Rocaille ( US: /roʊˈkaɪ,rɒˈkaɪ/ ro(h)-KY,     French: [ʁɔkɑj] ) was a French style of exuberant decoration, with an abundance of curves, counter-curves, undulations and elements modeled on nature, that appeared in furniture and interior decoration during the early reign of Louis XV of France. It was a reaction against the heaviness and formality of the Louis XIV style. It began in about 1710, reached its peak in the 1730s, and came to an end in the late 1750s, replaced by Neoclassicism.   It was the beginning of the French Baroque movement in furniture and design, and also marked the beginning of the Rococo movement, which spread to Italy, Bavaria and Austria by the mid-18th century.
Rocaille was exuberant and inspired by nature like Rococo, but, unlike Rococo, it was usually symmetrical and not overloaded with decoration. It took its name from the mixture of rock, seashell and plaster that was used to create a picturesque effect in grottos during the Renaissance, and from the name of a seashell-shaped ornament which was frequent feature of Rocaille decoration.  In 1736, the designer and jeweler Jean Mondon published the Premier Livre: De forme Rocquaille et Cartel, a collection of designs for ornaments of furniture and interior decoration. It was the first appearance in print of the term rocaille to designate the style. 
The style was used particularly in salons, a new style of room designed to impress and entertain guests. The most prominent example was the salon of the Princess in Hôtel de Soubise in Paris, designed by Germain Boffrand and Charles-Joseph Natoire (1735–40). The characteristics of French Rococo included exceptional artistry, especially in the complex frames made for mirrors and paintings, which sculpted in plaster and often gilded; sinuous curves and counter-cures, and the use of vegetal forms (vines, leaves, flowers) intertwined in complex designs. The leading furniture designers in the style included Juste-Aurele Meissonier and Charles Cressent, along with the wood craftsman Nicolas Pineau. 
Rocaille decoration was heavily loaded with decoration modeled on seashells, cascades of leaves and flowers, palm leaves, and other natural elements. The decor on walls and furniture was usually made of carved wood or plaster which was gilded. The French designer Bernard Toro produced a book of flamboyant early Rocaille patterns in 1716, which was widely circulated in Europe. The first major craftsman in the style was Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, followed by Jean Bérain the Elder, Gilles-Marie Oppenordt, Nicolas Pineau, and the sculptor-modelers Thomas Germain, Jacques Caffieri, and the German Jean-Claude Duplessis. 
The master cabinet makers or ébénistes of rocaille furniture included Mathieu Criaerd (1689–1776), who became a master in 1738. He was particularly known both for his fine marquetry or inlay, and for his chests with a Chinese or Japanese theme, with fine Chinese lacquer or Martin varnish, and ornaments of gilded and sculpted bronze. 
Another important figure of the rocaille style was the ébéntiste Charles Cressent (1685–1768), who was a master craftsman both in the guild of wood carvers and bronze ornament sculptors, a rare accomplishment earned respectively in 1708 and 1714. Cressent made furniture not only for Louis XV, but also for the King of Portugal and for the Elector of Bavaria. He is best known for his commodes, book cases and desks, which were often inlaid with rosewood and violet wood and equipped with particularly fine rocaille ornament of gilded bronze, including infants intermingled with birds and cascading vegetation. He introduced several stylistic innovations, including the espagnolettes à aigrette, small busts of young women, applied to the corners of his commodes and desks. This became a common decoration used by other masters of the rocaille. 
Other notable furniture craftsmen included the members of the Cresson family, Louis Cresson (1706–1761), Rene Cresson (1705–49) and Michel Cresson (1709–81), all of whom provided exceptionally crafted chairs, armoires, commodes and other furnishings for royal residences. Their children also became menuisiers and ébénistes during the reign of Louis XVI. 
Rocaille decoration was common in the wooden wall panels and other interior decoration between 1730 and 1750. The trim was usually made of carved and gilded wood or stucco against a white background. The panels in the frames often also had decorative painting, usually of arabesques or colorful floral patterns, and often featured animals or exotic subjects, set in China, Japan, or Turkey.
Besides its use in furniture, the style appeared in porcelain and metalwork. In 1738, the Manufacture de Vincennes was founded thanks to the support of Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour, in order to compete with the manufactories at Chantilly and Meissen.  In 1756, the manufactury was moved to a building in Sèvres, built at the initiative of Madame de Pompadour, near her château.
