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Title: The lure of lacquer : examining the mania for Japan in France and England during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries
Author: Sheckter, Sandra.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3401 8012
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis focuses on the collecting of Japanese lacquer (maki-e) in France and England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During this period, lacquer, along with porcelain, silk and spices represented an exotic luxury in Europe, where the image of Japan was vague at best. Black and gold lacquer chests, boxes and other shapes were more than just decoration for one's home. Through the `Oriental' scenes depicted on the objects, maki-e functioned as a vehicle of fantasy and prestige. The scarcity and expense of the medium of lacquer led not only to an extensive range of imitations, but also to its recycling by dismantling old lacquer pieces and using them as a veneer on more current European furniture forms. East Asian lacquer and its imitations were generally known in England as 'Japan ware' and 'japanning' respectively. By contrast in France, collectors, connoisseurs and the marchands-merciers utilised the more prosaic term of 'vemis' for lacquer and Vemis Martin' for its imitations. An analysis of the origins and terminology reveals an understanding of the distinct relationship each country had with the Japan trade. The English terminology reveals a romanticised view of the East, whereas the French appear to have maintained greater academic distance with the title describing the material's attributes. These theories are explored in this thesis through the study of important collectors and their collections. Case studies for French lacquer focus on three court figures: Marie Leszczinska (1703-1768), Madame de Pompadour (1721- 1764) and Marie Antoinette (1755-1793). Though heavily influenced by French styles and modes of collecting, the author William Beckford (1760-1844) is used in this thesis as a classic case study for compulsive collecting of lacquer in England. This is study of the mania for Japan, where Japan refers both to the medium of lacquer, and also through lacquer, to a fascination with the little understood country. A more complete picture of lacquer's role in the formation of the image of Japan in Europe is gained through the examination of its export, its patterns of collecting, marketing, and its use and display within French and English settings
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available