Chinoiserie as Fantastic Decor of Yesterday and Today (II)

Written by Juliette Qi


Modern Living Room with Chinoiseries

Last time,we talked a lot about the birth and the development of the Chinoiserie between Europe and Asia. In this article, we invite you to discover how the term “chinoiserie” has evolved, from a word which means exotic objects to an artistic decorative style. Before that, let’s watch a video together to discover how to add a ” Chinoiserie Touche” to our home decor .


Initially, the word “chinoiserie” meant small subjects, fantastic animals or burlesque characters (called “magots” or “pagodas”) that European manufactories fabricated to imitate statuettes imported from collections from the Far East. These figures were generally colored with bright tones detached on a milky white background. They often served as table decor, candle holders or decorated clock frames.

Writing Desk in Painted Wood Decorated with Chinoiseries. 17th Century

As a style belonging to the court, chinoiserie quickly explanded to all the decorative art fields : textiles, ornaments, architecture, furniture, tapestries and porcelain. Fantastic Chinese characters settle on tables and consoles while their silhouettes decorated the body of the vases. Their ceremonies and living scenes are reproduced on tapestries or painted decorations. Candy boxes and cane handles take the form of Asian characters. Some oriental pavilions are built in gardens while some legendary Chinese characters dance on European opera stages.

Plate Decorated with a Chinese on a Mound. 18th Century.

However, even if the craftsmen sought to imitate oriental creative techniques (whose secrets have still not been revealed), their aesthetic catered to French taste above all others. Therefore, chinoiserie no longer attempted imitation but have become the results of authentic European creations based on Chinese themes.

François Boucher, « Le jardin chinois »

Including Antoine Watteau, Jean Pillement and François Boucher, the artists of the 18th century broke  with the style of the previous century, abandoning rigid models to embrace pleasure and dreams. China becomes the favorite motif for ornamental designers, in its most fantastic and fantasized dimension. Settled in decorative arts, intimate pieces and ornamental pavilions, chinoiserie was unburdened from the established practice and presented itself as one of the most original styles among the art of the Enlightenment.

Canvas Screen Painted with Chinoiserie after A Set by Jean-Baptiste Pillement

In the middle of the eighteenth century, the fantasy of rocaille cartridges gave way to quieter compositions. Grouped into small scenes alluding to fragments of great compositions, the characters represented engaged instead in peaceful activities, such as gardening or tea tasting. The Chinese-themed paintings, still numerous in the second half of the 18th century, depicted fragments of landscapes suspended in light networks of branches and foliage.

Aesthetic trend, ornamental style, decorative art…Chinoiserie is above all else a Western invention. It reflects European fantasies about a mythical Far East, about an alluring China filled with colorful birds, mountainous landscapes and fragile pagodas populated by phoenixes and dragons. From past to present, this style still functions as a bridge linking imagination and reality, the East and West as well as history and the future.




About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us, we would love to hear from you!



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