Les Fêtes Galantes or The Bantering Art of Seduction in 18th Century French Rococo

By Béa Aaronson

Sensuous dreams, voluptuous colors, cheeky amorous games, idealized idyllic pastoral settings, an aristocratic escapism before the tsunami of the Revolution, Les Fêtes Galantes, better translated as Courtship Parties, style was invented by Antoine Watteau, The Mozart of art, the master of subtlety, delight and pleasure, yet always oozing a dimension of sadness and subliminal anxiety.

“Les Fêtes Galantes or The Bantering Art of Seduction in 18th Century French Rococo”
Wed, Jan 7, 4:30 and 6:30pm
La Ostra Roja
A Casa Verde Annex
San Jorge 45
Colonia San Antonio (off Refugio Sur)
130 pesos
Reservations: 121 1026 or bea_aaronson@hotmail.com

It all happened during the Regency, a period of libertinage, frivolous relaxed mores, and economic bankruptcy after the death of Louis XIV in 1715, whose last reigning years were heavily obscured by bigotry and rigorous morality, so much so that the Sun King did not shine anymore, and even forbid the actors from La Comedia Dell’Arte to perform in Paris.

Louis XV was too young to sit on the throne, so the Duke Philippe of Orleans was made Regent. His perception of life and handling of France was a total embracing of hedonism and libertinage. The comedians returned, playful romantic love was in the air again, and feminine flesh was everywhere to be enjoyed. In the visual arts, and music too, this came to be known as Les Fêtes Galantes.

These amorous parties were the object of an exquisite exhibition at the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris, which I was privileged enough to savor a few months ago. I want to share with you their lightness of being, their nostalgic bewitching power, through an uncanny voyage into the French Rococo sensibility.

After Watteau, the genre continued well into the 18th century, with the paintings of Pater, Lancret, Boucher, and Fragonard.


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