The Brownrigg Blog | #001 | Chinoiserie

 

21 July 2015

"Chinoiserie” is a word used to describe a style heavily inspired and influenced by art and design from China, Japan and other Asian countries. The word itself comes from the French word “chinois”, meaning Chinese.

The style was born into Europe in the 17th century, and very much thrived in the mid 18th century when porcelain, silk and lacquerware imported from China and Japan were incredibly popular, and at the height of fashion. This in turn lead to many craftsmen and designers imitating designs from the East.

A great quality and of George I period, early 18th century English , black and gilt japanned bureau bookcase in original condition


A great quality and of George I period, early 18th century English , black and gilt japanned bureau bookcase in original condition
 

Here we show a Chinoiserie bureau bookcase in original condition
The designs would often be copied directly from popular Chinese objects. However, due to the fact that China was such a far-off, and relatively unknown place in 18th century Britain, the subject of the designs were often led astray by the designers own imagination, and not entirely accurate. This would lead to features such as whimsical contrasts of scale.

Here we have a wonderful 18th century Country House crewel work screen, of wonderful design and quality, being used as a background on our stand at the Battersea Decorative Fair.


Here we have a wonderful 18th century Country House crewel work screen, of wonderful design and quality, being used as a background on our stand at the Battersea Decorative Fair.
 

In furniture, “chinoiserie” is most often characterised by a black or a red lacquer finish, with fanciful painted or gilded decoration on top to add an extra touch of style. The true chinoiserie style and Asian influence is shown in the decoration, with many features such as pagodas, Chinese architecture, trees and plants, and often a crane or a crane-like bird – which many have adopted as the unofficial national bird of China – prominent.

Louis XV of France was a great pioneer of the Chinoiserie movement, due to the fact that integrated so wonderfully with the Rococo style that was thriving during the 18th century. Both Rococo and Chinoiserie share similar characteristics in the element of fantasy and the elegant and scrolling forms. At Chateau de Chantilly, he even had an entire room painted with chinoiserie compositions to intertwine with the Rococo style interior.

A very good quality and with a lovely shape, Georgian continental commode retaining the original chinoiserie decoration and handles.


A very good quality and with a lovely shape, Georgian continental commode retaining the original chinoiserie decoration and handles.
 

One of the earliest Chinoiserie interiors in Britain however, was commissioned just a stone's throw away from our Tetbury showroom, at Badminton House in Gloucestershire. In approximately 1754, father and son furniture manufacturers William and John Linell designed an incredibly dramatic Chinoiserie bedroom for the 4th Duke and Duchess of Beaufort. The most notable piece made for the Duke and Duchess was the wonderful bed, complete with a pagoda-like canopy. It was even embellished with dragons, had an imitation lacquer surface in red, blue and gold, and decorative latticework.

A high quality, hand painted Chinoiserie wallpaper.


A high quality, hand painted Chinoiserie wallpaper.
 

In today's world, the ancient style has been adapted and expanded to fit unassumingly into the modern home. Features ranging from the furniture to the wallpaper, curtains and other textiles are hugely popular due to the wonderfully inviting colours, patterns and designs. The fact that the style works so well in a modern and contemporary setting, as well as a more classical and traditional interior, is part of the reason why we believe that Chinoiserie interiors will be around for a long time, and remain a popular choice in interiors throughout the world.

 

A very stylish and with a lovely warm colour, circa 1940s French armchair in bamboo, with chinoiserie motif.


A very stylish and with a lovely warm colour, circa 1940s French armchair in bamboo, with chinoiserie motif.
 

Here at Brownrigg, we have a large and ever-expanding collection of Chinoiserie furniture and decorative items. Please view our selection below, and browse the website for more items.

A very fine quality and with a lovely colour, George II period small carved walnut sofa, upholstered in petit point tapestry, in front of a fine Chinoiserie hand painted wallpaper.


A very fine quality and with a lovely colour, George II period small carved walnut sofa, upholstered in petit point tapestry, in front of a fine Chinoiserie hand painted wallpaper.
 

A good quality and of very elegant proportions, late 18th century walnut, mahogany and marquetry, Dutch demi-lune cabinet, with a lovely colour.  The two curved doors with a marquetry frame representing a ribbon holding a framed Chinoiserie panel.


A good quality and of very elegant proportions, late 18th century walnut, mahogany and marquetry, Dutch demi-lune cabinet, with a lovely colour. The two curved doors with a marquetry frame representing a ribbon holding a framed Chinoiserie panel.