SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Classical Chinoiserie: Framing Chinese Ceramics at Brighton Pavilion and Buckingham Palace

Greg M. Thomas

Date: 27 May 2011Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 27 May 2011Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B111

Type of Event: Seminar

Abstract: Chinoiserie is still widely regarded as a distortion of Chinese visual arts based on European exoticizing and misunderstanding of a remote alien culture. This paper argues that instead, Chinoiserie was a distinct and productive aesthetic system based on harmonizing Chinese and European aristocratic arts, creating a coherent international visual culture. In analyzing specifically how Chinese ceramics were integrated into the interior designs of Brighton Pavilion and Buckingham Palace during the 19th century, the paper suggests that Chinoiserie continued to function in England as an innovative model of intercultural communication among England, France, and China even as England and France dominated China militarily.

Biography: Greg M. Thomas obtained his PhD in art history from Harvard University in 1995 and is an Associate Professor at The University of Hong Kong. A specialist in 19th-century French art, he is the author of Art and Ecology in Nineteenth-Century France: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau (Princeton University Press, 2000) and Impressionist Children: Childhood, Family, and Modern Identity in French Art (Yale University Press, 2010). His research in recent years has focused on artistic interactions between Europe and China in the 18th and 19th centuries, centered especially on French and British interactions with the Chinese palace of Yuanming Yuan.

Organiser: Lukas Nickel

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