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Chinoiserie Rooms

Early Chinoiserie did not appear in formal spaces like grand entries or dining halls but rather in intimate spaces such as bed chambers, private parlors, and dressing rooms. This inclination to adorn private spaces with Chinoiserie decoration grew out of an earlier fashion for small rooms called cabinets. Starting around 1600, European aristocrats began collecting exotic trinkets of foreign trade including shells mounted with gold, tortoiseshell combs and accessories,, porcelains and, lacquerwares They also collected natural wonders such as pressed flowers, stuffed animals, and unusual rocks and minerals. All were kept in "cabinets of curiosities," and sparked the fascination with Asian imports, which in turn fueled the taste for Chinoiserie. During the 1680s, the fashion for Chinoiserie spread out into bed chambers and small parlors where stylish people often gathered to partake of coffee and tea, drinks only recently introduced to the West via trade with eastern lands.

The small room in an English house photographed here features colorful laquered panels installed in the walls.