The book is organized chronologically, allowing the reader to see how the fashion for all things Oriental has inspired artistic innovation over the centuries. We first learn how the treasures brought back on the now legendary travels of Marco Polo excited the imaginations of Western connoisseurs. Then, we follow the origins of this style in the West, from its influences on the extravagant excesses of the Rococo, to the vogue for Chinese architectural follies, to the splendid adaptations by Nineteenth century masters such as James McNeill Whistler and Edgar Degas. The final chapter of the book describes how chinoiserie continues to thrive in the Twentieth century. Indeed, Eileen Gray and Paul T. Frankl are just two Modern designers who were seduced by the lure of the Far East.
There are also some other compelling features in this book. One is a glossary that lists some of the important terms and techniques used to describe aspects of the chinoiserie style. Some highlights of this section are brief entries about Chinese Chippendale, Coromandel lacquer, gilding, hard-paste porcelain, japonisme, rocaille, and soft-paste porcelain. A section devoted to Places to Visit is also a wonderful addition, as it offers readers some suggestions for the best places to view objects and architecture. Finally, Chinoiserie has a list of recommended books for those of us who want to learn more about this engaging and influential style.
Chinoiserie is available at Amazon.com.
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