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  • What's in a Chinese Room? 20th Century Chinoiserie, Modernity and Femininity

Cheang, Sarah, 2008, Book Section, What's in a Chinese Room? 20th Century Chinoiserie, Modernity and Femininity In: Chinese Whispers: Chinoiserie in Britain 1650-1930. The Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, Brighton, pp. 74-81. ISBN 978-0-948723-71-1

Abstract or Description:

The first three decades of the twentieth century saw a resurgence in chinoiserie in the West. This chapter uses primary sources to provide an original exploration of the ways in which 'Chinese' styles of interior design, furniture and fashion were used in Britain to communicate modern feminine identities. Marked out as an indulgent, fanciful, and hence feminine and irrational style choice, early 20th century British chinoiserie drew heavily on its previous incarnations, such as 18th century wallpapers and Chippendale chinoiserie chairs, and yet fitted well with the colour and exoticism of modern art and design. Both old and new, elite yet commonplace, the fantastical but reassuringly familiar nature of 'Chinese' design made chinoiserie a potent vehicle for the expression of modern British femininities. The chapter forms the culmination of an edited collection produced as the catalogue for the exhibition 'Chinese Whispers: Chinoiserie in Britain 1650-1930', Brighton Museum and the Royal Pavilion, 3 May- 2 November 2008, of which Sarah Cheang curated the 20th century section. The exhibition received extensive and highly positive national press coverage and was awarded Best Temporary Exhibition at the Museum and Heritage Awards 2009. The catalogue was praised as ‘insightful’ and the ‘What’s in a Chinese Room’ essay was singled out as ‘excellent’ (Burlington Magazine October 2008) and widely quoted. The production of the catalogue was supported by a Paul Mellon grant.

Subjects: Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V100 History by period > V140 Modern History > V145 Modern History 1900-1919
Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V100 History by period > V140 Modern History > V146 Modern History 1920-1949
Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V200 History by area > V210 British History
Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W230 Clothing/Fashion Design
Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W250 Interior Design
Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W260 Furniture Design
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Copyright Holders: The author and Brighton The Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2012 15:18
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2012 15:18
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/969

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