The most remarkable rocaille metal work included the cast iron and gilded fences and gates created by iron maker Jean Lamour for the new Place Stanislas in Nancy between 1750 and 1758 as the Duchy of Lorraine was attached to France. The square was completed with an ensemble of buildings whose balconies and suspended lamps matched the grillwork of the fence and gates. 
The Rocaille influenced the Chippendale style in England, and the work of the Belgian-born Bavarian decorative artist François de Cuvilliés. The style also became very popular for a time in Italy, particularly in Venice, and spread to Austria, Bavaria and Spain, where it took on a more exuberant and overcharged form.
The discovery of Greek antiquities beginning in 1738 at Herculanum and especially at Pompeii in 1748 turned French architecture in the direction of the more symmetrical and less flamboyant neo-classicism and the Louis XV style. Furniture and decoration became more geometric; furniture legs became straight, resembling Roman or Grecian columns, and the ornate carving on the exterior of furniture was increasingly replaced by fine inlays of multicolored wood.
Rococo, less commonly Roccoco, also known as Late Baroque, is an exceptionally ornamental and theatrical style of architecture, art and decoration which combines asymmetry, scrolling curves, gilding, white and pastel colours, sculpted moulding, and trompe-l'œil frescoes to create surprise and the illusion of motion and drama. It is often described as the final expression of the Baroque movement.
Furniture refers to movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating, eating (tables), storing items, eating and/or working with an item, and sleeping. Furniture is also used to hold objects at a convenient height for work, or to store things. Furniture can be a product of design and can be considered a form of decorative art. In addition to furniture's functional role, it can serve a symbolic or religious purpose. It can be made from a vast multitude of materials, including metal, plastic, and wood. Furniture can be made using a variety of woodworking joints which often reflects the local culture.
The Wallace Collection is a museum in London occupying Hertford House in Manchester Square, the former townhouse of the Seymour family, Marquesses of Hertford. It is named after Sir Richard Wallace, who built the extensive collection, along with the Marquesses of Hertford, in the 18th and 19th centuries. The collection features fine and decorative arts from the 15th to the 19th centuries with important holdings of French 18th-century paintings, furniture, arms and armour, porcelain and Old Master paintings arranged into 25 galleries. It is open to the public and entry is free.
Juste-Aurèle Meissonier was a French goldsmith, sculptor, painter, architect, and furniture designer.
Ormolu is the gilding technique of applying finely ground, high-carat gold–mercury amalgam to an object of bronze, and for objects finished in this way. The mercury is driven off in a kiln leaving behind a gold coating. The French refer to this technique as "bronze doré"; in English, it is known as "gilt bronze". Around 1830, legislation in France had outlawed the use of mercury for health reasons, though use continued to the 1900s.
Charles Cressent (1685–1768) was a French furniture-maker, sculptor and fondeur-ciseleur of the régence style. As the second son of François Cressent, sculpteur du roi, and grandson of Charles Cressent, a furniture-maker of Amiens, who also became a sculptor, he inherited tastes, skills and aptitudes which contributed to his success as an artist. Even more important, perhaps, was the fact that he was a pupil of André Charles Boulle. Cressent's distinction is closely connected with the regency, but his earlier work had affinities with the school of Boulle, while his later pieces were full of originality.
Jacques Caffieri was a French sculptor, working for the most part in bronze.
The Louis XV style or Louis Quinze is a style of architecture and decorative arts which appeared during the reign of Louis XV. From 1710 until about 1730, a period known as the Régence, it was largely an extension of the Louis XIV style of his great-grandfather and predecessor, Louis XIV. From about 1730 until about 1750, it became more original, decorative and exuberant, in what was known as the Rocaille style, under the influence of the King's mistress, Madame de Pompadour. It marked the beginning of the European Rococo movement. From 1750 until the King's death in 1774, it became more sober, ordered, and began to show the influences of Neoclassicism.
Antoine-Robert Gaudreau was a Parisian ébéniste who was appointed Ébéniste du Roi and was the principal supplier of furniture for the royal châteaux during the early years of Louis XV's reign. He is largely known through the copious documentation of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne; he entered the service of the Garde-Meuble in 1726. However, since his career was spent before the practice of stamping Paris-made furniture began (1751), no stamped piece by Gaudreau exists and few identifications have been made, with the exception of royal pieces that were so ambitious and distinctive that they can be recognized from their meticulous inventory descriptions.
