Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chinoiserie at the Louvre

One of the MUSTS for me in Paris was to visit the galleries of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs at the Louvre. It did not disappoint with an emormous collection, each piece more amazing than the last. The museum fills an enormous wing of the Louvre with one collection (by period) per floor. I was most excited to visit the collection of 18th century arts where we spent most of our time; and you can't have a display of 18th century decorative arts without some chinoiserie.A small display showed off the best of the best. Displayed against red lacquer panels, I think my favorite aspect was how colorful it all was!Above you see a lot of items that show the rococo influence also popular at the time. Chinoiserie really gained stride through rococo as the fantasty of it really mixed well with the design style's ideals. However, by the late 18th century, strict neoclassicism was in vogue and fanciful chinoiserie was mostly out. Chinoiserie wasn't about accurate Chinese design but rather a westerner's take on it: theater.The movement of chinoiserie really began with the import of china from the 'far east' in the 17th century and spread from there to include other household items, even entire buildings (although the style was mostly relegated to follies or particular rooms).Chinoiserie was especially popular in France, thanks in part to Louis XIV and Madame du Barry who had a special fondness for it. Even the term is French (chinese-esque)!
Later the theme began to include exotic 'Turkish' touches as well, although I didn't see much evidence of that in the collection.I'll end with this fantastic French barometer / thermometer which was in a case with a lot of china (which you know I loved). Small statues of men are housed in a pagoda form, on which rests a small tube of mercury (see it between the 2 statues at the base). Now if only I could find something like this on ebay......
For more on chinoiserie read a great summary on Wikipedia
and see current applications of the again popular style online at the Chinoiserie Chic Blog!

9 comments:

Landscape Designer said...

Stefan, Thank you for planning my next trip to Paris!!
Oh, and the hotel is near Laduree?
Always enjoy your posts.
Sandra Jonas

custardbydesign said...

i think i'm more of a fan of the red lacquer panels than the artefacts in the cases...

great exhibiton though....

home before dark said...

The red is staggeringly beautiful. What lovely images you are carrying around in that brain of yours!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Sandra -there is a Laduree right in St Germaine (somehwat near the institut de France!) - also a Mariage Freres!

Custard -the red panels are AMAZING! Would love a living room lined with them.

HBD - I try! haha Sometimes there isn't much else going on up there!

pve design said...

If you ever give up your career as an Architect, I think you would make a swell tour guide Monsieur!
pve

Style Redux 2 said...

Lovely post and thanks for the mention of Chinoiserie Chic.

Renee Finberg said...

well, as you might have heard through the blog-vine, i am having a miserable day.
ugh.
and now i am sitting here with my eyes popping out of my head.
so, with my brain popping out and now my eyes popping....

gorgeous , thank you
xxxx

Janet said...

I looooove that blue writing desk...in fact I did a post on it ages ago...will have to see if I can dig it up!

daews said...

Love the red but find most poeple like the black I think its because there is black with it, chests ect. Please drop in and view my blog sometime plenty of chinoiserie on it www.daews.blogspot.com