Thursday, August 25, 2011


A few days ago a romp through some of my favorite blogs brought me to a question about a usage in trade terminology. For whatever time I've known the term Chinoiserie, to me it has meant some sort of Oriental themed drawing on a lacquered surface. While wandering the blogosphere, I came across mention of Chinoiserie and the photos shown were of furniture pieces that were plain. Not plain in the sense of having no style but plain in that there were no Oriental figures, wobbly little trees or ladies with umbrellas painted on. That sent me on a search for a definition of Chinoiserie. Wikipedia has a full page of interesting information. Google Chinoiserie and the Wikipedia definition should be near the top of the page. I kept looking, promising myself to go back and read the whole thing on Wiki. I found a page advertising the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show from which I harvested the photo above. The definition given on that page is: "Western Art that incorporates or imitates Eastern design elements and techniques - a popular conceit across numerous styles for the past 400 years". Hmmm. That doesn't answer my question.  But wait, there's more: "Asian motifs, real and imagined, such as pagodas, parasols, flowers and birds have adorned all manner of architecture, interiors, furniture, decorative and fine arts". Chinoiserie. Who's gonna argue with San Francisco?

BTW, I'm also going back and read some of the links that showed up when I googled San Francisco Art Show. One could express great joy in the internet if there weren't so many glitches and opportunities spoiled by hitting the wrong button. I did that while writing this blog and it took forever to find the definition again. The next page that came in response to my query was just like the one I first saw in every way except there was a tiger where the Chinoiserie had been and no definition. Nothing if not tenacious. Some call it stubborn.  I found it again so that I could share it. 

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