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Chinoiserie

Fanciful European designs produced under the influence of Chinese art, based on superficial western concepts of things Chinese. The term is usually reserved for objects made in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Chinese art reached Europe by early travellers and through the East India trading companies in the 17th and 18th centuries who imported large quantities Chinese lacquers and porcelains highly prices appealed mostly to teh affluent parst of the society. Dutch ceramics quickly showed the influence of Chinese blue-and-white porcelains. In the middle of the 18th cent. the enthusiasm for Chinese objects affected practically every decorative art applied to interiors, furniture, tapestries, and bibelots and supplied artisans with fanciful motifs of scenery, human figures, pagodas, intricate lattices, and exotic birds and flowers.

In France the Louis XV style gave especial opportunities to chinoiserie, as it blended well with the established rococo. Whole rooms, such as those at Chantilly, were painted with compositions in chinoiserie, and Watteau and other artists brought consummate craftsmanship to the style. Thomas Chippendale, the chief exponent in England, produced a unique and decorative type of furniture.

The craze early reached the American colonies. Chinese objects, particularly fine wallpapers, played an important role in the adornment of rooms, and especially in Philadelphia the style had a pronounced effect upon design. 1

Source: H. Honour (1961).

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