Pot-pourri vase (1745-1749)
porcelain (soft-paste), gilt-bronze (ormolu)
(a-b) 15.2 x 18.2 x 17.0 cm (overall)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased through The Art Foundation of Victoria with the assistance of The Wynne Morris Collection, Governor, 1985
Chinoiserie refers to a style in Western art which draws its inspiration from the arts of China, Japan and India. European fascination with exotic materials like lacquer, silk and porcelain, combined with a paucity of accurate information on the great civilizations of Asia, gave rise to European artworks which reflect, not the real world of Asia, but European fantasies of the civilizations of China, Japan and India. With its origins in the seventeenth century, Chinoiserie in Europe attained its apogee in the mid-eighteenth century where it informed some of the most delightful and beautiful artistic productions of the period.
Through a juxtaposition of Asian and European art from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this exhibition will explore the European fascination with, and imaginings of, the ‘Orient’. Drawing from the collections of the NGV, with a few key loan works, the exhibition will showcase European Chinoiserie in a range of media – ceramics, furniture, glass, textiles, painting, prints and drawings. These Chinoiserie creations will be contrasted with examples of Asian art which illustrate both the inspiration for the European productions and how the European works depart from their Asian models. Examples of Asian works produced for the European market – Asian craftsmen working in the Chinoiserie fashion to satisfy European tastes – will illustrate the complex exchange of art and ideas between Europe and Asia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
This exhibition will be a cooperative undertaking by the departments of Asian Art and International Decorative Arts and will be staged in the Asian Art Temporary Exhibition Gallery. The exhibition will be curated by Carol Cains and Matthew Martin. The exhibition will be accompanied by a room brochure.