Chinoiserie: The (Re)making of a Style
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The author traces the growing appetite for Chinese art and design in Western Europe in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. European artists and artisans started to include Chinese elements into their own art. Later scholars would eventually use the term chinoiserie to refer to such Chinese inspired European art. The definition of chinoiserie, however, remains vague and problematic. Most art historians use the term to exclusively refer to European art produced in the Eighteenth Century that was an entirely European fantasy of China. Chinoiserie, according to this view, had almost nothing to do with the real China. The epitome of chinoiserie, as these art historians argue, is the fanciful, unrealistic Rococo-chinoiserie style of French painter Francois Boucher. The author argues that most current definitions of chinoiserie have failed to accurately describe what happened in Europe and China. Chinoiserie art was made not only in Europe, but also in China. In contrast to the painting-centric, Rococo-centric approach that most researches on chinoiserie have undertaken, this paper explores the nature and development of chinoiserie in the fields of ceramics and architecture. By examining these two major aspects of this artistic movement, the author explores the raison d'etre of chinoiserie.