Chinoiserie Through the Ages
Recently, when I was in Monterey, I visited an august emporium of Asian antiques called Orientations. They have remarkable objects displayed in the historic galleries and gardens of the former G. T. Marsh & Sons building, one of America's first dealers of Orientalia. The building has recently been restored to emulate its original 1920's appearance. I think the garden with its moon type gates is particularly remarkable.
I have long been a student of Chinoiserie, which is essentially about how Eastern ideas translate in Western decoration. I marvel at how this influence adapts to fit the cadence and nuance of the prevailing western styles and fashions of the moment.
Chinoiserie buildings and interiors start in the 16th century and continue to the present, with the rooms created along the way revealing something about the generation for which they were made. The apogee of Chinoisere is the Brighton Pavilion, which was designed for the British Prince Regent in the early 19th century, with perhaps the low point being the less distinguished interiors of countless Chinese restaurants across the world.
Orientations has an art deco appearance appropriate for the dates of its construction. Other Chinoiseire buildings and interiors from the same date and time also share similar deco qualities. In fact, as these other rooms illustrates, art deco fostered a heyday for the Chinoisere. Hence, this "deco-chinoiserie" monument is a worthy a subject of preservation and study.
Images from top: Orientations in Monterey, California, photos by Thomas Jayne (4); an example of Deco-Chinoiserie, The Smoking Room on The Empress of Britain c. 1930; The Chinese Gallery of the Brighton Pavilion, c. 1838.