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Zoom Rental | Borrowed Landscapes: The Influence of China and Japan on the English Country House

April 5 @ 12:00 pm - April 19 @ 1:00 pm

Borrowed Landscapes: The Influence of China and Japan on the English Country House

An English lacquer cabinet, c.1690, in the Morning Room at Saltram, Devon.

From the 17th century onwards, Chinese and Japanese art and ornamentation influenced the design and decoration of interiors and gardens in Britain and Ireland. The importation of Chinese and Japanese luxury goods—lacquer, porcelain, embroidered silk, wallpaper, etc.—allowed designers and homeowners to incorporate these objects into their interiors. The East India Companies also commissioned objects from Chinese and Japanese artisans, incorporating European forms and Western patterns.

However, British designers and artisans also created their own fanciful interpretations of Asian styles and forms, often mistaking the original meaning or purpose behind the designs. These Western-created hybrid styles have been known as chinoiserie and japonisme and remain popular in decoration and design. Over the centuries, even as China and Japan became better known to Europeans, the fictional idea of what is ‘oriental’ remained prevalent in Western design.

Emile de Bruijn, will explore the impact of Chinese and Japanese material culture on British historic houses and gardens, based on the research he undertook (and the photography that was commissioned) for his new book Borrowed Landscapes. De Bruijn will illustrate how elements of Chinese and Japanese culture were admired but often misunderstood by Western craftsmen. He will also show how resulting designs were both idealized and desired, while dismembered and caricatured. Finally, he will explain how the collection of Asian objects in British and Irish country houses and the use of Asian design elements in Western furniture was not just about appropriation but also reflected admiration and an attempt by designers to appeal to the senses and admiration of the beholder.

Emile de Bruijn

Emile de Bruijn studied Japanese at Leiden University, the Netherlands, and museology at Essex University, United Kingdom. After working in the Japanese and Chinese art departments of the auctioneers Sotheby’s, he joined the National Trust where he currently has the role of Assistant National Curator of Decorative Arts. In 2017 he published the monograph Chinese Wallpaper in Britain and Ireland, and his latest book is Borrowed Landscapes: China and Japan in the Historic Houses and Gardens of Britain and Ireland (2023).


April 5 @ 12:00 pm
April 19 @ 1:00 pm
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Zoom Rental | Borrowed Landscapes: The Influence of China and Japan on the English Country House
$ 25.00