Relevant categories: Tables,Dressers and Sideboards,Art Deco
(Above photo - French Chiffonier Sideboard Chinoiserie Rosewood 1930s )
You’ve probably heard of the word chinoiserie and how it refers to white and blue porcelain. However, chinoiserie refers to much more than that. It was widely used on clothes, glossy lacquered furnishings, foo dogs, etc. This article discusses everything you should know about the modern decorating method, just about anything in the home. Keep reading to learn more about it:
(Above photo - Chinoiserie is the imitation or evocation of Chinese motifs and techniques in Western art )
Chinoiserie is derived from the French term chinois, referring to Chinese. It didn’t directly originate from China but was a Western interpretation of Chinese culture and decorative arts. In the 17th century, trade between Europe and Asia flourished, exposing Westerners to Chinese art forms. Traders returned with artifacts from which they sought to imitate Asian art and culture.
The new style works perfectly with rococo designs, which feature lavish embellishments. Chinoiserie found its way to palaces, with France’s Louis XV and England’s King George IV adopting it. At that time, people in Europe had just taken to the tea-drinking tradition. They needed elaborate tea sets, tea chests, tea tables, and other items, which featured chinoiserie decorations.
(Above photo -
Pair Regency Bedside Chests Chinoiserie Nightstands )
Nature Scenes: The advent of chinoiserie coincided with the growing popularity of wallpaper in European homes. Thanks to its appeal, chinoiserie became the preferred design for the upper class. Only a few people could afford these wallpapers since they were primarily handmade and expensive.Even though seemingly similar, chinoiserie decorations had different motifs, including the following:
Pagodas: Pagodas are an integral part of the architecture in China. However, they were first used by the Indians for their sacred sites. With the coming of Buddhism, the Chinese also adopted pagodas. As a Chinese regional style, pagodas were often used to make chinoiserie.
Dragons: Dragons are an integral part of Chinese folklore and mythology. They symbolize good luck and strength. Historically, European emperors loved dragon motifs on their palace interiors and clothing. Today, you can find chinoiserie with dragon motifs on works of art, silkscreens, and ceramics.
Foo Dogs: The Chinese life for foo dogs dates back to Imperial China. Even though they are called foo dogs, the animals are lions that were made to stand guard in front of temples and palaces. They usually come in male-female pairs to represent the yin and yang balance. Because of their cultural significance, they also found their way into chinoiserie decorations.
(Above photo - Art Deco Chinoiserie Cabinet)
Chinoiserie furnishings were mainly made from wood or faux bamboo. They are produced using several layers of tree sap to create a glossy finish, followed by intricate carvings, inlaid details, and hand-painted scenes. In the 18th century, the style was preferred by Thomas Chippendale, a British furniture maker.
You cannot discuss chinoiserie without mentioning porcelain and ceramics. It required intricate skill and craftsmanship to produce a single piece of porcelain. Even though European designers learned the trade, they couldn’t make acceptable items like those made in China.
If you’re looking for chinoiserie items to buy, we have a comprehensive collection in our shop.
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