Exhibitions - Musée Cernuschi

“Pagodes et Dragons, Exotisme et Fantaisie dans l’Europe Rococo”
23 February - 24 June 2007

This exhibition brings together an emblematic selection of 140 works and objects inspired by China and other far eastern countries. A diverse range of techniques (tapestry, porcelain, painting, jewellery) demonstrate the beauty and fantastical aspect of the rococo period (1690 - 1770).

Europe has been fascinated by the arts of the far east since the sixteenth century, making long and perilous journeys to bring these wonders home to Italy, Germany, France and England. Throughout the seventeenth century, European craftsmen imitated these objects, for fear that they would lose trade to the east. It wasn’t until the eighteenth century that Asian art began to stimulate the imagination of European craftsmen and artists, and, rather than merely imitating the pieces, they began to create original pieces outside of the Christian frame.

Previously, artists, writers and creators of all disciplines has used classical antiquity as a reference for their work. During the rococo period, the fascination with Chinese art led to an outpour of tapestries, architecture and paintings of exotic influences. This style was considered extravagant and bizarre on the one hand, and on the other, an idyllic world , protected from the violence which were tearing through Europe. For a brief period, the wisdom and tolerance of the Chinese, in opposition to the superstitions and brutality of the West was highly regarded, but after 1770, Europe turned to antiquity for its inspiration once again.

This exhibition explores this brief period in Europe’s history, during which it was realised that Europe was neither at the centre of the world, nor the only model of civilisation, before the Romantic period set in.




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