Second Empire: Rococo Revival

Developing in France, Second Empire is an international architectural style characterized by a mansard roof, pavilions, and bold details. Although evident in earlier buildings, these elements come together in the New Louvre in Paris built during the reign of Napoleon III. In Europe and America, the style carries associations of elegance, sophistication, and complitanism.


Common in the second empire are columns, swags, cartouchs, pediments, and relief sculpture. Rococo Revival motifs include C and S scrolls, female masks, vines, shells, grapes, roses, flowers, leaves, acorns, nuts, and birds.


Types of buildings include commercial offices, government offices, town halls, art galleries, retail structures, theaters, railway stations, and grand hotels. Residential buildingsUrban style manions, apartment buildings, and row houses. A few smaller subuaban or rual examples exist in America.

  • Typical building materials are stone, granite, marble – Europe
  • Brick and Iron-USA
  • Walls and details contrast in material and color
  • Mulitstory buildings have cast iron facades
  • The formal planning reflects the function of the building
  • Floor plans are symmetrical  
  • Mansard roofs return
  • Two-over-two windows are common.

Fichier:Québec - Hôtel du Parlement 3.jpg


No particular room types are associated with Second Empire. The Rococo Revival types includeare the parlors, both public and private, bedrooms, boudoirs, and ladiesretiring rooms.

  • Main colors are usually high saturated colors
  • Crimson, blue, green, and gold
  •  Parlor or drawing rooms may have white and gold furniture covered in blue, red, or green
  • Carpet is limited to bedrooms, drawing rooms, or parlor rooms
  • Draperies are usually curved and soft in appearance


Furnishing and Decorative Arts







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