Italian Rococo interior design: One of the richest and most colorful styles that flourished in Europe

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Verica Sitnik
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During the Rococo period, which begins in the early 18th century, the Italian states were conquered by Austria, France, and Spain. Only a few of them remained independent, including the Republic of Venice and the Republic of Genoa, Lucca. Italian Rococo interior design is related to furniture, frescos, home decorations, and even artistic designs.

Under French authority, Italy’s position as an artistic and cultural leader in Europe was lost. Italy still exerted some clout, but the loss of power of the state resulted in a loss of impact during the Rococo period.

From arts to science, the Renaissance and the Baroque periods were the most developed in Italy, but in Rococo, France is the one who is credited as an influential leader in architecture, music, fashion, literature and education.

The Apotheosis of St. John of Matha 1776, by Rococo artist Gregorio Guglielmi. Author: Rodney CC BY 2.0

Around the 1720s in France, outmoded Baroque slowly started to change its tempestuous and masculine style to the new Rococo fashion, which had a bright, romantic, and more feminine style. Rococo was not immediately accepted in Italy, and initially, architecture remained in the conservative Baroque style. But under French influence, in the 1720s, Italian architecture and interior design began to change.

Church interior in Milan, Rococo style. Author: G.dallorto CC BY 2.0

Italian Rococo interior of the Venaria reale. Author: Twice25 & Rinina25 CC BY 2.5

In early 1730s, Rococo interiors began to appear in the first plans, and the designs become in essence more like Régence and Louis XV styles. Sicily and Venice began to produce rich and colorful fabrics in Rococo styles, such as velvet and silk. Italian interior designs become more extravagant and luxurious in Venice, and Genoa was known for its colorful styles.

Chairs and sofas were inspired by the French fauteuils, but the seats were usually longer and more ornate. Silver, gold, or bronze was the materials which were still used, same like in the Baroque style. Around the edges of ballrooms, there were Italian settees which were very low, for decoration or seating. Consoles and side tables were decorated with caryatids and gold and bronze carvings.

Low chairs in Rococo style. Author: Ashley Van Haeften 2.0

Rococo room in the Palace of Caserta, interior designs. Author: Twice25 & Rinina25 CC BY 2.5

In the bedrooms, trespoli were used to hold candles. Console tables were used for decoration and above them there hung a painting or a mirror. The secretary desk was one of the major changes in Baroque furnishings. They were more comfortable and useful in the Rococo style. Bureau bookcases were also very popular. Rococo character and style varied by region and city.

Rococo details. Author: Twice25 & Rinina25 CC BY 2.5

Although Venice was in a state of turmoil, it was a serious contender with Paris for leading the way in contemporary fashion, style, and design during the Rococo period. Venetian Rococo interior design was luxurious, with elaborate artistic details. The furniture was extraordinary, such as divani da portego, couches, and pozzetti. The curtains in the sumptuous Venetian bedrooms were covered with flowers and angels, the beds with statues of putti. Girandole mirrors were maybe the most famous piece of Venetian interior design.

Palace of Caserta, room with Rococo designs and details. Author: Twice25 & Rinina25 CC BY 2.5

 

Rococo interior in Santa Maria Maddalena. Author: Ho visto nina volare CC BY 2.5

Murano glass was used to make Ventian chandeliers look vibrant and stand out from the other objects. Gleaming lacquer very often covered entire pieces of furniture. Sicilian Rococo was particularly distinctive, as it fused typical traditional local elements with a heavy French influence. The cabriole legs had intricate scrollwork and arabesques; the tables were often painted with elements of festivals, society, life, plants, and fruit.

Orchestra performing in Rococo style hall. Author: Andrea Puggioni 2.0

Pietro Piffetti (1700–1770), was the designer who made Sardinian Rococo interior romantic and elegant. He was admired across Italy for his work. His designs were made of exotic materials and become very famous. The Genoese Rococo interior was also highly unusual, typified by large, sumptuous beds and chairs and included intensely rich fabrics. In Rome, the interior designs were relatively conservative. However, some elements made Roman Rococo relatively distinguished, and a remarkable set of bureau-cabinets were made for Pope Pius VI.