Boucher, Charles-Joseph Natoire, and Carle Vanloo) in order to highlight the cultural forces at work within their now iconic images.