Exhibition | China at Versailles: Art and Diplomacy in the 18th Century

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 30, 2014

From the Château de Versailles:

China at Versailles: Art and Diplomacy in the 18th Century
Château de Versailles, 27 May — 26 October 2014

Audience granted to the King of Siam’s ambassadors, 1 September 1686, at the Palace of Versailles Etching on copper in black and burin At Pie. Landry rue St. Jacques at St. François de Sales Almanac for the year 1687 (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Audience granted to the King of Siam’s ambassadors, 1 September 1686, at the Palace of Versailles, Etching on copper in black and burin At Pie. Landry rue St. Jacques at St. François de Sales, Almanac for the year 1687 (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France)

The Palace of Versailles presents China at Versailles: Art and Diplomacy in the 18th Century, organised for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between France and China. The exhibition follows the history of political and artistic exchanges between China and France during the 18th century. The paintings, furniture, lacquerware, porcelains and tapestries exhibited bear testimony to the extreme luxury of their time and are very rare today. The approximately 150 works gathered together for the exhibition illustrate France’s taste for Chinese artistic productions and reveal the interest among Europeans for descriptions of China throughout the 18th century.

A Political and Cultural Dialogue

In 1688, Louis XIV undertook a diplomatic policy that was to lead to high-level scientific and intellectual exchanges between France and China. By sending French Jesuits to the court in Beijing, the Sun King developed privileged, lasting relations with the Kangxi Emperor, his contemporary. Correspondence and exchanges intensified under the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI. The two countries developed unique diplomatic relations. The political and intellectual ties that were forged between France and China led to a veritable golden age of diplomatic relations between the two countries up to the French Revolution.


Claude-Louis Châtelet, View of the Chinese Ring Game; drawing in black chalk, watercolour and gouache; excerpt from Recueil des vues et plans du Petit Trianon à Versailles, under the direction of Richard Miquet, 1786.

Chinese Art at Versailles

Porcelains, wallpaper, lacquerware, fabrics and silks: Chinese artistic productions aroused a great deal of interest in France starting in the 18th century. Under the reign of Louis XIV, France’s taste for ‘lachine’ or ‘lachinage’ was attributed to the gifts brought from the Far East by the King of Siam’s ambassadors in 1686. This appetite for Chinese art can also be seen in what was later to be called ‘la chinoiserie’, a trend in tastes that took on various forms:
• imitations of Chinese art,
• influence of Chinese art on French art,
• adaptation of oriental materials to French tastes,
• but also the creation of an imaginary, peaceful China.

Although the French sovereigns, protectors of the arts, could not openly display their taste for China in the royal apartments, many pieces of Chinese artwork decorated their private apartments at Versailles and Trianon.

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Published by Somogy, the catalogue as described at the Château de Versailles:

Marie-Laure de Rochebrune, Anne-Cécile Sourisseau, and Vincent Bastien, eds., La Chine à Versailles: Art et Diplomatie au XVIIIe Siècle (Paris: Somogy éditions d’Art, 2014), 280 pages, ISBN: 978-2757208137, 39€.

816427C2-95D1-BE0D-1E36-E85F853B5D44FileL’exposition La Chine à Versailles: Art et diplomatie au XVIIIe siècle retrace l’histoire des échanges politiques, scientifiques et artistiques entre la France et la Chine au siècle des Lumières.

Peintures, meubles, laques, gravures, porcelaines, livres précieux, tapisseries… les chefs-d’oeuvre exposés au château de Versailles témoignent du luxe raffiné de leur époque. Ils illustrent, dès le règne de Louis XIV, le goût français pour les productions artistiques chinoises. Ils révèlent aussi l’intérêt de la cour de Versailles pour l’Extrême-Orient, suscité par les descriptions que les jésuites envoyés en Chine rédigèrent dès la fin du XVIIe siècle.

Les cent cinquante oeuvres rassemblées dans cette exposition ‘évènement’ proviennent des plus grandes institutions françaises (musée du Louvre, musée Guimet, Bibliothèque nationale, etc.) et étrangères (collections royales anglaises, musée de l’Ermitage à Saint-Pétersbourg, etc.) ainsi que de collections particulières.

More information about the catalogue (in French) is available as PDF file here»

Walpole Library Fellowships for 2014–15

Posted in fellowships by Editor on May 30, 2014

The Lewis Walpole Library is delighted to announce the recipients of fellowship and travel grant awards for the 2014–2015 academic year:


• Sophie Coulombeau, University of York, John Trusler’s Memoirs
• Leigh-Michil George, UCLA, Comical Consciousness: Caricature and the Novel, 1726–1837
• Claire Grogan, Bishop’s University, The Role of Political Caricature in Britain during the 1790s
• Jordan Howell, University of Delaware, Book Abridgment in Eighteenth-Century England; Lewis Walpole Library and Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Fellow
• Nicholas J.S. Knowles, Independent Scholar, A Catalogue Raisonné of Rowlandson’s Prints
• Cody Lass, Texas Tech University, Being British in America: The Seven Years War and Colonial Identity
• J. Vanessa Lyon, Grinnell College, Catholic Tastes: Religion, Foreignness, and the Birth of Gothic Visual Culture in England, 1715–1790; Roger W. Eddy Fellow
• Heather McPherson, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Speculum Mundi: Caricature and the Stage; LWL-ASECS Fellow
• Tim Pye, British Library, The Library of Thomas Tyrwhitt
• Matthew Sangster, British Library, Antiquarian Networks and the Meanings of Literature in the Eighteenth Century; Charles J. Cole Fellow
• Paris A. Spies-Gans, Princeton University, Creativity through Conflict: How Female Artists Navigated the Age of Revolution; George B. Cooper Fellow
• Edward Vallance, Roehampton University, Mark Noble, the Sentimental Loyalist
• Jane Wessel, University of Delaware, Property, Originality, and Performance: The Condition of Authorship on the Eighteenth-Century Stage

T R A V E L  G R A N T S

• Colin B. Burke, University of Maryland at Baltimore County, Information Challenges of the American Intelligence Agencies
• Silvia Davoli, Strawberry Hill House, Horace Walpole’s Collection at Strawberry Hill
• Thomas N. McGeary, Independent Scholar, Music and the Grand Tour
• Terry F. Robinson, University of Toronto, A History of Nobody: A Graphic and Literary Record of Being and Non-Being, 1700–1900
• David Worrall, Nottingham Trent University, The Strawberry Hill Private Theatricals of 1800 and 1801

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