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Domesticating the Exotic: Recent Research into Chinese Wallpaper

Ballot and Ordinary Meeting of Fellows (Fellows and Guests Only)

‘Domesticating the Exotic: Recent Research into Chinese Wallpaper’

Emile de Bruijn

The Collections Registrar at the National Trust discussed the results of the recent project to catalogue the Chinese wallpapers in the historic houses of the National Trust. Comparison between the different examples owned by the National Trust and others elsewhere has provided greater insight into the development of this early-modern global product. It is becoming clearer that these wallpapers were not merely ‘export art’ but that they closely reflect the style and iconography of the Chinese professional painting tradition. More is also coming to light about how the Chinese wallpaper was traded, hung and appreciated in Britain. A multi-disciplinary approach has proved crucial in understanding the social, economic and art-historical aspects of this hybrid art form.