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Furniture from the Chinese Room

Furniture from the Chinese Room

Inv. No. CE3/00435, CE3/00925, CE3/01042, CE3/01050, CE3/01155

The set of furniture in this Oriental room is the original from the palace. Its design reflects the oriental fashion that swept Europe in the 18th century and which was still featured in the 19th century. It includes a sofa, a stool, two chairs and a table. They are all finished with black lacquer and inlaid with mother-of-pearl, as is the ceiling lantern. The sofa and stools are upholstered with silk.

The style of the furniture is Chinese Chippendale, taking its name from Thomas Chippendale, who created the first comprehensive catalogue of furniture designs. Published in 1754, the catalogue included Chinese-inspired styles of furniture. The style can sometimes be characterised by the square or angular shape of the pieces and exaggerated latticework and plain ornamentation.

The lacquer is made from the resin extracted from the trunk of various species of the Rhus tree. It originates from China where it seems that it has been used since Antiquity as varnish to protect wood. The use of lacquer on diverse materials started to increase in the 3rd century. It was either used in its original shade or dyed different colours, mainly red or black. The use of lacquer was introduced into Japan (where it was called urushi) via Korea. In the 16th century lacquered pieces of furniture were exported on a massive scale to Europe, where imitations started to be made.

Items displayed in the Chinese Room, first floor.

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