CHI­NOIS­ERIE

When it comes to find­ing spe­cial things for our homes, dreams of the East are rarely far from our minds, finds

Homes and Antiques Magazine - - WELCOME - DO­MINIQUE COR­LETT STYLING ANNA MAL­HOMME DE LA ROCHE PHO­TO­GRAPHS KATYA DE GRUN­WALD

From the French Chi­nois, meaning ‘in the Chi­nese style’, the look reached its peak in the 18th cen­tury

With their exquisitely de­tailed scenes of colour­ful birds nes­tled among the blos­som of cherry trees, or of el­e­gant Chi­nese ladies fan­ning them­selves be­side a bub­bling stream, rich and lus­trous chi­nois­erie wall­pa­pers were once the pre­serve of palaces and stately homes. To­day, these wall­pa­pers are as likely to adorn the walls of met­ro­pol­i­tan apart­ments and sub­ur­ban ter­races. Chi­nois­erie (from ‘ Chi­nois’ French for Chi­nese and meaning ‘dec­o­rated in a Chi­nese style’) is a look that has cap­ti­vated our imag­i­na­tions for over 300 years, and as the cur­rent trend for the wall­pa­per and other pieces such as ce­ramic birds, blue-and-white china and lac­quered boxes and fur­ni­ture shows, it is one that is still go­ing strong to­day.

The fash­ion for bring­ing the ori­en­tal into our homes be­gan in the 17th cen­tury, when the English aris­toc­racy couldn’t get enough of the rare and ex­otic wares trick­ling in from the Far East. It reached its peak in the mid 18th cen­tury, when no coun­try house was com­plete with­out a Chi­nese room, and came to the fore again in the early 19th cen­tury. At this time, Ge­orge IV out­did ev­ery­body by cre­at­ing what re­mains the grand­est chi­nois­erie in­te­rior in Bri­tain, and per­haps the world, at the Royal Pavil­ion in Brighton.

First glimpses of the East

Ac­cord­ing to art and de­sign his­to­rian and An­tiques Road­show ex­pert Paul At­ter­bury, Bri­tain’s ob­ses­sion with the Far East be­gan early, with arte­facts mak­ing their way from China along the Silk Road dur­ing the Tu­dor pe­riod.

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