François de Cuvilliés, sometimes referred to as the Elder, was a Belgian-born Bavarian decorative designer and architect. He was instrumental in bringing the Rococo style to the Wittelsbach court at Munich and to Central Europe in general.
Nicolas Pineau (1684–1754) was a French carver and ornamental designer, one of the leaders who initiated the exuberant style of the French rocaille or Rococo. He worked in St. Petersburg and Paris.
Gilles-Marie Oppenordt was a celebrated French designer at the Bâtiments du Roi, the French royal works, and one of the initiators of the Rocaille and Rococo styles, nicknamed "the French Borromini". He specialized in interior architecture and decoration, though he has been connected with the furniture of Charles Cressent. His surname has also been spelled Oppenord and Oppenort.
Louis XVI style, also called Louis Seize, is a style of architecture, furniture, decoration and art which developed in France during the 19-year reign of Louis XVI (1774–1793), just before the French Revolution. It saw the final phase of the Baroque style as well as the birth of French Neoclassicism. The style was a reaction against the elaborate ornament of the preceding Baroque period. It was inspired in part by the discoveries of Ancient Roman paintings, sculpture and architecture in Herculaneum and Pompeii. Its features included the straight column, the simplicity of the post-and-lintel, the architrave of the Greek temple. It also expressed the Rousseau-inspired values of returning to nature and the view of nature as an idealized and wild but still orderly and inherently worthy model for the arts to follow.
Italian Neoclassical interior design refers to furnishing and interior decorating trends in Italy which occurred during the Neoclassical period
The Rococo Revival style emerged in Second Empire France and then was adapted in England. Revival of the rococo style was seen all throughout Europe during the 19th century within a variety of artistic modes and expression including decorative objects of art, paintings, art prints, furniture, and interior design. In much of Europe and particularly in France, the original rococo was regarded as a national style, and to many, its reemergence recalled national tradition. Rococo revival epitomized grandeur and luxury in European style and was another expression of 19th century romanticism and the growing interest and fascination with natural landscape.
A surtout de table is an ornamental centrepiece displayed on a formal dining table, "a large centerpiece with mirrored plateaus and numerous candelabra and other possible display pieces on top". In French surtout de table is the usual term for any type of centrepiece, but in English this "tray" type, along with the objects placed on it, is the usual meaning.
The furniture of the Louis XV period (1715-1774) is characterized by curved forms, lightness, comfort and asymmetry; it replaced the more formal, boxlike and massive furniture of the Louis XIV style. It employed marquetry, using inlays of exotic woods of different colors, as well as ivory and mother of pearl.
Louis XIV furniture was massive and lavishly covered with sculpture and ornament of gilded bronze in the earlier part of the personal rule of King Louis XIV of France (1660–1690). After about 1690, thanks in large part to the furniture designer André Charles Boulle, a more original and delicate style appeared, sometimes known as Boulle work. It was based on the use of marquetry, the inlay of piece of ebony and other rare woods, a technique first used in Florence in the 15th century, which was refined and developed by Boulle and others working for the King. Furniture was inlaid with thin plaques of ebony, copper, mother of pearl, and exotic woods of different colors in elaborate designs.
Louis XVI furniture is characterized by elegance and neoclassicism, a return to ancient Greek and Roman models. Much of it was designed and made for Queen Marie Antoinette for the new apartments she created in the Palace of Versailles, Palace of Fontainebleau, the Tuileries Palace, and other royal residences. The finest craftsmen of the time, including Jean-Henri Riesener, Georges Jacob, Martin Carlin, and Jean-François Leleu, were engaged to design and make her furniture.
The whiplash or whiplash line is a motif of decorative art and design that was particularly popular in Art Nouveau. It is an asymmetrical, sinuous line, often in an ornamental S curve, usually inspired by natural forms such as plants and flowers, which suggests dynamism and movement. It took its name from a woven fabric panel called "Coup de Fouet" ("Whiplash") by the German artist Hermann Obrist (1895) which depicted the stems and roots of the cyclamen flower. The panel was later reproduced by the textile workshop of the Darmstadt Artists Colony.