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Article

Monique Riccardi-Cubitt

Term derived from chinois (Fr.: ‘Chinese’) denoting a type of European art dominated by Chinese or pseudo-Chinese ornamental motifs. The term is most often applied to decorative arts produced from the second half of the 17th century to the early 19th, when trading contacts between Europe and East Asia were at their height.

Although overland and sea routes had brought a steady supply of Asian spices, silk, furs, ivory and other commodities to the ancient world, it was Marco Polo who first fired the imagination of the West with his description of his travels and experiences at Kublai Khan’s court that he published after his return to Venice in 1295. Other travellers also recorded their tales, the most famous being the pseudonymous ‘Sir John Mandeville’ whose Travels was published in Lyons in 1480. Its fairy-tale evocation of the Near East and East Asia was translated into every European language and fuelled a longing for ‘Cathay’. This romantic vision, taking the various forms of Chinoiserie, ...

Article

J. Hardy

(b Spa, Belgium, 1657; d Bensberg, 1715).

Belgian Japanner, active in Berlin. He practised as a decorative artist in Spa before moving in the 1680s to Berlin, where he became famous for his painted furniture. By 1687 his proficiency in gilding and decorative painting, particularly japanning, which imitated lacquerwork from East Asia (see Lacquer, §I, 2), gained him the post of Kammerkünstler to Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg. On the accession in 1688 of Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg (after 1701, Frederick I of Prussia) he retained responsibility for interior decoration and furnishings at the court and in 1696 was appointed Intendant des Ornements. His brother Jacques Dagly (1665–1729) joined him in the management of the firm, which provided gilded, polychromed and japanned cabinets as well as such other furnishings as treen painted to imitate porcelain for the royal palaces. Their clients included harpsichord manufacturers as well as the nobility, and such was their fame that in Paris their cabinets became known as ‘Berlin’ cabinets. They embellished snuff-boxes, cane knobs, sword guards and tin wares and invented methods of applying ...

Article

Oscar P. Fitzgerald

Technique for imitating Asian Lacquer. Once Dutch and Portuguese traders imported lacquer ware from the Far East after 1700, Europeans became fascinated by this technique. Originating in ancient China, it spread to Japan where it is still practiced in the 21st century. The process involved the application of up to a hundred coats of lacquer produced from the sap of the Rhus vernicifera tree, native to China, Malaya, and Japan. Despite attempts to discover the secret, Europeans could not duplicate the process. Since the sap quickly congeals it did not travel well and was toxic like poison ivy.

In 1688 A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing by John Stalker and George Parker explained how to imitate the process by applying shellac dissolved in alcohol over a gessoed surface (see Stalker and Parker). Black was the most common color but red, white, blue, green, yellow, olive brown, and imitation tortoise shell (black streaked with vermillion) were also known. After designs were drawn on the surface, a mixture of red clay or sawdust, whiting, and gum arabic was daubed into the outlines and the raised images were sculpted with engraving tools and then colored with metal dust. A variation called ...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Article

Gordon Campbell

(b 1740; d 1829).

German japanner. His factory in Brunswick, which was established with the support of the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (reg 1735–80), was famous for fine, japanned papier-mâché snuff-boxes and similar items, painted with portraits, landscapes and genre scenes, made at his factory in Brunswick from 1765 until his death in 1829...

Article

(b Paris, 1742; d Paris, Dec 13, 1803).

French cabinetmaker. He was the son of a Parisian cabinetmaker and was an independent workman before becoming a maître-ébéniste on 14 July 1773. He specialized in marquetry, in particular Chinese-style figures, trophies, still-lifes and flower garlands (e.g. Baltimore, MD, Mus. A.). He also used veneers embellished with bronze mounts depicting such subjects as vases on a terrace or children playing with a cat (e.g. New York, Met.). He was also a dealer in ready-made marquetry motifs. He produced very few pieces of furniture, preferring to buy them from colleagues, decorate them and then sell them to the most famous cabinetmakers or marchand-merciers. A large number of small and prettily decorated pieces of furniture bear his signature (e.g. New York, Met.; Cincinnati, OH, A. Mus.; Detroit, MI, Inst. A.). He was declared bankrupt in 1789.

J. Viaux: Bibliographie du meuble (Mobilier civil français), 2 vols (Paris, 1966–88) G. de Bellaigue: ‘Charles Topino (1742–1803)’, ‘Möbelkunst und Luxusmarkt im 18. Jahrhundert’, ...