views updated May 11 2018

Chinoiserie. Style of European architecture and artefacts in the Chinese Taste, intended to evoke China, first appearing in C17, and reaching the heights of delicacy and inventiveness in C18 and early C19, notably in Germany. Garden-buildings in the Chinese style include bridges (often with Chinese fret balustrades), summer- and tea-houses, and pagodas. The most celebrated examples are the Pagoda in Kew Gardens (1763) by Chambers (whose Designs of Chinese Buildings of 1757 was regarded as a source for pictures of Chinese architecture), the Tea House in the grounds of the palaces at Potsdam (1754–7) designed by King Frederick the Great (1740–86) and Büring, and the Chinese House, Drottningholm, Sweden, by Adelcrantz. In the 1750s buildings in the Chinese Taste and the Gothick style were regarded as relaxations from Classicism, and were treated almost as a branch of exotic Rococo. This is made clear in William Halfpenny's Chinese and Gothic Architecture (1752), while William and John Halfpenny's Rural Architecture in the Chinese Taste (1752–5) further popularized the style. The interiors of Brighton Pavilion have Chinoiserie elements, including some gaudy decorations by Frederick Crace (1779–1859). The jardin anglo-chinois was an informal, irregularly planned C18 garden, in which Chinoiserie touches could be found. See Sharawadgi.


Conner (1979);
Honour (1961);
Impey (1977);
Jacobson (1993);
O. Sirén (1990);
Vance (1985)


views updated Jun 08 2018


During the eighteenth century Europeans coveted Chinese imports and developed an intense interest in Chinese clothes, porcelain, tea, and other items. These items were known as chinoiserie. Europeans imported thousands of bolts of cloth to make Chinese-style clothing and wall and window coverings. European textile manufacturers learned Chinese dyeing techniques and soon printed cloth with Oriental scenes of pagodas, temples, and other Chinese-inspired objects. In addition, Europeans began dyeing cloth in colors once only seen on imported Chinese fabrics, including a pale golden yellow and a light green, called "Chinese green."

Some clothing styles imitated the Far East. The most popular was the banyan, an informal robe, worn by men at home instead of a justaucorps, or a suit coat. Some styles of banyan looked very similar to the cheongsam worn in early Asian cultures. The robe had a stand-up collar, long sleeves, and its opening crossed over the chest to tie just under the right shoulder. Other banyan styles imitated Indian jackets that buttoned up the front and were called Indian gowns. Banyans were made out of expensive silk or printed cotton. They were so popular in the late eighteenth century that many wealthy men had themselves painted wearing a banyan and cap instead of more formal clothing, which had been the norm for centuries. Other oriental styles and patterns would become popular in future eras, including the 1920s and the 1980s.


Halls, Zillah. Men's Costume: 17501800. London, England: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1973.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

[See also Volume 2, Early Asian Cultures: Cheongsam ]


views updated May 23 2018

chinoiserie the imitation or evocation of Chinese motifs and techniques in Western art, furniture, and architecture, especially in the 18th century.