Dangerous Liaisons

The Art of the French Rococo

4 November 2015 to 28 March 2016

It is key artworks from the French Rococo that the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung presented in a comprehensive special exhibition. Featuring more than eighty outstanding exhibits on loan, the show entitled “Dangerous Liaisons” focused on the newly emerging concept of sentimental love and its preferred style of representation in French art around 1750, vividly illustrating the seductive powers of the Rococo. On view were sculptures, biscuit-porcelain statuettes, paintings, and prints as well as arts-and-crafts objects from renowned international lenders such as the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Musée du Louvre, Paris, the British Museum or the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, as well as the Wallraf-Richartz Museum & Fondation Corboud, Cologne, or the Bayerischen Staatsgemäldesammlungen—Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

During the reign of French king Louis XV, not only art theoreticians and writers, but also visual artists began to recontemplate the meaning of passions and emotions. While formulaic enunciations of sentiments had still been commonplace in the seventeenth century, such preset expressions of passion lost the more of their significance in the first half of the eighteenth century, the more love came to be understood as an individual emotion that was glorified as giving meaning to life. New models of love and—along with them—nature as a courtly Arcadia informed the representational vocabulary of the fine arts. What is in the foreground of works by sculptors Étienne-Maurice Falconet (1716–1791) and Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (1714–1785) as well as painters Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721), Nicolas Lancret (1690–1743), and François Boucher (1703–1770) and of porcelain sculptures by Johann Joachim Kaendler (1706–1775) is an artistic conception of naturalness. In addition, one room in the exhibition recreated, with mirrors, furniture, paintings, prints, and porcelain, the look of a typical eighteenth-century salon.

Curator Dr. Maraike Bückling (Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung)
With support from Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain gGmbH, Georg und Franziska Speyer’sche Hochschulstiftung
Media partner Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt am Main
Cultural partner hr2-kultur