Sunday, May 4, 2014

Baroque and Rococo in Disney's "The Princess and the Frog"

This post contains spoilers about minor/ secondary characters in Princess and the Frog.  This post does not contain spoilers concerning the plot or the main story line.  

The image on the left is a balcony on the LaBouff family mansion from Princess and the Frog.  The image on the right is Il Gesu in Rome, the source of baroque architectural vocabulary.  From top to bottom, we see a pinnacle attached to a curved broken pediment, a cornice, dentals, two engaged pilasters, volutes (supporting the balcony), and garlands.  Il Gesu in Rome, contains the every architectural element of the LaBouff mansion except for the garlands.  It is difficult to classify whether the LaBouff mansion is baroque or rococo.  The asymmetry of the house, which will become even more distinct in the following pictures, coupled with the "frivolous" bow-studded garlands, seem to place it in the Rococo.  However, the sun emblem in the center of the broken curved pediment, a symbol of the Louis the XIV, would likely have been rejected by the Rococo as a symbol of the French monarchy it sought to distance itself from.  Additionally, we encounter features that are not consistent with either the Baroque or the Rococo, such as the metal railing and square columns on the balcony.           

 LaBouff Family Mansion
Things the LaBouff family mansion has in common with the Château de Maisons-Laffitte: the iconic Mansart roof, a central double stairwell,  pediments over the windows, and balistrades.  The LaBouff family mansion from The Princess and the Frog seems to combine French Baroque/ Rococo architecture with the American plantation style.  We know from their last name that the LaBouff family is most likely French, which makes sense, seeing as most of the movie takes place in and around New Orleans (which was founded by the French).  It is interesting to note that Eli LaBouff, the patriarch of the LaBouff family, is a sugar baron.  Thus, the LaBouff family home perfectly communicates through its architecture, the history of the LaBouff family.  Baroque and Rococo were architectural styles consumed by French aristocrats and the American Plantation style was prevalent among wealthy land owners in the states.  From the architecture alone, we know that the LaBouff family consists of wealthy American land owners who immigrated from France.  Their name, the location in which the movie takes place, and their character development in the movie, all confirms this.  
Caution: This link contains MAJOR spoilers for pretty much the entire movie.  It also goes a little more into the character and history of Eli "Big Daddy" LaBouff.

The LaBouff mansion interior is heavily influenced by Rococo.  The piece of furniture pictured in this shot from The Princess and the Frog is a Venetian style, gilded, bombe commode.  It most closely resembles the commode to the upper left, which is actually a modern re-creation of Rococo during the reign of Louis XV ( However, it also clearly retains elements from the actual antique 18th century Venetian commode pictured on the upper right.  (

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