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Exhibition of Superb Collection of Asian and European Decorative Art Opens in Melbourne
Chinese Teapot, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period c.1760–80. Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, South-east China (teapot) Canton (Guangzhou), Guangdong province, South-east China (decoration) porcelain, gilt (guangcai ware) 13.2 x 18.8 x 11.2 cm (overall) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Gift of Mrs Oscar Hammerstein 2nd, 1961.
MELBOURNE.- The National Gallery of Victoria will present a superb collection of Asian and European decorative art from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Chinoiserie: Asia in Europe 1620–1840.

Opening 9 October, Chinoiserie will explore the European fascination with the ‘Orient’ and will feature works in a range of media including ceramics, furniture, glass, textiles, painting, prints and drawings.

Chinoiserie will include over 180 works drawn from the NGV’s Asian and European collections, as well as key loans, and will illustrate the historical development of the style in Europe.

The term Chinoiserie was coined in the nineteenth century for a decorative style that takes its inspiration from Asian art and design but ultimately reflects European visions of Asia.

Carol Cains, Curator Asian Art, NGV said: “The works in this exhibition reflect not the real world of Asia, but European fantasies of the civilisations of China, Japan and India.

“European fascination with exotic materials like lacquer, silk and porcelain, combined with a lack of accurate information on Asia, gave rise to Chinoiserie,” said Ms Cains.

Chinoiserie in Europe gained its momentum in the mid-eighteenth century where it informed some of the most delightful and beautiful artistic productions of the period, becoming absorbed above all in the whimsical taste of the Rococo.

Dr Matthew Martin, Assistant Curator, Decorative Arts, NGV said the early modern encounter with Asia had a profound impact on Europe.

“These works illustrate the complex exchange of art and ideas between Europe and Asia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. European fascination with the exotic saw Asia and its products become a focus of both imitation and imagination,” said Dr Martin.

Dr Gerard Vaughan, Director, NGV said: “This truly astonishing exhibition demonstrates the breadth and depth of the NGV Collection. It will delight visitors, showcasing the NGV’s rich array of European and Asian decorative arts.”

Chinoiserie: Asia in Europe 1620–1840 will be on display at NGV International, St Kilda Road from 9 October 2009 to 14 March 2010. NGV International is open 10am–5pm, closed Tuesdays. Admission to this exhibition is free.


The National Gallery of Victoria | Chinoiserie | Carol Cains | Dr Gerard Vaughan |


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