Certainly, much has been written about Orientalism and the Chinoiserie style, but few publications have put together so many instructive images in one place ~ modern and historic photographs of seldom-published interiors from St. Petersburg to Naples. Gaillard’s text lucidly explains the origins of the Western passion for the exotic and traces its development throughout Europe, from the restrained elegance of the 18th-century “Embroidered Room” in the Chinese Pavilion at the palace of Drottningholm, Sweden (above), to the pure exuberance of the late 19th-century Arab Hall at Leighton House in London (below). My one criticism is that, given the tremendous role that The Netherlands played in trade of ideas between East and West, there are no Dutch interiors included. The famous Chinese Room and Japanese Chamber at Huis ten Bosch in The Hague for starters. (But really, I am just being greedy.)
My only hope is that someone will write a similarly luxurious book on the exotic in America, beginning with the “Chinese Room” room at Gunston Hall in Virginia (one of the earliest such expressions of Chinoiserie in the colonies), to Olana, the famous Persian-style home of Frederic Edwin Church in the Hudson Valley, and the now lost Iranistan of P.T. Barnum (pieces of which can be seen at the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut).
All photographs courtesy of Vendome Press.
From top to bottom: 1) the “Embroidered Room” in the Chinese Pavilion at the palace of Drottningholm, Sweden; 2 and 3) elevation of the Arab Hall, Leighton House, London, built 1877 and 1899 by Geroge Aitchison, and a view of the actual hall; 4 and 5) detail of a tapestry, Asia, Sallandrouze Factory, after Jean-BaptisteAmédée Couder, 1844 (Musée du Louvre), and slant-top writing desk (once owned by Madame de Pompadour), attributed to Adrien Faizelot-Delorme (Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris); 6 and 7) detail of a long shawl designed by A. Berrus, manufactured in Paris, and a “sortie-de-bal” made from a cashmere shawl (Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris); 8) samples of woodblock-printed cotton, 1792 (Musée de la Jouy, Jouy-en-Josas, France).