Chinoiserie is a term for Western art and design inspired by a largely invented vision of China. Marco Polo’s sensational account of his visit to the exotic East in the 13th century sparked a fascination with China that reached a fever pitch in the 18th century and continues to this day.
Art historian and artist Aldous Bertram has long been captivated by chinoiserie. He organizes Dragons & Pagodas by theme, including porcelain, color and pattern, flora, fauna, people, architecture and tropical exoticism. Each chapter is bursting with images of everything from grand European summer palaces and whimsical pagoda follies to charming details of screens, porcelain figurines and ornate plasterwork, from modern rooms swathed in floral wallpaper to paintings, tapestries and palm-topped columns. Complete with Bertram’s own chinoiserie–inspired watercolors and collages, Dragons & Pagodas is an irresistible confection and an example of chinoiserie in its own right.
Aldous Bertram is an artist, illustrator, muralist, and interior designer who works for Lindroth Design. His interiors have been featured in House Beautiful and other design publications. He received his PhD from Cambridge University, specializing in the historical influence of China on English garden design and architecture. He created the effervescent watercolors for Amanda Lindroth’s recent Island Hopping (Vendome). He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.
This brilliantly illustrated, whimsical history of chinoiserie is just the read you’ll need as the leaves start to fall this autumn.
What a delight it is to look through this book, technicolour lavishness leaping from every page. Chapters are arranged by theme: porcelain, patterns, pavilions, and more, with striking imagery from historic and contemporary interiors.
House & Garden
The drama of colour, ornamentation and exoticism is sustained throughout this sumptuously illustrated book, yet there are highlights: from the astonishing pyramidal ceiling inside Lisbon’s Santos Palace featuring 261 carefully suspended Ming dynasty plates to the somewhat oppressive interior of the Tartar tent at the Château de Groussay created for Charles de Beistegui in 1960, and covered in 10,000 delft tiles… Written by an enthusiast, this is a book that might convert many to the cult of chinoiserie, that ‘alternative world of delightful otherness’.
The World of Interiors
Bertram takes us on a kaleidoscopic journey into the history of the term Chinoiserie, covering everything from architecture to patterns and palettes. While the entire tome is a feast for the eyes, we were especially drawn to his deep dive into porcelain and its enduring popularity.
In this inspiring and informative tome, Aldous Bertram explores the influence of Asia on design elements. . . . If you prefer your pretty pictures with a healthy dose of history and context, this book is for you.