Chinoiserie is defined as the European interpretation and imitation of Chinese and other East Asian artistic traditions, especially in the decorative arts, garden design, architecture, literature, theatre, and music. Although these days it refers mostly to Blue and White Porcelain.
It began with the Silk Road or Silk Routes as they are now referred to. The term refers to a network of Eurasian trade routes active from the second century BCE. Spanning over 4,000 miles, they played a central role in facilitating economic, cultural, political, and religious interactions between the East and West.
The Portuguese and Dutch can be credited with bringing the first Blue and White Porcelain to Europe. Much of it came via the port at Canton. By the late 17th and early 18th century, Chinese and Asian influence was being embraced by Europeans. The trend became even more popular due to the popularity of tea from China and the rise in other trade with East Asia. As China began to export cobalt the Europeans started producing their own porcelain, especially tea ware. The demand was so high the Europeans couldn’t keep up, so they began importing Chinese porcelain, which began to take influence from English pottery shapes!
As the spending power of the British public increased in the 19th century, blue-printed pottery became immensely popular and nearly all the factories in Staffordshire made it in quantity. English Parliament reduced the heavy tax on tea, thus stimulating the demand for tea ware. However, England was at war with France so to raise funds, the government imposed a duty on silver, leading to a greater demand for pottery teapots. At the same time, imports of chinaware began to decline until, in 1799, the East India Company of London had none for sale and import duties on porcelain increased more than 100 percent.
Those owning Chinese dish sets found it hard to obtain replacements or additions and turned to Spode and other companies, who had previously copied the Chinese patterns on porcelain. Many other potters did likewise, as well as created new designs with an oriental appearance. Thus English blue and white likely became popular due to its similarity to Chinese porcelain.
Today Chinoiserie is experiencing a revival due to it’s affordability after being snubbed by the generation previous who didn’t want their parents antiques. The term Grand Millennial was coined and the Blue and White trends popularity once again is being felt world wide.
While thrift stores and tag sales were once flooded with these inexpensive antiques, this trend has elevated their desirability and hence their worth. And in response a flood of inexpensive low quality reproductions have hit the market. To this we say buyer beware!
When buying a reproduction we offer these tips, look for authenticity and quality, buy what you like and what you can afford. Do your research and buy from a knowledgeable and trusted seller. most important listen to your gut, if something seems expensive, ask questions and look for comparable items. Despite the lure of inexpensive prices and availability we caution against buying Blue and White Porcelain at discount stores. While there might be a few deals to be had, overall the quality and value of these items, is likely much less than you are paying.
Luxe Curations is proud to offer our very own authentic collection of Chinoiserie in our online shop. All of our pieces are beautifully handcrafted and ethically sourced. Make sure to browse our entire Chinoiserie collection on our website today.